Gap, Starbucks, Logos and the Customer: How important is social media?

You may remember hearing that Gap changed its logo in October of last year. After only one week of the new design the company was forced, due to great public outcry, to revert back to the old look. The change created a social media uproar which saw 2,000 angry responses on its Facebook page alone, and great anger in many online forums. In fear of a reduction in its client base and customer satisfaction scores, Gap reverted back to the old logo after only a matter of days.
 
With the old logo restored, GAP perhaps surprisingly saw an overall increase in its average sentiment ratings of its comments on social media sites. This increase in customer satisfaction led some analysts to level claims of a clever PR campaign to gain the company increased publicity. We will probably never know either way.
 
Recently another high profile logo change has been well documented in the press. Starbucks have decided to remove the words ‘Starbucks’ and Coffee’ from their logo to merely depict the “Siren” (arguably) synonymous with the brand. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has made it clear he is aware of the possible repercussions of a logo change, but strongly believes that it is important Starbucks drops the words to separate itself with the association of solely being a coffee brand.
 
Needless to say the social media response has, as expected, been cool to say the least: a survey carried out by www.zurb.com found that 72% of consumers “hated” the new logo. Although only a small study of around 250 respondents over 12 hours it does demonstrate Starbucks customer’s dissatisfaction. As with GAP the general Facebook response was negative.
 
Starbucks haven’t changed their logo back yet, and probably will keep it longer than GAP (if not indefinitely), but it does raise a number of interesting points. The first being how this links closely to one Fizzback study:  ‘Customer Loyalty: Making it Easy’. The article states companies should stop trying to delight the customer, instead increasing customer loyalty by doing the basics right. This idea is also relevant to these well publicised logo changes. Consumers don’t like change, so businesses should not alter the brand image if they are content with the one already in existence.
 
The second point is how this seems to underline the power of social media as a customer engagement tool, and the impact it has on businesses. That said, what I believe the interesting question is, is would the GAP and Starbucks customers who complained on Facebook stop using either brand? After all if you are passionate enough about the brand to complain about a logo change, would you really stop being a loyal customer?
 
My guess would be that they wouldn’t, and although social media has gained a big victory over GAP’s business strategy, this has exaggerated its importance and impact. It is customers who have received bad service in store, on the phone, or at whatever touch-point on the buyer cycle, who are likely to take their business elsewhere. It is these customers that companies must concentrate on, the ones who must be found, contacted and recovered
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