Friday, July 23, 2010

So long old ‘bou

In today’s blog, Brandy Gonsoulin writes about her experience earlier this spring: “As a Caribou coffee drinker, I received a shock (not of the caffeine kind) on a mid-afternoon coffee trip.  In the middle of a conversation, with a closer look at the cup, I realized that the logo had been redesigned."

Here are her observations on the rebranding initiative at Caribou Coffee.

I looked at the door – indeed, there was a new, odd inspired caribou taking the place of my familiar leaping reindeer, going the opposite direction have you.  I was confused, even mildly starting to feel a twang of brand grief.  The rebranding had snuck up on me without a warning.  What happened to the logo I loved?  Where were the big announcements, the “Coming Soon,” the “Look out for our new Image” campaigns?  Was this a joke?  Would CB2-inspired furniture soon replace the wood campfire-inspired interior?

The rebranding was an effort by the new CEO Mike Tattersfield to change what was referred to as a “schizophrenic brand image.” The color palette and font were exchanged for a sleeker look and the caribou is even leaping to the right to symbolize forward growth.

I get it.  I understand the need to refresh, to revisit strategy and to create a new image. And when I’m on the consulting side I might look at the left logo and recommend it is time to clean out the closet and get rid of that 1980s trench coat.  But being on the consumer’s side, it’s a different story.  And it got me thinking - if making a brand is all about brand loyalty then re-branding without an emerging strategy is like breaking up.  Caribou coffee didn’t slowly stop seeing me and limit calls to once a week.  They sent me a text message saying it’s just not working.

As marketers if you are considering changing what people have known and loved about you for so long in your attempt to capture a new audience, are you also considering your current audience and how the re-branding can turn them away?  As part of the re-branding communication strategy, how are you addressing your current audience loyalties and building support for the new image?

Who knows. . .maybe the new one will grow on me.  But for now, so long old ‘bou.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's more about "The Story Behind the Design" ......

When approaching the logo redesign, we didn’t want to lose the important equities of the previous logo, so the new logo still includes a leaping caribou, a shield and the words “Caribou Coffee.”

What has changed, however, is the look: from a Northern lodge theme to a fresh variation of the same elements, now rooted in natural textures and fluid graphics. Hundreds of possible variations on the central caribou element were conceived for the new logo. “In the end, we chose a simple but playful representation of our iconic animal,” said Alfredo Martel, senior vice president of marketing for Caribou Coffee. “Because coffee is the heart and soul of our company, the body of the caribou is formed out of a coffee bean. In addition, the caribou’s antlers now form the shape of the letter ‘C’.”

Another significant change in the logo is the direction of the caribou’s leap. While the Caribou in the previous logo was leaping left, the caribou now leaps right, signifying the direction the company is heading — into the future. “The shield element has been updated to resemble the shape of traditional national park signage. This is a nod to our founders’ hike in Alaska’s Denali National Park, where they were inspired to start the company,” said Martel. “The colors have evolved to a deeper, richer shade of blue and a coffee brown to tie more closely to our core offering.”

The logotype treatment creates a more expressive and energetic look, and the separation between the words “Caribou” and “Coffee” exemplifies the shorthand used by the company’s core customers, who simply refer to it as “Caribou.”