Last Updated on 14 April 2011

In my last article, I wrote about the importance of thinking through the details of company projects and programs. As a leader, maybe you won’t won’t be the one getting your hands dirty in the details, but you have to at least get your mind dirty, making sure the details have been figured out.

Two coffee brands, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Starbucks Coffee are re-launching their brands, starting with new logos. Starbucks is a few weeks into their process, with bigger changes taking place in the spring. Seattle’s Best Coffee (SBC) is eight months into their transformation, having announced in May 2010.

Changing your logo is a massive undertaking accompanied with massive expense. Brands put their logo on EVERYTHING. That means EVERYTHING needs to be re-done. And, it is impossible to have it all happen at once.

Nevertheless, there should be a better way the following examples taking place with SBC.

Exhibit No. 1, Mis-Matched Logos

This first picture is a detail of coffee dispensing pots at my local deli that brews Seattle’s Best Coffee. Because the team in Seattle is thinking “new look” to label the holiday coffee flavor, they provided a round sticker with the new logo on it. As you can see through the thin sticker, the old square label with the old logo is still in place.

I should have taken a picture of all four of the coffee pots, as the other three featured the old school SBC logo.

This makes it confusing for the customer and comes across as sloppy. This doesn’t add to the brand, it draws from it.¬†

Someone didn’t think through the details. (At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Because it is worse if they thought about it, and decided to ignore it.)

Exhibit No. 2, Old Logo Treated Like Junk

This image is sad. This was taken in a Border’s Book Store that has a Seattle’s Best Coffee cafe within it. Along with the junk the bookstore is trying to get rid of from the holidays are Seattle’s Best Coffee mugs with the SBC logo on them…

Quick sidebar, the brand hasn’t wanted to be called SBC, preferring the full “Seattle’s Best Coffee” name, yet they’ve produced logo mugs with SBC on them for years.

Okay, sorry… So these mugs are basically junk. In fact, I think it would have done less harm to donate them to a homeless shelter than to put them in the 75% off bin. (They are marked 50%, but the bigger sign overhead screamed “75% Off.”)

Here’s the problem.

This is the “old” logo in the minds of the folks in Seattle who are thinking about nothing but the future, but in the cafes where the customers are sitting this is still the current logo.

Other than the whole bean coffee packaging and a sign or two, everything else – from the logo on the outside of the building, on the windows, on the in-store murals – all features the old logo. Until the old logo is all gone, it is still the current logo.

These mugs shouldn’t be chucked into the 75% off bin, at they still have existing equity.¬†This comes across to me as an abusive way to treat the brand.

I don’t think they’re thinking through the details. Being all excited about what is to come has caused them to pour the baby out with the bath water.

Starbucks is about to experience the same situation on a much grander scale. While their logo change will be less obvious than the radical change SBC took on, hopefully they’ll be more graceful about their transition.

(I’m happy to help you think through it Starbucks marketing team, if you want to make sure you’ve thought through it completely!)