I really like this logo and wanted to share some thoughts about it.
First off, let’s see how this logo relates to the summary of the business it identifies. Illy makes this statement on its website,
The illy story is rich in innovation, borne of a scientists [sic] curiosity, and artists [sic] feel for beauty, and a coffee purists [sic] quest for ultimate quality and pleasure in the cup.
If you don’t get sick from all the sics I inserted for lack of apostrophes and somewhat ambiguous sentence structure, you’ll notice that the description doesn’t have obvious ties to the logo. The strongest links I see between the visual identity and the company’s written identity quoted above is “artist” and use of the color red: the letters give the impression of an artist’s brush strokes and the red is bold, like the taste of good coffee.
Here we have a classic and time-tested method: creating a logo that doesn’t really convey much about the business; yet it represents the business regardless—even powerfully so. It’s attractive and memorable so it successfully serves its purpose. Personally, I’d wear it on a plain, white t-shirt and if I had it on one of my coffee mugs, it’d be the mug of choice every morning. If I’d be willing to do those things, I’d also be willing to look for it in a coffee shop or convenience store.
Perhaps this logo’s biggest achievement is that it ties in well with coffee-culture. The light-hearted, warm and artsy feel goes right along with the sensation that all good coffee brands endeavor to give–all without using coffee beans and cups.