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The Evolution of the Starbucks Logo

Originally posted: June 22, 2005

UPDATED: January 5, 2011

To coincide with its 40th anniversary, Starbucks Coffee is evolving its iconic logo. Since Starbucks is evolving its logo, it’s time to update the most searched and visited page on the Brand Autopsy Blog … THE EVOLUTION OF THE STARBUCKS LOGO.

Starbucks_Logo_Evolution


The Deadprogrammer’s Cafe Blog did some expert sleuthing to show the evolution of the Starbucks logo from the old school brown Nordic-inspired woodcut to the slicker, more contemporary logo we know today.

However, this logo evolution story failed to highlight the significant role the Il Giornale logo played in the evolution of the Starbucks logo. If it wasn’t for the green circle-shaped Il Giornale logo, the Starbucks logo may never have become what it is today.

(Il Giornarle was the espresso café Howard Schultz opened up in 1986 after failing to convince the original owners of Starbucks to focus on serving espresso beverages. By 1987, the two remaining original owners of Starbucks decided to sell the business and Howard jumped at the chance to buy Starbucks and remake it into the espresso bar concept he had just begun at Il Giornale.)

Lifting words directly from Howard Schultz’s POUR YOUR HEART INTO IT, here’s a more complete evolution of the Starbucks logo.

Sbux_logo_pre_1987_2
1971 – 1987

“Terry [Heckler] also poured over old marine books until he came up with a logo based on an old sixteenth-century Norse woodcut: a two-tailed mermaid, or siren, encircled by the store’s original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice. That early siren, bare-breasted and Rubenesque, was supposed to be as seductive as coffee itself.” [pg. 33]

Il_giornarleIl_giornale_logo_2

1986 – 1987

“Our logo reflected the emphasis on speed. The Il Giornale name was inscribed in a green circle that surrounded a head of Mercury, the swift messenger god.” [pg. 88] (Note: Please excuse the poor condition of the Il Giornale logo. I scanned the image from a many times photocopied memo from Il Giornarle letterhead.)

Sbux_logo_8792
1987 – 1992

“To symbolize the melding of the two companies [Il Giornarle and Starbucks] and two cultures, Terry [Heckler] came up with a design that merged the two logos. We kept the Starbucks siren with her starred crown, but made her more contemporary. We dropped the tradition-bound brown, and changed the logo’s color to Il Giornarle’s more affirming green.” [pg. 108]

Sbux_logo_today

1992 – 2011

“In 1992 we also asked Terry Heckler to revise our logo: She stayed mostly the same but lost her navel.” [pg. 309]

Starbucks_logo_2011

2011 – and beyond


“This new evolution of the logo … embraces and respects our heritage and at the same time, evolves us to a point where we will feel it’s more suitable for the future. The new interpretation of the logo … gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee but make no mistake … we will continue to be the world’s leading purveyor of the highest-quality coffee.” [source]

50 Comments

  • Sarge says:

    That’s very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  • New StarbucksIn just two days, a new Starbucks will be opening that is so close to my house that I can actually see it from our second floor! Depending on how you look at it, this is really, really good

  • The $tarbuck$ logo, then and nowFrom Brand Autopsy: The Evolution of the Starbucks Logo….

  • anindo says:

    very cool! nice post!!

  • Want a Logo like Starbucks?So many young brands look at Nike, Mini Cooper, or Starbucks and say,

  • The $tarbuck$ logo, then and now  [Brewed Fresh Daily] From Brand Autopsy: The Evolution of the Starbucks Logo…

  • Love this. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Janice Merritt says:

    I heard your company is being boycott because you oppose the war in Iraq. Any truth to this?….

  • Andre says:

    I think that we should save the current melusine.Have you heard the connection of the logo with Christianity’s Mary Magdalene?? How the M shapes on her crown and in her tail represent that?? But that can be obvious and crazy. BUt also wasn’t starbucks original logo a whale and was inspired by Moby Dick, which can be read by many as a metaphor for spirituality??Check out:http://www.endicott-studio.com/jMA03Summer/theMermaid.htmlAnd what’s even more shocking is Mary Magdalene’s uncanny connection with Disney’s Ariel. But that’s a different subject for now.

  • juan Carlos says:

    The starbucks logo looks more like the Knights Templar Sealhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar_Sealand the templar seal comes in 2 colors black and greenalso look at the egyptian number 1,000,000 it is of a figure holding a branch on each armalso look at king tutankamon white alebaster cup you will see the same figure

  • Sepia Mutiny says:

    Sakharam ShyamalanThat *$ siren with wavy hair whom you’re ogling is Sarita Choudhury: British actress Sarita Choudhury has been signed up for a role in M. Night Shyamalan’s next big film Lady in the Water… M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film tells …

  • josh says:

    what is the common link between mermaids and coffee?

