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Famous logos: Part III – Starbucks - Famous logos: Part III – Starbucks - Famous logos: Part III – Starbucks - Famous logos: Part III – Starbucks - Famous logos: Part III – Starbucks


Starbucks was founded in 1971 in Seattle, United States, and it is known for its frequent brand renewal.

Starbucks got its name from the first mate in the novel Moby Dick. However, the founders initially had another name in mind – they wanted to call it Pequod, after Captain Ahab’s whaling ship. Can you imagine the best coffee shop in the world with a fishing boat on its logo?

The beginning

The café that started at the Seattle port, the company searched for its roots along the Seattle port and its shipping routes. The search eventually led to the novel Moby Dick, and at some point a two-tailed mermaid or siren seemed like the only way to go. “There was something about her – a seductive mystery mixed with a nautical theme that was exactly what the founders were looking for,” reads the explanation on the Starbucks website. 

The Starbucks logo was developed in cooperation with the advertising agency Lippincott over four decades. Starbucks wanted each new logo to equally express the past as well as the future, giving them the possibility to support their current products as well as future ones, while also being ready to look further on down the line. 

Today Starbucks can be found in over 55 countries around the world, so you can just imagine the responsibility that comes with designing a brand that would be acceptable to people around the world. 

Early days

In 1971 Starbucks started selling coffee beans at the historic Pike Place Market. 
In 1986 Howard Schultz tried to persuade Starbucks to include espresso drinks in their menu. Starbucks turned down the idea and Schultz founded his own company Il Giornale, whose logo colours can be considered as the starting point for the green-white-black combination that we now know in the Starbucks logo. 

In 1987 the owners of Starbucks decided to sell their company and Schultz seized the opportunity. He acquired Starbucks for 3.8 million dollars and fashioned after his own image that he had started to cultivate with Il Giornale. In addition to joining the two companies, the range of products expanded and the name was changed. Instead of the former Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices, the name was shortened to a simpler and more concrete Starbucks Coffee. 

The logo change in 1992 mostly concerned the Siren and the colour scheme. The contours of the Siren were simplified and the logo was situated in the middle of the circle so its contours were visible only waist up. 

In 2008 Starbucks decided to take a step towards the future by restoring the original logo from 1971, hoping to fit in better with the growing popularity of hipster culture. Rebranding was a failure both in terms of design as well as publicity. 

In 2011 Starbucks introduced yet another version of their identity with a return to the classics and the green that had been successful. The outer edge of the logo was removed, as well as the Starbucks name. It was a bold move, especially considering the failed logo renewal from a few years back. The new logo focused on the Starbucks siren, the green colour and logo placement on the products. The logo is never in the centre of the packaging, and often times it is also left partly overhanging.


Starbucks isn’t just a place for coffee – their teas, drinks, ice cream, fresh food, etc., has turned the company into a multibillion-dollar empire. 

Starbucks is a great example of how traditions can be kept while keeping apace with the times. The green colour and their siren have stood the test of time. The symbol shines on in their business philosophy, their cafes, on their website, etc. You might think that making a logo a primary colour would limit its usage, but that’s not the case. Starbucks proves that their one and only green colour can successfully work in combination with different colours, graphics and solutions. 


Brand Stories: The Evolution of Starbucks
Logo Design Love – Starbucks logo Evolution
Starbucks – Who is the Siren?

Read also

Famous logos: Part I – Shell
Famous logos: Part II – Audi
Famous logos: Part IV – AT&T
Famous logos: Part V – MasterCard
Famous logos: Part VI – Nike
Famous logos: Part VII – Chupa Chups
Famous logos: Part VIII – Coca-Cola