Susie Rushton: The green circle that reveals confidence beyond words

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The Independent Online

I admit it. I am one of those tragic people who glimpses in the distance a green, luminous circle decorated with stars, and thinks: brilliant. Caffeine. Civilisation. Specifically, Starbucks.

Without a twinge of embarrassment, I have headed into a Starbucks in Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris for the authentic taste of corporate brew, delivered into my hand in under two minutes. In Vienna, the home of majestic coffee houses where lattes are served on silver platters by waiters in penguin suits, I made a beeline for the 'Bucks, much to the disgust of my Austrian host.

I can't help it. Starbucks is a brand I trust. Of course, there are things I don't like about the Starbucks universe. I can't bear the squiggly, illustrative designs on the walls. The muffins taste of nothing. And why won't they sell their green aprons to customers?

The new logo is a bit like one of those muffins: bland and overblown. It is denuded of words, but also of the distinctive stars, which I felt gave it a pleasant all-American feel.

That's exactly why they had to change, says Declan Stone, author of Logo RIP, a fascinating compendium of logos that corporations have killed off. "It makes sense, for selling to other markets like China and Japan, to drop the words," he says.

Alice Rawsthorn, design critic of the International Herald Tribune, agrees that Starbucks is right to rebrand, despite the new logo's flaws. "Starbucks should stick to its guns," she says. "It takes a lot of confidence, even arrogance, for a company to ditch the words in its logo, and to expect the rest of us to recognise it simply from a visual symbol."

I suspect sniffing out a branch from 40 paces still won't be a problem for me.