  • Hembina says:

    hiwhat do mermaids with 2 tails have to do with coffee?Hembina

  • regado says:

    nahh, to me the 1971 logo looks more like a fat guy (you know how fat guys some times have the breasts like that) with long hair bringing 2 weird looking pineapple-eggplants into to the kitchen.2 see Real mermaids you should visit http://www.save-the-mermaids.com( or http://web.mac.com/regados/iWeb/Site/MWM%20Home.html if the above link is not working)and if you do it ontime you can get a FREE mermorph for you or your girlfriend.cheers!R

  • Kendall says:

    hahafor some reason, reading everyone elses comments above makes me ROTFL:)

  • Boris says:

    Looks like a gogo-dancer princess with her legs thrown up behind her head to me…

  • seattlechelsea1 says:

    The connection between the coffee and the mermaid? Its the lure….the seduction she represents. We are, (in the end) taken in by the coffee…we are seduced by the smell of the beans….and THAT, friends and germs…is the link.

  • darren chapman says:

    STARBUCKS IS THA BESTEST!!!!! I MAY ONLY BE 13, BUT IT STILL ROCKS!!!

  • Beulah True says:

    Well, some interesting theories as to the origin of the current incarnation of the corporate logo (a British actress, Mary Magdalene, Knights Templar seal, etc.), but I think you will have to agree that all of these theories fall dreadfully flat in light of the fact that it is almost a perfect dead-ringer for a carving of the pagan goddess Astarte, right down to the wavy hair and starry crown, with the only difference being that the arms are curved inward to make for a neater circle. (I’ve a graduate degree in art history, BTW, for what it’s worth.) Don’t believe me? Check it out and then decide for yourselves; below is a link which has a direct side-by-side comparison of the current corporate logo and the ancient carving of Astarte of which I write.http://la.cacophony.org/starbucks.html

  • David says:

    The starbucks logo looks like a cheep hooker with her legs spread. And what about social and environmental responsibility, isnt Starbuck a part of the whaling industry?

  • Betsy says:

    Pagan goddess is correct, however it was a Canaanite Goddess that the people would off their children to as burnt offerings to pay homage to this pagan goddess. Corporations usually take on a logo of something that has something to do with the occult whether it is deliberate or accidental. This logo was not created but imitated. If Starbucks knew of this do you think they would continue to keep it as their logo? Probably since most people don’t pay attention to these things anyway but it does however have a spiritual connection. Hey I drink it too! and each time I am reminded of this pagan goddess. Kinda make me feel a little strange and I think of going back to drinking dunkin’ donuts coffee now that I am aware of this.

  • Betsy says:

    Canaanite worship consisted in human sacrifice, preferably first-born children, as a burnt offering to Ba’al and consort, Astarte. This detestable and inhuman pagan custom of slaying and then cremating the victim, also practiced at Tyre in honor of Melcarth, was severely condemned by the Mosaic Law and was made punishable by the death of the guilty party (Lev.18,21; 20, 2-5)

  • Troy Adair says:

    Interesting link to http://la.cacophony.org/starbucks.html from the above poster. But, where did you get that picture? Why no source?

  • Fnord says:

    “If Starbucks knew of this do you think they would continue to keep it as their logo?”Great care and planning go into company logos. Do you think it’s merely happenstance? Well think again, Batman.

  • Brandubh says:

    “Great care and planning go into company logos. Do you think it’s merely happenstance? Well think again, Batman.”Do YOU honestly think Starbucks would’ve chosen a logo associated with a cannibalistic goddess? The image was meant to look like a Siren, with the wavy hair to cover her breasts. The similarity to Astarte is much more likely to be coincidental than intentional.

  • Jim's Balls says:

    She is a Siren or a Melusine. Yeah the original logo was taken from a book that came out in the 15th century. (http://www.deadprogrammer.com/photos/siren-book.jpg) The Starbucks company made some minor adjustments to it. Awesome, huh?

  • Jim's Balls says:

    Evetually the logo will alter its self so much that you can’t tell what it is unless you see the original logo.

  • Candy Land! says:

    Do they still use the same beans they used in 1971? (If there is a difference in beans.) And what happened to the two hippies who orginally started the joint?

  • I sodomize two tailed mermaids for fun! It's a sport where I come from. says:

    I drink Starbucks Coffee before a big game in the sport I play.

  • Moby Dick's dick. says:

    The logo didn’t come from Moby Dick. The name “Starbucks” came from Moby Dick.

  • Ian Hill says:

    When I was young and when Starbucks had the original logo I’d stare at the logo and get aroused by her titties! I had a lot of fun times locked inside my bedroom with a coffee cup.

  • Chris Weinus says:

    They spelled “pored” incorrectly.

  • espressoterraca says:

    This link image is SO PHONY!!!http://la.cacophony.org/starbucks.htmlIt is a superimposed image of the bottom ofan ancient relief of ISHTAR/LILITH with the top head of the Starbucks siren. Do an image search of ISHTAR or LILITH and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Richard A. Rodriguez says:

    Spotted this yesterday:http://www.flickr.com/photos/iluvyourwork/2312429285/If it is a new logo, they must be scaling back their branding presence (which is great), I just wish it wasn’t so…bad.

  • Not new. Starbucks has used that cursive script for many years. It’s used more on internal stuff, like the stainless steel milk dispensers depicted in that photo.

