Friday, January 21, 2011


When planning strategy or creative, marketers know that their audiences seek a clear answer to this one, basic question: What's in it for me?

Now comes a new question we marketers should be asking, whether we're planning strategy, writing copy, considering using the latest, greatest social media plaything or otherwise developing interaction with our audiences: What would humans do?

Think about all the marketing and advertising that we've suffered through that fails to consider such a question.  Come on, we're marketers, but we're also humans (at least most of us are). Let's do better.

(Credit goes to Amanda Lannert of Jellyvision Lab for this idea. Thanks!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weighing in on Starbucks' latest move

I've been trying to avoid comment on Starbucks' announced logo change. Part of my reluctance is out of professional courtesy -- logo changes are hard enough without armchair quarterbacks trying to call plays. But Starbucks' has broken my heart before, and I'm simply not as loyal to the brand as I once was.  Nevertheless, I have a couple of things to say about their latest move.

James Gregory, CEO of CoreBrand, is unhappy with Starbucks' plans. He argues that dropping the name "Starbucks" from the logo is detrimental to the brand.  He also notes that the siren symbol simply doesn't have the same visual recognition as the Apple logo, McDonalds golden arches or the Nike Swoosh.

Any logo change, especially one involving such a recognizable international symbol as the Starbucks logo, is risky business.  While I tend to agree with Gregory, I offer a couple of cautionary points before we hang Starbucks' marketing department the way we did the marketing brains at the Gap.  First, we really don't know the specific objectives Starbucks is trying to accomplish with this change.  Their CEO claims the new logo better represents the company's broadening product line.  Gregory suggests this could be accomplished without catapulting the name "Starbucks" from the logo. However, it's quite possible Starbucks plans to introduce new stand-alone brand names, like Via, its instant coffee line. The point is, without knowing the objectives, evaluating Starbucks' logo change by just looking at the new artwork is basically judging a book by its cover.

Second, as I've argued many times before, virtually any logo can be made to work in a branding environment. With all due respect to my art director friends, the logo itself matters far less than the consistency with which visual standards and brand strategies are applied.  Logos are simply symbols that stand for things.  In the end, its what you do to imbue those symbols with meaning that really matters.

So good luck, Starbucks.  I think you'll come out all right on this one.  Just don't mess with the coffee!