Gap and Starbucks Logo Changes: The Social-Media Reaction

It's Not What People Say, It's How Strongly They Say It That Counts

By Published on .

Starbucks' new logo and Steve Olenski's post last week about marketers "who leave well enough alone" with their logos got us thinking. He talks about some studies that show how a brand's most loyal fans respond to logo changes. But what about everyone else? Eighty percent of consumers said, "What are you even talking about?" in an Ad Age/Ipsos Observer poll conducted shortly after the Gap logo morphed into the American Express Blue logo and shortly before it flipped back.

The new Starbucks logo.
The new Starbucks logo.
The blog, "Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising," had a slide recently that read, "Now [that] they've changed their logo, the brand values make so much more sense to me."

In the real world, it's often a little fuzzy what impact a logo change has on a brand and to what extent. But in the social-media world, we have sentiment analysis in real time to shade in some of the gray areas for us. NetBase, whose Brand Passion Index we've written about from time to time, did some research for us comparing the recent high-profile logo changes at Gap and Starbucks.

Here's what they found: There was much more online conversation (across blogs, Twitter and other social channels) about the Starbucks change, by a factor of almost 100 to one. But those who were talking about the Gap logo flat out hated it, whereas a sizable percentage of the conversation about Starbucks was less opinionated (more just reporting the news of the change) or somewhat positive.

The conversation around both logo changes took place largely on Twitter but nearly 40% of the Gap talk happened on blogs (compared to 25% for the Starbucks logo). That could also be a sign of the intensity of feelings as people found the need to write and react in a slightly longer format than 140 characters broadcast instantly.

The short-lived Gap logo.
The short-lived Gap logo.
With the Gap, it's also worth noting that sentiment shifted after it buckled under this negative pressure and reverted to its old logo design. There was less conversation overall, but also less negativity in the posts. However it didn't shift to love, partially because of posts like this from @luckylou that pointed out that hating the new logo didn't mean that people loved the old one: "People hated the new Gap logo that appeared ever so briefly almost nowhere (fake roll-out), but that old logo really isn't that great either."

Interestingly, it felt like there was more uproar about the Gap logo even though there was apparently a lot less discussion of it. Perhaps this shows that the degree of the discussion matters more than the sheer numbers.

What do you think?

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