Starbucks logo

4 Ways the Starbucks Logo Became Iconic

Starbucks is among the top coffee shops in the world for teenagers and the young public. You don’t even need to drink Starbucks coffee to know the brand and how its logo looks like.

The Starbucks logo has reached its peak by being recognizable without including the brand’s name. Starbucks is the case study that many marketers look up to, as the company has a strong branding even on social media. We all know at least one person who occasionally posts a photo holding a branded cup.

woman holding Starbucks logo Images Source: Depositphotos.com

The iconic brand started out in 1971 when the first small coffee shop opened in Seattle, Washington. Starbucks operates in 22,519 stores, as of June 2015. However, the company remains loyal to its iconic mermaid.

The brand kept its concept throughout the years and as marketing trends came and gone.

The history of the Starbucks logo stands as proof of the ultimate brand awareness success.

1. Starbucks Began with a Strong Message

Starbucks opened its first coffee shop as a retailer in March 1971. At the time, the owners aimed to sell fine fresh-roasted whole bean coffee. Chairman Howard Schultz joined the shop ten years later and brought in more resources.

The Starbucks brand name was inspired from a character from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The brand’s founders wanted to design a logo which evoked Seattle’s maritime history. They found a 15 th century old sketch of a two-tailed mermaid in an old nautical book. The smiling mermaid with wavy hair and a crown would become the first Starbucks logo.

Initially, the mermaid was drawn in details, including bare breasts and lower half. However, the logo emphasized the brand’s connection to its home town. So, Starbucks took of with a well-defined and strong concept.

2. Simplifying the Visuals

Visual communication is essential as it can lift a brand to international fame or convict it to failure. A coffee shop is a friendly environment. Starbucks representatives realized that customers needed to remember Starbuck’s name easily, so they adjusted the logo in 1987.

Dark brown changed into a friendlier signature green. The new green would symbolize freshness, growth and prosperity and the fact that it was acquired by Howard Schultz.

Brand representatives connected this change to the moment when Starbucks started selling espresso beverages. The mermaid drawing became sketchier. Also, the Starbucks Coffee Tea Spices writing became Starbucks Coffee.

3. Logos Need to be Eye Friendly

The company became publicly traded and decided to make its logo even more appealing. Its design became cleaner in 1992. Therefore, the mermaid lost its lower half and became even sketchier. This image would remain the same one Starbucks would show up to date.

Such a branding initiative would throw the brand into the eyes of a young public who would purchase more of the coffee-based products that Starbucks would develop.

4. The Final Step of Branding

Starbucks announced that it would celebrate 40 years of existence in 2011. This was the time when Starbucks decided to remove its circle contour and the entire text. The logo would now stand by itself. Meanwhile, the mermaid would be shown in white, on a green background instead of a black one.

The two symbolic stars were also removed. Moreover, the mermaid close-up had to be friendly, so designers decided to re-draw an asymmetrical mermaid face. The sketch has a slight shade on her right side to minimize the mask effect.

The disappearing signature font would remain the same as the one used in 1971, even though it was adjusted to a bolder version throughout the years.

What Makes Starbucks Iconic

Starbucks coffee shop Images Source: Depositphotos.com

  • The brand received multiple awards based on its success. Among their titles there are one of
    the World’s Most Admired Companies (Fortune), World’s Most Ethical Companies (Etisphere)
    and Top 10 Millenial Brands (AdWeek).
  • Starbucks also received certifications such as 100% Rating on the Disability Equality Index
    and 100% Rating on the Corporate Equality Index.
  • The brand is famous for the tip employee-friendliness and contributed to the jar culture.
  • The brand also took advantage of social media and initiated specific brand awareness
    campaigns which had a global success.

Wrapping Up the Starbucks Logo Fame

The Starbucks logo is now so successful that the coffee shops don’t even feature the brand’s name any more. Clients have acknowledged the logo and have no trouble recognizing a shop.

Such a high fame is more common throughout clothing companies which feature their logos on products.

However, it remains impressive as usually coffee is consumed only one time per day. Brand recognition, visibility and consistence take part in each Starbucks initiative.

This could be a lesson to graphic designers and marketers altogether. The Starbucks logo case study lies as evidence that a logo can successfully function when customers recognize it.

Samuel Caverly

Samuel Caverly is the Senior Editor of Logo Realm, a place where you will find information regarding logos, their history, and interesting details. He has an MS in Advertising from Boston University and after graduation, he has worked for many projects and firms as a freelancing graphic designer.

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