Last Updated on 2 January 2013

POINT: Paul Williams

A logo serves as a visual shortcut for your company and brand.

In the olden days – before common people could read – shop keepers hung icons outside their storefronts. A shoe was a cobbler. The butcher had some sort of animal (cow, pig, chicken) emblem. The bakery had a bread loaf or pretzel. You can still see these across Europe.

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[fancy_images width=”180″ height=”130″]
[image title=”Logos” alt=”Wine Shop”][/image]
[image title=”Logos” alt=”Pretzels in Salzburg”][/image]
[image title=”Logos” alt=”Clothing Store”][/image]
[image title=”Logos” alt=”Seafood”][/image]
[image title=”Logos” alt=”Streets in Salzburg”][/image]

All sorts of hubbub about logos. We get used the logo’s link to a brand. Customers gave GAP clothing store so much flack for changing their logo – Gap changed it back.

Walking past an Apple Store the other day, I heard a little kid behind me – had to be 4 years old – declare “Mom… an Apple Store!” Apple is an easy one. Apple is the logo. Apple is the brand. Clean and simple.

There is no name on the Apple store. Just the logo.

A Nike store doesn’t get that reaction from a 4-year old. The ‘swoosh’ doesn’t yet mean Nike the way an apple means Apple.

Starbucks and their current logo change is interesting. They zoomed in on the old logo and got rid of the outer ring that featured the words “Starbucks Coffee” and the two stars.

But, Starbucks is that brand yet. They aspire to be, but they aren’t a brand that is bigger than coffee. Especially in International markets they’ll have to add back in the name Starbucks… and probably Starbucks Coffee so people know what they do.


Logos are important but they are not vital.

As Paul mentions, “a logo serves as a visual shortcut for your company.” It’s important to have a visual element for customers to recognize your business over another business. A logo should convey a brand’s style and that style should be unique and recognizable. That’s definitely important.

However, a whiz-bang logo isn’t vital for a brand to succeed.

Case in point, the now classic Starbucks logo.

I contend Starbucks succeeded in spite of the logo. It’s clunky. It’s complicated. It’s confusing. Yes, this logo is unique and recognizable. No other logo looks quite like this and that’s because it’s clunky, complicated, and confusing.

(Why the green band with stars and text? What’s that, a mermaid? No, it’s a siren. Huh? What’s a siren?)

If Starbucks was a new business today, there is no way they would choose to use such a clunky, complicated, and confusing logo. Yet, Starbucks found tremendous success despite its logo being a mess.

We marketers tend to focus too much of our attention fine-tuning logos and taglines and not enough attention fine-tuning vital business matters. It’s far more vital for a business to focus on building a business that (a) makes money, (b) makes customers happy, and (c) makes employees happy. If a business focuses its attention on those three areas, whatever logo it uses doesn’t really matter.

Starbucks focused its attention and building a profitable business that made customers and employees happy. In focusing on those areas, Starbucks built a viable business with the by-product being a strong brand despite having a clunky, complicated, and confusing logo.

Crackerjack Marketer