New Look, Same Gold Standard

The Smithsonian Bird Friendly® certification seal has evolved twice since the program began 20 years ago. The most recent logo, a bold rectangle featuring shady habitat, soaring songbirds and the Smithsonian Sunburst, is the latest of these seals. Previous versions of the logo will be phased out over the course of 2019 and early 2020 to be replaced by the rectangular seal. In the meantime, each continues to represent the gold standard in shade-grown coffee habitat.

So why the change? As the coffee program grows, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center continues to adapt to and inform the market for certified Bird Friendly coffee and current consumer awareness for the label. The design of the new seal reflects SMBC research identifying a broad range of consumer preferences with regards to messaging and coffee consumption. Research findings informed the focus on lush rainforest imagery as well as Smithsonian brand affiliation and led to the certification’s new tagline, “Proudly serving biodiversity."

For a certification program, a seal is synonymous with the standards it represents, helping to differentiate the products on a shelf that carry the certification from those that don’t. The seal must be easily identified from afar by those who know to look for it, while also educating new consumers in a single glance. For Bird Friendly, each of these objectives is critical to saving habitat; the greater the awareness and mass-market demand for Bird Friendly certified coffee, the more farmers will be willing to grow to Bird Friendly’s stringent environmental standards, and the more forest and species saved in the process.

An important element of the new Bird Friendly® logo is what is not included: namely, a depiction of coffee. This is because SMBC has recently begun research to establish future standards for a second shade-grown product: Bird Friendly cocoa. Coffee and cocoa represent only two of the many products SMBC believes could be produced in a Bird Friendly manner and available to consumers as Bird Friendly certified. As the global population continues to expand, the Bird Friendly certification serves as an example for products that not only reduce our negative environmental impact, but also create benefits for people and the planet.