The Evolution of the Starbucks logo

Starbucks has only been what we know of it today since the mid 1980s, but the company began back in the 70s. The logo, like the company has evolved over time. Many people are up in arms over Starbucks ditching “coffee” in its logo design, but the evolution was natural as the company adapted to changing times both economically and socially.


The coffee and tea company began as one small shop situated in the famous Pike Place in Seattle, Washington, on the Pacific Northwest coast of the United States. The brand originally took its name from the classic novel Moby Dick, and everything from the name to the mermaid design was intended to evoke the romantic feel of seafaring coffee traders of old.



However, when the company’s founder Howard Shultz took a trip overseas to Italy, he fell in love with Italian coffee culture and endeavoured to bring it to the US. The logo then was re-designed to be more universally friendly and welcoming. The mermaid was adapted to the more simplistic and cheerful design we know today only she still had a belly button and more of her torso was showing in general. The design also changed from the broody brown coloured logo to a more vibrant green. The mermaid was also adapted to be more friendly.



In the 1990s, the company went through another incarnation and sought to be more family friendly and cross-culturally accessible. This resulted in cutting out the “risque” belly button and creating a close-up of the mermaid, thus simplifying the logo even more.



As the company has continued to adapt in its goals, vision, products and services, it makes sense that the logo has once again evolved. Ditching the word “coffee” and the black in the logo, they’ve gone for a simplistic and tremendously iconic text free design that is yet again a further close up on the mermaid. This design frees the company up to expand their product line to include items that are not related to coffee.



Some have been quite upset by this change. What do you think of the latest rendition?

PS. Want to read about the evolution of the iTunes icon? Well, I know just the right icon evolution blog


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