Starbucks Logo Evolution

Jennifer Farley

I don’t drink tea or coffee and I’ve never set foot in a Starbucks coffee shop, however I’m very much aware of the Starbucks logo as it’s visible in many cities around the world. This iconic logo has gone through several changes over the years, starting in the early seventies with a brown label and woodcut image of a mermaid. Now celebrating it’s 40th anniversary, Starbucks logo has evolved again with the removal of the words Starbucks Coffee and enlargement of the mermaid icon – the Siren – to fill the green circle. The re-design was carried out by international branding firm Lippincott.

New 2011 re-designed logo
mermaid starbucks-logo-1992
The early woodcut style Siren The 1992 logo

As part of the logo design process, the design team broke down the four main parts of the existing logo – color, shape, typeface and the Siren. The result of the process was the production of a simplified logo. The words were removed from the mark, the black background behind the siren was replaced with green, and the Siren was taken out of her ring.

The previous logo was created using an early version of AutoTrace, so a rebuild and some cosmetic surgery of the Siren was required. Composition was improved by using a more sophisticated stroke width and spacing. Her hair has been smoothed, facial features have been refined and the scales on her tail have been altered to emphasize her face.


The Starbucks logos in action.

The Siren has been at the heart of the Starbucks logo for forty years. When the company was set up, the designer found a 16th century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid. The company founders believed she represented a seductive mystery mixed with a nautical theme and so she became the most important element of the mark. Her appearance has graphically become more sophisticated (yet simplified) with each iteration of the logo. Personally I like the new mark but I was very fond of the previous logo with the green ring, text and stars too so I’m still fully warming to it. I wonder if customers will find it as instantly recognizable as before?

What do you think about the new siren-only logo? Does it work?