Perhaps there are throngs of angry coffee addicts outside Starbucks’ HQ protesting about the changes to the logo. Maybe the clamour is so loud that all employees have taken shelter inside a broom cupboard. Or are being held hostage by rebel baristas.
Because I’m failing to fathom any other reasons for social silence and non-application of a new logo…
Let me get one thing out, straight off the bat. I like Starbucks coffee (especially the Pumpkin Spice Latte), but I’m no brand advocate. I much prefer local coffee houses when I can find them. So I consider myself an ‘interested outsider’ in the whole logo debacle – and probably more so now that I’m convinced the company is doing a Gap.
There’s no denying the storm that has arisen around the new Starbucks logo. Or, should I say, the modified logo. And so far, the overwhelming reaction seems to be that consumers don’t like it much. Which is fine, it’s their prerogative after all as paying customers.
But there is one positive takeaway: People care about Starbucks.
Well, they must do, otherwise they wouldn’t bother spending time commenting on the Starbucks blog, Facebook page or Tweet feed.
So Starbucks has a range of engaged consumers all talking about the brand (and even partially engaged consumers, like me). People are taking time out of their day to get involved. To interact. To become part of the conversation.
Which is why these three things are really riling me:
1) Starbucks in Social Media
2) Unusual hierarchies
3) The ‘preview’ status
1) Starbucks in Social Media: Where are they?
A look at the corporate blog entry from Mike P explaining the design change reveals 227 comments at time of writing – and the only Starbucks representation is a lone barista (trewlue) defending the corporate decision.
Even Howard Shultz’s blog entry, with its 414 comments, doesn’t seem to have any corporate involvement in it… [see item 2 for more on the order of these entries]
Zipping over to the Facebook page seems to reveal a sadder picture (at least in the last eight hours) – there doesn’t appear to be any company representation answering comments.
Having said that, even comments away from the new logo praising the company’s coffee (“I want starbucks!!!!!!!!! Been craving it for 2 weeks!” – Christine Karam) aren’t getting so much as an acknowledgement. Not even a ‘Thanks!’.
The only social space which seems to be receiving any sort of reply is the company’s Twitter feed.
Given the amount of chatter being generated, I would have expected Starbucks’ top brass (or at least web managers) to get involved in other social spaces in some shape or description – at the very least on their own corporate blog.
They can’t be expected to answer every comment, but a little bit of interaction wouldn’t go amiss. It doesn’t seem very respectful to their involved consumers otherwise.
2) Unusual hierarchies: who’s the spokesman here?
Back to the Starbucks corporate blog, where new posts go above old posts on the front page listing.
The first post about the logo change was made by Mike P, Senior Creative Manager. Not Howard Schultz, whose update appeared later on January 5.
If I’d been running the show, I’d have made sure that the CEO (who’s quoted everywhere else on the web) had the first update. Not some creative manager, no matter how senior.
The logo is the most visible part of the company brand, emblazoned as it is on everything from napkins to windows, and the baristas themselves of course.
So a change of this magnitude should, surely, be headed up by the CEO first, giving an opportunity to explain the new direction for the entire brand? Not a Creative Manager talking about the design thinking behind the changes, which, while interesting to those of us into such things, isn’t overly important when you’re talking about an entire brand shift…
3) The ‘preview’ status – Starbucks trying to do a Gap?
When you visit the main Starbucks site, you’re greeted with the old logo. Why? Given all of this hoopla, don’t you think that the company would have at least changed that one little, tiny package of bytes?
The answer lies on Twitter and at the very bottom of Howard Schultz’s blog post– the new branding isn’t being applied until the Spring.
What we’ve been treated to, apparently, is a ‘preview’.
Which is nice. Nothing like a good preview of something which isn’t going to happen for a few months to generate some chatter, controversy and change…
It would not surprise me in the slightest if the new logo decision was reversed in the next ten days or so. Or for some of the community comments to be taken on board and the company name brought back into the mix at least.
Then the company can show that they’ve ‘engaged’ and ‘listened’ to the already involved community.
I just don’t buy the ‘preview’; the fact that the first post on the company’s own blog is not made by the CEO but by a ‘Senior Creative Manager’; the complete silence on all but Twitter.
To me, that smacks of a corporate ploy to create conversation, raise profile and then come out of it all smelling of roses because the will of the community has been taken on-board…
Or is this just me being overly cynical and critical? Let me know your thoughts…