Today (January 5, 2011) Starbucks unveiled a new logo in celebration of their 40th year anniversary.  I received an email earlier this week inviting me to attend an event happening at the headquarters today.  Little did I know that I would be there for the unveiling of this new logo.  Already in the eight hours that have elapsed since this event, the news is full of stories and discussion of the new logo.  I don’t want to duplicate what is out in the news, but rather simply talk about my experience at the headquarters and the unveiling of the new logo there.

I arrived at 10:00 am, the scheduled time, and walked out with a group to the atrium area of the Starbucks headquarters.  Howard Schultz had just begun to talk about the future of Starbucks.  We watched some video recounting some of his trip to Rwanda, and there were several other speakers as well. Kalen Holmes, the top HR executive, talked a little bit about “Starbucks University,” a small pilot program designed to facilitate partners’ education.  I think it was Vivek Varma who talked a little bit about the Starbucks Partner Community Website.

At the Starbucks headquarters, there is a very large atrium area with a small roasting oven and large forums, roasting events, and other events are held in this room.  You can see this big room in this blog post here:

Galapagos Island Coffee Roasting Event at Starbucks Headquarters

The atrium room of the headquarters today was full.  All I could see was a sea of heads.  As Howard spoke, for the most part I could only see his forehead and listen to him, or I could watch him on video monitors in the room.  The room was full of partners.  As far as I could tell, I was one of only four or five customers who had the opportunity to attend this at the headquarters.  Since it looked like literally the entire corporation was in attendance, there wasn’t much room for even a handful of customers.

From the reception area to the atrium, one walks down a hallway with themed rooms.  I’ve seen these rooms before (because I’ve now had a number of excursions to the SSC) but this time around the Tazo room and the SBC rooms jumped out at me.  Both of those brands have exciting futures and not to be neglected in the hubbub of a new logo, I’m highlighting them here too:  (See below)

As I mentioned before, the event was packed.  I assume that all 3000 SSC employees were in attendance.  At a distance, I recognized a number of people that I wanted to call out and say hello to, including one of my favorite MSI moderators, Erich.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t an ability to spontaneously socialize because we were all glued to the announcements by Howard Schultz and other executives.

Packed atrium


Atrium is packed


The two above pictures give you an idea of how crowded this event was.  The photo labeled “Atrium is packed” faces the sequence of logos, shortly before the black drape was pulled off the latest logo.

The new logo was designed in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Starbucks, arriving March 2011.  My understanding is that the logo will begin to appear on cups and in Starbucks stores and on Starbucks items about the March time frame.  I have already repeatedly heard  that there will be other marketing pieces that go with this, though I can’t imagine what is meant by that.  I’m guessing that we will see the words “Starbucks Coffee” appear separately somewhere on bags of coffee and /or coffee-related merchandise.  The idea behind the new logo is that the brand will have increased flexibility as it expands its presence in grocery stores and offers a greater variety of products and merchandise in and outside of the Starbucks coffeehouses.

I was able to sneak a peak at a letter from Howard Schultz to partners about this change, and saw that he described the passion of Starbucks in relationship to its communities, “What defines Starbucks is our passion for our work and the values by which we work.  Activities planned for April will demonstrate and build upon that passion and those values.  During this month, we will invite our partners and customers to volunteer together in community events around the world, further connecting us to each other and our neighbors while reinforcing what we stand for.  Serving our communities has always set Starbucks apart, and so many of you already give of yourself and of your stores in many, many ways.  It will be another opportunity to celebrate this critical element of our mission.  You’ll learn more about our spring plans soon, and I hope you will join me in becoming more involved.

I love the Starbucks passion surrounding being involved in local communities, and so I wanted to share that.

Howard on the video monitors abt to reveal the logo


The new Starbucks logo revealed


After the logo was revealed, there was a short time for socializing, though not long enough.  I needed badly to get back to work, and others appeared in a hurry too.  Annie Young-Scrivner approached me and shook my hand sincerely and gave me a warm welcome to the headquarters.  Pretty much at that moment I was thrown completely off guard unsure if I should apologize for my previous blog post where I disapproved of her shoes (an old blog post about the Shareholder’s meeting this year) or just make small talk.  I opted for small talk as she seemed to be genuinely interested in meeting me, and appeared to hold no grudges. Thank god.  (I believe she’s the only executive I’ve ever kind of been mean to on this blog!).  I admit that as she walked away, I could help myself and I checked out her shoes.  Today she was wearing cute ankle boots with heels.

Following meeting with Annie Young-Scrivner, I met up with Terry Davenport, who is the Senior Vice President of Marketing.  I enjoyed talking to him about the new logo, and sort of wanted to spend more time with him, but the setting really only allowed for small chatter.  This was another one of those moments where I felt like he already knew me, yet I didn’t know him.  I was mildly disappointed that I didn’t get enough time to meet with my actual hostess for the event, Sally T., and at a distance I saw a PR person I wanted to talk to, but there was no way to connect with her either.  Also in this whirlwind of socializing, I caught up with Michelle Gass, who is the president of SBC.  I nearly pounced on her as it has been too long since I’ve seen her, and it was wonderful to meet a familiar friendly face where she knows me AND I’ve met her before.  Finally, Howard wandered my direction.  He said hello to me, I thanked him profusely for having invited me to the event. I am genuinely flattered at these event opportunities.  With 60 million customers a week going through Starbucks’ doors, that makes me just one customer out of 60 million.   Right after that, Brad Nelson came by (the official voice of the Starbucks twitter profile) and I got my picture with him:

I know that I am going to get asked over and over again what I think of the new logo.  By the way, for those who haven’t seen it, there is information about the new logo here:

There is a part of me that is in shock.  I didn’t really see this coming (though perhaps I should have), and I love the words “Starbucks Coffee” around the Siren.  Having lived through one major logo change with Starbucks (in 1992), I think I can go through another.  The Siren is beautiful with or without a ring of words around her.  Whether Starbucks stays focused on coffee doesn’t depend upon a logo, but rather the leadership.  The new logo is beautiful because our Siren is beautiful.  What the future brings will simply depend on big decisions made at the headquarters, and not this logo.

Let me apologize for a large number of typos and grammar problems.  Eventually I will fix them.  There might be a part two to this blog post later as I am working on getting some audio from the event today but at the moment I am experiencing technical difficulties.

If you are interested in my last blog post about the logo, here’s my December blog article about finding the 1987 to 1992 logo in Starbucks stores:

My Siren Episode #2 – 1987 to 1992

Now it’s your turn to weigh in on the logo…

(Edit: I nearly forgot to mention something.  When I left I was given a goody bad which include a coffee mug, a pound of Pike Place Roast, and a $10 Starbucks gift card.  Since I received these gifts, the FTC requires that I disclosed that I received goods or anything of value in conjunction with this event.  Consider this to be your FTC disclosure. ;))