Video: Starbucks logo draws flak

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updated 5/16/2008 7:03:28 PM ET 2008-05-16T23:03:28

Starbucks Corp. has a new more revealing logo of its trademark mermaid. The logo — which offers a more revealing look at the coffee chain's mermaid symbol and goes with brown instead of green as its color — is getting mixed reviews from marketing and public relations experts.

"It's unusual," said Sally Baker, who runs Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Great Ideas Public Relations. "I'm not sure most people will get it."

The logo features a bare-chested mermaid with her tail fin split in half. The previous green logo showed less of the mermaid.

The new logo is actually a nod to the coffee giant's past. When the Seattle-based coffee company was founded in 1971, its logo was of similar design. Since 1971, the logo has been gone through various alterations.

A Christian group in San Diego called The Resistance is offended by the new logo and wants consumers to boycott or complain to the Seattle-based coffee chain.

The turbulent economy and sagging housing market have bitten into consumer confidence and Starbucks sales.

Richard Ettenson, a branding expert and international marketing professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz., said companies use logo changes to send messages to the greater marketplace.

"Logos and visual identities are all about sending signals to the marketplace. It appears the current logo change at Starbucks is an attempt to signal that it is not business as usual and that something a bit new and different is brewing at Starbucks," Ettenson said.

"The new logo achieves this without abandoning completely what is comfortable and familiar (the overall layout/design and the mermaid)," he said.

Some Arizona PR experts are taking the logo change a little less seriously.

"Seattle is known for people who like the peace pipe and this looks like the work of someone smoking some while watching 'A Fish Called Wanda' in the Pink Taco Restaurant," said Jason Rose, president of Scottsdale-based Rose & Allyn Public Relations.

American City Business Journals, Inc.

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