Starbucks has famously been demonized as one of the faces of “Big Bad Corporate America.” So, it would make sense for Starbucks to want to do everything imaginable to escape those ill-feelings. Much of the escape effort comes in the form of Starbucks Shared Planet, a commitment to people and planet and not just profit, better known as the triple bottom line. Starbucks Shared Planet outlines its attention to nutrition, product sourcing, community involvement, energy, water usage, and other environmental issues. The amount of links on the corporate responsibility page really is staggering, even if many of them are fluff.
The real hot topic around Starbucks, however, is the famous (some would say infamous) paper cup. Because of it’s plastic-based liner, the cup cannot be recycled, a grim fact that also sheds an ugly light on Starbucks’ overall store recycling programs. To its credit, Starbucks is making progress on developing a paper cup made of recycled content. Starbucks currently uses a 10% post-consumer recycled fiber cup. Last year it held the Starbucks Cup Summit, in which experts from numerous industries were called upon to find a solution for the “cup problem”. Still, the unfortunate reality is that the paper cups cannot be recycled. In the short term, Starbucks is making a push for people to use reusable travel mugs instead of one-time paper cups. It has also transitioned to a more eco-friendly plastic cold beverage cup and offers ceramic mugs to in-store customers who want one.
I can only imagine how intimidating in must have been to create a logo for a company that owns one of the most iconic marks in the history of logos. So, I can respect that the Shared Planet logo is not a clone of the Starbucks logo. Come to think of it, a clear separation from the original Starbucks logo was probably a necessity considering its attempts to distance itself from the “Big Corporate” image. It makes sense to forgo the iconic green, exclude the beloved mermaid, and only keep the circle and a coffee bean to tie it back to the original. The Shared Planet mark is decidedly more simple and scaled-back. My concern is whether the mark is interesting enough to be memorable and identifiable. Beyond that, considering all of the weighty implications surrounding the brand, I’ll give the Shared Planet logo my blessing.