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How Important are Logo Changes Anyway? Just Ask The Gap

Starbucks unveiled its new corporate logo this week, with little uproar from its customers or online fans. The change includes dropping the words "Starbucks" and "coffee" wrapped around the mermaid that graces its stores and coffee cups. Lately it seems that companies have been paying more attention to marketing strategies - particularly social media strategies - than such fundamentals as logo design. That is not true, of course - but for various reasons companies prefer to have their efforts with the former highlighted as opposed to any tweaks to the latter.

Consider the uproar over the changes to the Gap’s logo last year. Simply put it was a failure – within hours of its release, the retailer hinted on its own Facebook page it might be willing to scrap the two-year project in favor of a design submitted by the public. Days later, it announced it would scrap the work of Laird and Partners, the Gap's long-standing design firm, and staying with its old logo. The Gap used crowdsourcing techniques to develop the ill-fated look.

Social Media Loves Starbucks and Vice Versa

Starbucks, by contrast, has taken a more methodical approach to its logo changes. This is only the fourth since the company was created in 1971, according to MarketingWatch and the first since it went public in 1992. Its social media efforts, on the other hand, have been the stuff of marketers’ dreams.

Most recently it began offering its customers free wi-fi on its Digital Network, complete with exclusive and premium content from such providers as Apple, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and health publisher Rodale. Not that that company hasn’t had failures: several earlier Internet initiatives have bombed. This time, however, it is upselling to network users. Also, there will be a revenue share between the coffee retailer and its content providers should customers go on to purchase while browsing.

6.5 Million Fans

Starbucks also has 6.5 million fans on Facebook - a number famously used by Vitrue last year as it rolled out its theories on the dollar value of Facebook fans to brands. Starbucks fans. Starbucks fans are worth $3.60, Vitrue found. Starbucks, however, was uncomfortable boiling down its fans to dollars and cents. "We don't view social media as a marketing play," a company spokeswoman said, after the study was first published on AdAge (via MediaBistro). "But rather as a customer engagement channel where we can have real connections with our customers, engage them in the brand and answer their questions… Our engagement allows us to understand their needs, stay top-of-mind in an increasingly competitive retail environment and share interesting news about the company with a captive audience."

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