February 2011
Time For A Change? Who Says? By Pete Mihalek

After recently tweaking their logos, mega chains Starbucks and Gap learned that their customers’ input is a necessary part of the process. Do you agree?

The barista asks me, “Grande Americano with room?” Yes, they know my order before I do. Whether you like it or not, I’m a Starbucks coffee drinker. It’s a relationship that’s really developed more so by convenience than preference — we have one next door to our office.

For a business I visit multiple times a week, it’s only natural I take notice when it makes the news. Early last month, I caught a Forbes Magazine blog post analyzing the coffee chain’s decision to revamp its logo — something the company is doing to mark its 40th anniversary.

Some marketers out there, along with fans of the brand, might consider the logo change dramatic. Dropping the words “Starbucks Coffee” and somewhat de-branding itself has generated quite a bit of negative feedback from Starbucks devotees.

Reading my way through the blog, I learned that three month’s earlier clothing retailer Gap went through a similar experience. In an attempt to keep up with the evolution of the Gap brand, a modernized logo was introduced without giving the public a heads up.

The reaction to this new look (mainly on Facebook and Twitter) was so negative and disapproving that within one week Gap reverted back to its 20-year-old look. One week!

After the reversal, Gap’s president acknowledged the way the company went about introducing the new logo was wrong and the next time this happens it will take into account the opinions and ideas of its loyal customer base.

To Involve or Not To Involve

Many of you work for a family business. And I’m sure the name of that business for a number of you looks a lot like your last name. It’s something I can’t speak on, but you’ve got to feel a tremendous amount of pride when seeing your family’s brand on shirts, signs, vehicles, newspaper ads, etc.

Has your garden center ever considered going the Gap or Starbucks route? If so, did it involve your customers’ input? Should it? That’s what I’m wishy-washy on.

What fascinates me about all of this logo rejuvenation talk is that a business’ brand/logo is no longer a private matter. And even if it starts out as one, Gap showed that in the end, the customer has the final say.

Fill Me In

If your garden center has, is working on or is considering a new logo, let me know. I think your input could materialize into an interesting article on the entire process. Something your peers (and I) could definitely learn from. As for Starbucks, will its new logo last until the next big anniversary? I guess only time, I mean, its customers will tell.

Pete Mihalek

Pete Mihalek was the former managing editor for Lawn & Garden Retailer. You can reach managing editor Abby Kleckler at [email protected]


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