Simplicity: When Has It Gone Too Far?

As a recent graduate (okay, maybe not so recent, but it still feels like it happened yesterday), the idea of simplicity still resonates loudly with me. We were taught to simplify everything we were working on until it could no longer be simplified. Or in some instances, we were to simplify until it was no longer recognizable or readable and then take a step back to where it still works. But when does simplicity go too far?

The other day I was waiting in line at Starbucks (gotta get that java) and I noticed that most of their reusable cups no longer had the recognizable two-tailed siren logo on them. It was now a big green circle,.But in the context of the coffee shop, the fact it was a mug or tumbler and the smell of fresh ground espresso was in the air, it clearly resonated as a Starbucks branded item.

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However the real question is, does it still make sense outside of the café? So I took this opportunity to ask around ChappellRoberts to get our coffee and tea connoisseurs professional opinions.

“I probably would not have recognized most of those as Starbucks brand that didn’t have the woman on them,” Chris Wilkerson – Senior Account Executive

“I would never recognize the “dot” as belonging to the Starbuck’s brand outside of a coffee context So, while it’s a fun concept, I don’t necessarily think it is one that will catch on universally. I still am a fan of the Starbucks lady,” Anne Meyers – Account Executive

“No, I wouldn’t recognize any of them, except for the ones with the actual logo,” Adam Alvis – Web Developer

“Starbucks brand loyalists will recognize the brand in this new approach. Personally I would rather carry one of these “branded” mugs than one with a Starbucks logo. They represent the Starbucks brand but allow for personal expression,” Sarah Tildsley –Principal/Creative Director

“I would notice it if it was on a coffee mug or thermos, etc. I don’t think I’d really start associating green dots as the logo on non-related materials, though. I think it’s a fun, fresh way for them to brand items that consumers will find stylish and unique,” Hunter Taylor – Account Executive

“For their semi branded (less in your face) mugs, they don’t make a connection to me at all. I would rather see them keep with their previous mug creative that was city/metro specific and clearly branded as Starbucks, rather than try to incorporate artsy-fartsy creative,” Matt Christ – Media Director

“I really like what they’re doing here. However, out of context, I don’t think I’d make the association to Starbucks. Let the enthusiasts enjoy a little more individuality in their coffee mug instead of being a walking advertisement,” Charlie Militello – Senior Digital Art Director

“The new coffee cups and branding material may not be 100% recognizable as Starbucks to people who don’t follow the brand, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It shows Starbucks are willing to adapt their brand to be more sophisticated,” Marie Holdaway – Graphic Designer

The consensus? ChappellRoberts is split on whether we love the new designs, but are unanimous on the idea of not being able to identify the brand out of context. So what are your thoughts? We’d love to hear whether you hate or love Starbucks’ new style. Either way, we’ll still be over here drinking our coffee (or tea!).

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