  • george senda says:

    Starbuck’s coffee is too strong.They have driven out some great independent coffee places or have bought up competitors and closed them.I very infrequently buy coffee at Starbucks & since I heard that they were screwing their clerks ( I refuse to use the stupid barrista term ) out of their tips, I am livid.They own Seattle’s Best Coffee which is in Borders & also have the coffee bars in Barnes & Noble. I wonder if they screw their clerks out of their tips there too ?

  • Christian says:

    Thanks for filling in the gaps. As I sat there and sipped my “fresh roasted” coffee today, I wondered about this nearly pornographic new icon. It’s interesting to see that it all reflects Starbuck’s interest in returning to their roots and not something new. Too bad the coffee wasn’t particularly worth returning to. http://manseekingcoffee.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/starbuckspikesplace/

  • typogrid says:

    Usually I don’t read the comments of blogs, but you reminded me how stupid most americans are. Sorry! Does any one you know wich country the coffee “invented”? It wasn’t america and of course not Starbucks. And a real coffee naturally doesn’t contains sirups. But I think Starbucks are on a good way. They lost his roots and the flair for good and quality coffee culture. You may find in most parts of europe a real coffee culture (where the roots are). There you can really smell the melt of fresh rosted coffee.Starbucks is a figure in Herman Melvilles novel “Moby Dick” and I can’t see” the pornographic new(?) icon” … prude people. It’s just a historic icon of a mermaid. I don’t want imagine what you guys are doing with this Starbucks cups.I have some ideas for the “relaunch” and marketing ideas but it isn’t my work and normally I get money for it.Nothing more to say…I think I wasted my time!

  • MeMo says:

    Late on the Sbux logo — but we’ll DO IT LIVE!!!!I’m very late on the draw on this one, but the new (temporary) brown Starbucks logo has bugged me endlessly since it started appearing (reappearing) on the cups in recent weeks. As you know, all of my disposable income goes…

  • Poor StarbucksUsually it’s just being lambasted by coffee aficionados, local business supporters, pop culture critics, American culture critics, or people who question their “Fair Trade” policies with coffee growers. Add…

  • sandrajean says:

    Your new logo is crap but I don’t care because as long as you keep selling your great coffee, that is what matters to me.

  • Phil Oak says:

    Personally, I like the 1971-1987 logo as it looks like it is part of history, and in factit is history. Look at all the old-time mariners, their ships and even in the museums they depicted the Siren in many ways, on the bow of ships, over and or part of the old pubs and in many establishments open to the public.Been to a library lately and looked in the marine section, yep there their as well. I do not see anyone having a tizzy fit over them.Sounds like some people who think their holeyer than thou, have the right to change history and that is not good. Let the few attempting to be on tv and get air time look foolish. They certainly do not need any help to do that.Bottom line, I see nothing wrong with the new logo other than it looks like a cartoon compared to the 1971 – 1987 logo which looks correct. (did you ever read or hear about mermaids when you were a kid?) You were proud of your logo then so why not be proud of it now? Resurrect the old style as it showed class, and go with what you like not what others want. Do you feel you need to modify it? Keep one tail, and change the other into a coffee bag of Starbucks beans she could be holding up. Have a nice day.

  • Tribalnoizes says:

    This article was an interesting find; I’ve never seen any other logo but the one that’s presently used, I guess ’cause I was so late in getting to try Starbucks coffee (late ninties). I also think its funny that no one you’d talked to knew what “the things on the side of her head” were. Its so obvious that they’re parts of a mermaids tail!LOL. I’ve just always wondered why she had two and was spreadin’ ‘em.

  • aceon says:

    Its very interesting article. Thanx! Good job.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MelusineThe original woodcut probably one of the many medieval depictions of the folktale. Also, for those of you reading french:http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Compagnons_du_cr%C3%A9puscule

  • Vanessa says:

    I have been studying Free Masonry and all those things for a while now. I’m also a practicing Eclectic Pagan of four years or so.Alot of the Freemasons control things (like money, companies, etc) therefore they put symbolism on stuff for various reasons. (Much like the candles on a birthday cake represent how old you are, you wear pink on Valentines day) Like the S logo, to seduce you. And they usually use Pagan gods and goddesses as symbols. (Adidas is a Greek Goddess, the same with Nike.)Like I said to seduce you, after all money does make the world go round – even since ancient times, it’s not that new.I heard also the Siren could represent the Hindu goddess Lahkshmi. The goddess of wealth and prosperity. And she is also a goddess of Water.So different tie-ins there.

  • Lyndsay says:

    hey interesting evolution of the starbucks logo…

  • Glenn says:

    “That early siren, bare-breasted and Rubenesque, was supposed to be as seductive as coffee itself.” Just like in the court room: once naked the statue of Justice got draped, so the truth started to get covered. Same with Starbucks: once siren image was made less seductive the quality of coffee went down the drain!

  • Mark M says:

    I would think the mermaid also has to do with fertility, and luck…

  • arun says:

    i very pleasure to taste it i want to become a regular customer…….