Visual Storytelling - T. Benjamin Larsen's Blog

Great Coffee [logo] (?)

Why the Starbucks logo isn't really that great

This post came about after reading Garr Reynolds' excellent blog-post about Logos & identity. The Starbucks Logo and its many rip-offs is one of the things Garr dig into. Through the links in his post I also found my way to where Starbucks' logo is placed eight in the "All-Time Ranqued logos". As you've probably gathered from my sub-heading I don't think it deserves this honour.

-Faulty by design

One of the most important elements of a logo is that it is instantly recognizable. It should immediately separate itself from other companies' logos so that the customer can recognize it at a glance. The problem with the Starbucks Logo lays in the shape. Why the circular badge looks pleasant it also has the same shape as gazillions other logos:

Now, as long as you watch these logos displayed like this in full colour displayed you should have little problem separating them. Although at a distance you might already be forgiven for mixing the Skoda and Starbucks logos. Let's try in black and white:

As you can see the logos now appear even more similar. Flipping through a newspaper I doubt if any of these would evoke immediate recognition. The identical geometry becomes a problem. Just look at these silhouettes:

You might argue that none of these logo-owners would ever present their logo in a simple silhouette and you'd be right. But a strong silhouette improves the recognizability. Furthermore, Starbucks (or any of the others) surely can't expect to copyright a circle?! Other companies however have clear, distinct shapes that both stand out in a crowd and are hard to copy:

How close do you think anyone would come to these before becoming synonymous with copyright infringement? As mentioned earlier: a logo should be instantly recognizable. One of the easiest way to achieve this is to design a strong and exclusive silhouette.