Starbucks Logo History & Evolution

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Starbucks logo history and evolution

The Starbucks logo is one of the most recognizable and iconic logos in the world. It has become synonymous with coffee, and for many people, it represents much more than just a brand or a company. The logo has a rich history, evolving over the years to represent the growth and evolution of the Starbucks brand. In this post, we will explore the Starbucks logo evolution and its history, from its humble beginnings to the global coffee giant it is today. We will also analyze the design elements of the logo that make it so successful.

History of Starbucks

Starbucks was founded in 1971 by three coffee aficionados – Gordon Bowker, Zev Siegl, and Jerry Baldwin – who wanted to create a place in Seattle where people could come and enjoy high-quality coffee, teas, and spices. At the time, the coffee industry was dominated by low-quality coffee scooped out of cans and served to customers. The three founders wanted to do better and revolutionize the way people drank coffee.

The first Starbucks store was located in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market and had a very different atmosphere from the modern Starbucks stores we see today. The store had a rough interior with exposed brick walls, a wooden counter, and second-hand furniture. It quickly became popular among the locals, who appreciated the high-quality coffee and cozy atmosphere.

In 1982, Howard Schultz joined the Starbucks team as director of retail operations and marketing. Schultz had a different vision for the company and wanted to turn it into a chain of espresso bars similar to those he had seen in Italy. The founders were initially resistant to the idea, but Schultz persisted and eventually convinced them to open a test store in downtown Seattle. The store was an instant success, and the founders realized that Schultz’s vision was the future of Starbucks.

In 1987, the company was sold to a group of investors who rebranded it as Starbucks Coffee Company and began to expand. The company opened its first stores outside of Seattle, in Chicago and Vancouver, in 1988. By the early 1990s, Starbucks had over 100 stores and was ready to go public. In 1992, Starbucks went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange, with an initial public offering (IPO) of $17 per share.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Starbucks continued to grow at a rapid pace, opening stores across the United States and expanding into international markets. By 2000, the company had over 3,000 stores worldwide and was the largest coffeehouse chain in the world. However, Starbucks’ rapid expansion led to some criticism from those who felt that the company had lost its focus on quality and had become too focused on growth.

In 2008, Starbucks announced that it was closing 600 underperforming stores and refocusing on its core business of serving high-quality coffee. The company also attempted a significant rebranding effort to celebrate its 40th anniversary, which included a new, modernized logo that removed the name and outer ring, leaving only the iconic green siren. While the rebranding was not successful, the company’s renewed focus on quality helped it weather the economic downturn of the late 2000s.

Today, Starbucks has over 30,000 stores in close to 80 countries and is still growing. The company has diversified its product line to include more than just coffee, with offerings such as teas, juices, and food. Despite its massive size and global reach, Starbucks remains committed to its core values of quality, community, and sustainability.

Evolution of the Starbucks Logo

The Starbucks logo is one of the most recognizable in the world, and its evolution is a testament to the power of effective branding. From the twin-tailed mermaid to the minimalist design of today, the Starbucks logo has undergone significant changes that reflect the company’s growth and evolution over time.

YearLogo Design
1971Twin-tailed mermaid on a circular design
1987Streamlined siren with a green color scheme
1992Close-up of the siren’s face with a new font
2008Reimagining of the original 1971 logo
2011Minimalist design with only the siren
Evolution of the Starbucks Logo

The Original Logo (1971)

When Starbucks first opened in Seattle in 1971, it was named after the whaling ship in Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick. The founders initially called the store “Pequod” but soon changed it to “Starbuck” after the chief mate of the ship.

Starbucks logo 1971
Starbucks logo (1971–1987) (Credit: Starbucks)

The original Starbucks logo featured a twin-tailed mermaid, or siren, which was inspired by the sea-inspired history of the city. The circular design allowed the company name to be wrapped around the logo, emphasizing the availability of coffee, tea, and spices. The color scheme was coffee brown, symbolizing stability and nurturing.

The 1987 Redesign

The first Starbucks logo was designed in 1971, and it featured a twin-tailed mermaid. The mermaid was chosen as the logo’s centerpiece because it was believed that sirens lured sailors with their beautiful voices to a shipwreck off the coast. The founders of Starbucks wanted to give off the idea that Starbucks seduces coffee lovers. The logo was designed with a brown color scheme, and the company’s name, “Starbucks: Coffee, Tea, Spices,” was encircled around the mermaid.

Starbucks logo 1987
Starbucks logo (1987–1992) (Credit: Starbucks)

In 1987, Howard Schultz, who was hired to help with marketing, suggested that the Starbucks team begin selling espresso-based drinks. The founders didn’t take to this idea, and Schultz ended up leaving the company and starting his own business, Il Giornale. Il Giornale’s green logo was quite similar to Starbucks’, portraying the Roman God Mercury, who represented speed and efficiency. When Starbucks was bought by Schultz, he merged the two logos, designing a more refined and modern version of the mermaid. The logo’s color transformed from brown to Il Giornale’s fresh green, and the name was changed to “Starbucks Coffee.” The mermaid’s bare breasts were considered too revealing, so they were covered with luscious long hair.

The 1992 Update

In 1992, the Starbucks logo underwent another significant update. This time, the design focused more on the siren’s face, with only a partial view of her tail visible. The primary goal of the update was to make the logo more modern and give it a cleaner look and feel. To accomplish this, the font was sharpened and modernized, giving it a sleek, sophisticated appearance.

