Jeff Greenhouse

Experienced Marketing & Analytics Executive

Starbucks: What's Up The Mermaid's Sleeve?

Starbucks: What's Up The Mermaid's Sleeve?

Starbucks, the world-dominating coffee company, just may be planning to try to break out of its segment. In preparation for the company's 40th Anniversary, they are updating their branding and their logo. The rebranding itself is both major and minor at the same time. From a technical standpoint, it was probably about 10 seconds of time in Adobe Illustrator. From the interpretive standpoint, it could signal a major shift in company philosophy.

As Howard Shultz puts it in this video, they are allowing the iconic mermaid to "come out of the circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee." He immediately reinforces Starbucks core focus on coffee, but I can't help be struck by the very intentional and very public statement he is making.

It's important to remember that some of Starbucks' previous non-coffee efforts have been less than successful. Schultz himself blasted the company for losing its way in chasing after things like breakfast sandwiches (which many said completely changed the aroma inside Starbucks stores, overwhelming the classic smell of coffee). Meanwhile, Starbucks has extended its coffee in every possible direction, from ice cream, to energy drinks, to instant coffee, with great success.

It's clear that you're not going to find a Starbucks-anything that doesn't at least serve coffee, so where could Starbucks be thinking about going that would benefit from not having the word "Coffee" in the logo? Could it be thinking of opening ice cream shops? Newsstands? Bakeries? I really don't have the faintest idea of what that mermaid has up her sleeve, but I'll be very interested to see what emerges.

What do you think lies in the future for Starbucks?

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