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Starbucks Logo Design History and Evolution

When Starbucks was founded as a small, Seattle coffee shop in 1971, no one could have predicted that it would eventually become one of the most popular chains of coffee shops. The corporation’s relaxing stores, variety of tasty drinks, and free internet have allowed it to attract customers and expand throughout the world. One of the things that helped to further the brand awareness of Starbucks is their iconic siren logo. In the years since its creation, the Starbucks logo has gone through many changes.

Each alteration has helped to further streamline the siren logo, and it is now instantly recognizable. Below, we will discuss all the major changes that occurred throughout the Starbucks logo history.

Starbucks Logo Design Elements

In its current incarnation, the Starbucks logo is a medium green circle. The symbol adorns everything from the company’s cups to the aprons of their employees. The logo uses white negative space to draw the design elements within the green circle.

The main feature of the logo is a smiling woman with long, wavy hair that is wearing a crown topped with a star. On either side of her is a pair of stripy fish tails, that people often mistake for the woman’s arms. However, further examination shows that the woman actually has two normal arms hidden beneath her hair, and they are holding either tail. The arc of the fish tails and the bottom of the crown create a smaller circle that mimics the overall shape of the logo.

Changes and Evolution

1. Shape

Overall, the Starbucks logo history has remained remarkably consistent, and it has featured a circle that contains a siren since the brand’s inception in 1971. The original logo featured a more detailed image, that showed the siren’s bare breasts and lower half with two split fish tails. In 1987, the logo was changed to a more streamlined version of the same image when Starbucks started selling espresso beverages. However, when the company became publicly traded in 1992, they decided to create a more family friendly logo, so the lower half of the mermaid was removed, creating the image of their current logo. Since then, the only other change has been in 2011, when the text of the logo was removed.

2. Color

Originally the logo was a rich coffee brown color, but this was changed to the signature green shade by 1987. For a while, the outer circle, which contained the text and two simple stars, was green and white, and the inner circle with the image was black and white. The logo renovation in 2011 removed all of the excess colors, text, and stars, so now the logo is simply a white and green circle containing the siren.

3. Font

The Starbucks typeface is a Freight Sans Black. Freight Sans Black is a very simple font, rather short and thick, with slightly rounded letters.

Arguably, one of the reasons why this particular font was chosen as the Starbucks typeface is precisely because it is so simple. The Starbucks logo design is relatively detaile and elaborate. The thick and heavy font does not compete with the logo design, but still makes its presence noticeable.

Influences and Inspirations

Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegl knew they wanted a nautical theme for their logo, in honor of Seattle’s heritage. They found their logo while they were looking through a book that featured old marine woodcuts.

The two-tailed mermaid with a star crown from the Greek mythology perfectly matched the owner’s original goal for the shop. As the business continues to grow, they have always kept the siren. As the Starbucks website explains, they see the siren as “a muse – always there, inspiring us and pushing us ahead.”


Starbucks may have used a 15th century woodcut as their inspiration, but the symbol of a two tailed siren holding up either tail actually dates back to the 8th century. A mosaic in an Italian cathedral features a similar image that might have inspired the original woodcut. The green of Starbucks logo has a history from the previous coffee shop of Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO. When he bought Starbucks, he used his old business’s color to revamp the logo.

The two-tailed mermaid has also been compared to Melusine, a character common to medieval fairytales. She was commonly depicted as a beautiful young woman with the body of a serpent or a fish, from the waist down. Melusine was usually described as having two tails.

The name of this coffee shop was inspired by the novel Moby Dick. Initially, the founders of the coffee shop wanted to name the brand Pequod, the name of captain Ahab’s ship. However, Terry Heckler of Heckler Associates, the agency that worked on Starbucks branding logo, believed the name didn’t fit. After some research, the name Starbucks was chosen. Starbucks was the first mate on the Pequod, and a great lover of coffee.

The founder of Starbucks went to study coffee roasting from the famous coffee-maker Alfred Peet. The founder of Peet’s Coffee & Tea had introduced custom coffee roasting to the United States in 1966.


Starbucks has had an extremely consistent logo throughout the years. Despite minor tweaks to make the Starbucks logo more streamlined, it has always featured the siren. This emphasizes the brand’s dedication to continuity and quality. The beautiful and simple design of the logo create instant brand recognition that has helped them to expand their business throughout the world.


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