Starbucks logo 1992
Starbucks logo (1992–2011) (Credit: Starbucks)

One of the most noticeable changes in the 1992 update was the siren’s redesign. Her face was made more prominent, and she was positioned more prominently in the logo. The siren’s hair, previously covering her breasts, was repositioned to cover her chest, and her tail was slightly hidden behind her.

The color scheme of the logo remained the same as the 1987 redesign, using a rich green color for the siren and lettering against a white background. The circular design was also retained, with the Starbucks name encircling the logo.

Overall, the 1992 update was significant in that it modernized the logo, making it more sleek and sophisticated while still retaining the siren mascot and the circular design that had become iconic. The design changes helped to keep the Starbucks brand relevant and appealing to new generations of coffee drinkers while still maintaining the essence of the brand’s identity.

The 2008 Rebranding Attempt

In 2008, Starbucks attempted a significant rebranding effort to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The company reimagined its original 1971 logo, removing the outer ring, changing the color scheme, and making other alterations. However, this new design failed to resonate with customers. Many people were upset that the company was making changes to the iconic green branding and minimalist design that they had come to know and love.

Starbucks logo 2011
Starbucks logo (2011–present) (Credit: Starbucks)

The Starbucks logo had become so iconic that customers refused to accept anything else. The minimalist design had become synonymous with the brand, and customers were not ready for a change. In the end, Starbucks realized that the 2008 redesign was a misstep, and the company reverted to the previous logo in less than a year.

It is essential to understand that branding is crucial for a company, and any significant changes must be made with caution. Customers associate the logo with the brand and its values. Therefore, changing it can affect how people perceive the company. The failed 2008 rebranding attempt is an example of how making significant changes to an established brand can be risky and sometimes backfire.

The 2011 Update

In 2011, Starbucks unveiled its current logo, which is a modern, minimalist design that focuses solely on the siren. The name and outer ring were removed, leaving only the iconic green siren. The slight asymmetry added to the mermaid’s face in the 2011 redesign gave her a more human and approachable look. The change signaled that Starbucks had grown beyond just a coffee brand, with an extensive range of food and beverages, and the company didn’t want to limit itself.

Successful Design Elements of the Starbucks Logo

The Starbucks logo has become one of the most recognizable logos in the world, and it’s no accident. The company has employed several successful design elements to create a strong brand presence and identity that’s easy to recognize and remember. Here are some of the design elements that have made the Starbucks logo so successful:

  1. Unique and Recognizable Mascot The twin-tailed mermaid, or siren, is a unique and memorable mascot that has become synonymous with the Starbucks brand. The siren’s seductive, mythical appeal adds an air of mystery and allure to the brand, making it stand out from competitors. The siren has evolved over time, but it has remained a constant element in the Starbucks logo, cementing its place in the brand’s identity.
  2. Use of Circles and Emblem Logos The circular shape of the Starbucks logo represents a never-ending journey around the world and creates a sense of continuity and unity. This shape is easy to work with across different formats, whether it’s printed on coffee cups or displayed on billboards. Additionally, the emblem logo (a logo consisting of a symbol or icon with a wordmark) gives off a traditional and timeless feel that reinforces the brand’s longevity and dependability.
  3. Bright, Healthy Green as Primary Color Starbucks’ use of green as its primary brand color promotes a sense of compassion, nurturing, and kindness. The bright, healthy shade of green creates a feeling of freshness and vitality, making it the perfect color to represent a brand that prides itself on providing a quality coffee experience.
  4. Strong Connection to the Brand From the very beginning, the Starbucks logo was connected to the brand in the strongest possible way. The logo has been a constant presence in the brand’s history and has evolved to reflect the changes and growth of the company. This connection between the brand and its logo has helped to create a strong brand presence and identity, making it easy to recognize and remember.

To summarize these design elements, we can create a table that showcases how they contribute to the success of the Starbucks logo:

Design ElementHow It Contributes to the Success of the Starbucks Logo
Unique and Recognizable MascotThe siren is a memorable mascot that adds an air of mystery and allure to the brand.
Use of Circles and Emblem LogosThe circular shape and emblem logo give off a traditional, timeless feel that reinforces the brand’s longevity and dependability.
Bright, Healthy Green as Primary ColorThe green color promotes a sense of compassion, nurturing, and kindness, creating a feeling of freshness and vitality that aligns with the brand’s values.
Strong Connection to the BrandThe logo has been a constant presence in the brand’s history, and its evolution has helped to create a strong brand presence and identity.

In conclusion, the successful design elements of the Starbucks logo have contributed to the brand’s continued success and popularity. The use of a unique and recognizable mascot, circles and emblem logos, a bright, healthy green color, and a strong connection to the brand have created a logo that’s easy to recognize and remember. By employing these design elements, Starbucks has created a strong brand identity that’s become synonymous with quality coffee and a memorable customer experience.

What’s Next?

As you’ve seen, a unique logo is a surefire way of getting your brand recognized, just like Starbucks did. You can try creating a logo with one of the best online logo makers, which are also some of the most affordable options. Above all, we like Looka, an AI-powered logo maker. Alternatively, you can try Tailor Brands for an all-in-one businss solution.


  1. Starbucks. (2023, February 9). In Wikipedia.


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