While Americans in a hurry have always turned to a cup of coffee on the go, the places providing that coffee have increasingly consolidated over recent years. While some might go for Starbucks or Dunkin, others swear by Caribou Coffee. This coffee chain, which dedicated itself to keeping sleepy patrons awake back in 1992, can easily be spotted by its unique logo. Taking a look at the Caribou Coffee logo elements of its design makes it easier to understand exactly why the company’s brand has become so well-known and so successful in what’s become a very competitive marketplace.
Caribou Coffee Logo Design Elements
The Caribou Coffee logo is clever because you can spot it without having to read a word. The logo features a stylized caribou (or reindeer, depending on where you live) jumping across a stylized background shape. There’s definitely a sense of motion here, something that works well for a company that seems to have a major goal of keeping sleepy workers awake. While the Caribou itself is very stylized, it’s still easy enough to make out that you’ll understand exactly what company’s products you’re looking at when you see a cup or a bag.
The colors are fairly muted, but that works with a company that has rededicated itself to all-natural ingredients. You’re really just seeing brown and a muted blue, both of which look incredibly natural. The text mimics cursive handwriting, which again does a fine job of looking natural. Taken together, you get a very good idea of the company’s goals as well as its identity.
Changes and Evolution
There have only been two logos since 1992, and they’re very similar in terms of shape. The original logo featured a much more detailed Caribou, though, one that jumped towards the left rather than towards the right. The original background shape was also at a ninety-degree angle to the current shape, creating a very different profile. Even the wordmark was a bit different, with a more rugged look that made the initial logo look more woodsy than all-natural. The shift in company priorities was definitely echoed in the change over to a more abstract but more eco-friendly looking shape in 2010.
Oddly, the color scheme never really shifted even when the rest of the logo changed. The primary color of the logo is still the same muted blue, one that feels just as reasonable when talking about environmental friendliness as it did when evoking an outdoorsy spirit. The word color has changed, though, from a more corporate black to a warmer chocolate brown. The color change is a reflection of the company’s new commitments, one that also has a great deal to do with the switch over to all-natural chocolates undertaken by Caribou Coffee at around the same time.
The font for the logo changed quite a bit from one logo to another. The original font was jagged and off-kilter, bringing to mind the kind of wooden signs you’d see at an old-fashioned campground. It was a good way to indicate that the coffee was natural and old-fashioned, but it didn’t match the new goals of the company. The new font, which looks far more organic, fits in well with many other companies that are concerned with their environmental image and with consumers who are more concerned with hand-crafted goodness rather than industrialized goods.
The Caribou Coffee logo stood alone at the time, looking far different than most major chains. While the use of a mascot in the logo was fairly standard, it was much different than what one would see in a corporate chain. In fact, the logo most closely resembles those of many other smaller coffee spots, the kind that you’d see when visiting the downtown of an area in the pre-Starbucks days.
There aren’t a lot of direct descendants of Caribou, either. A few competitors adopted similar logos around the same time (Panera comes to mind), but most logos in the industry are different enough that this one stands out.
- Caribou Coffee was founded after its founders backpacked through Alaska and saw a herd of wild caribou.
- Caribou Coffee currently operates in ten countries and has over 4500 employees.
- There is a ‘C’ shape in the antlers of the Caribou Coffee logo mascot.
The Caribou Coffee logo shows how you can change a logo to align with new corporate goals. It’s not such a big shift that the company lost its old branding, but the new logo aligns with the corporate vision so well that it felt like a natural change. If you want to see how a company can change a logo while still maintaining its core, this is a great place to start.