Why the crane? The new JAL brand logo

Although I had been working on another topic for this blog, a piece of news jumped out at me this evening about which I just had to write.  JAL (Japan Airlines), currently under corporate rehabilitation, may renew its brand logo.  According to the news, the “crane” is making a comeback, which really made me think.  Isn’t  JAL a brand that must move forward?  As a consumer, and for those involved with the brand, it’s difficult to understand. 

Keeping in mind the original intentions, is returning to the starting line something that can be embraced?  Do the good old days of JAL have an influence on the current situation?  Wanting to change the present brand logo is understandable, however it feels that the crane is wrong somehow. 

One of the reasons that Japan’s leading wing has disappeared is that synergy could have been taken up with the times, but that hasn’t been done entirely.  As for the service, it was thought of as advanced and a very attractive blend of traditional Japanese hospitality.  Foreign friends and acquaintances that have used JAL all call it “amazing.”  However, meeting the needs of the many customers is another story.  The number of customers who want the lowest fares to their destinations has increased and the soft side is not a priority element.  Also, although traffic from people in emerging markets is increasing, LCC (low cost carriers) are becoming popular and for people in Asia and other areas airplanes are becoming like trains and buses.  I remember going to Morocco four years ago and the high level European executives assembled in the meeting used low cost carriers to return home.  Although just a short distance, I found that the reason was that the number of airlines without first-class seats was increasing. 

The airplane is the easiest to use, so why the crane?  If it were being refurbished like the Starbucks logo (which we mentioned in the last blog entry) then I understand, however I only see a minor change in the crane, which I can’t say is meaningful.  Also, am I the only one who thinks that it just doesn’t sound right during a time when there are also layoffs due to reconstruction?  Or perhaps JAL itself may disappear in the near future? 

The original crane was designated in 1959 and JAL was founded in 1951.  The revival of the crane comes about 50 years after its birth.  Particularly in Asian countries, Japan’s high level of quality has made it popular and we hope that JAL and its reputation for good service will continue to do its best.  We hope that the wings will lead to blue skies.


Business domain not needed in a brand name?! A Starbucks story

The new Starbucks brand logo was a hot topic in the news last week.  The simple design eliminates the name “STARBUCKS COFFEE” and keeps only one part of the symbol, the siren (mermaid).  You can listen to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talk about the logo design transition online at   http://www.starbucks.com/preview

In the past, Apple Computer became Apple and now product brands such as iPod and iPhone, as well as Byte and Bite, have been developed with only the “apple” mark.  When it comes to famous brands (because of large amounts of communications such as advertising), many create environments that can communicate with only symbols, however Starbucks seems to be a little different. 

Starbucks had been doing poorly in the US, however the company seems to be improving.  According to published articles, its largest market outside the US is China, followed by Canada.  As of last December, the company had 406 stores in China and plans to increase this number to 1500 by 2015.  As part of the company’s 2011 business strategy, Starbucks is focusing on 53 markets outside the US with plans to open 300 stores around the world.  If we know its future China plans, most of these are likely Chinese stores.  

Starbucks is apparently focusing on continuing to develop Starbucks VIA  (Starbucks instant coffee developed two years ago), as well as creating more variations of products such as the Frappuccino for each local market. 

Recently, Howard Schultz made some interesting comments in the Wall Street Journal.  Sales apparently do well in China mainly from afternoon to night.  That’s why from now Starbucks wants to enhance morning and morning coffee.  I heard before that for Chinese who live in cities, breakfast is a light meal and they eat something between morning and noon.  Whether or not this remains a custom is unknown, however they have time to relax and take a breather.  This time is not long and therefore there has to be a store nearby.  This means that opening new stores and continuing to develop VIA instant coffee are probably vital to Starbucks. 

Back to the new Starbucks logo.  The reason for deleting COFFEE is that the company sells other items besides coffee and from now on will continue to focus on developing areas other than coffee.  In addition, for the company’s 40th anniversary the logo is being “rejuvenated.”  The point that feels a little different is that it is disconnected from its hometown or origin (Seattle).  Not only coffee, but also “STARBUCKS” has disappeared from the symbol itself.  “STARBUCKS” naming is derived from its hometown.  Perhaps they are putting effort into making strengthening markets outside the US part of the brand strategy.