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Famous Logo Design History: Starbucks

Starbucks is probably one of the most recognized and loved brands around the globe. But you've probably looked at Starbucks logo and wondered – I know I did – who was that lady with the wavy hair and what does she stands for. To better understand the symbolism lets start with the beginning.

Starbucks was founded in 1971, in Seattle, and was functioning as a coffee bean roaster and retailer called Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices. The company was named after a character in the novel Moby Dick, and managed to become today the largest coffeehouse company in the entire world.

On a trip to Italy, Howard Schultz, the true visionary behind Starbucks name, was inspired to develop a coffeehouse chain in the US and he founded the company Il Giornale.  In 1987, Schultz purchased Starbucks Coffee, merged it with Il Giornale coffeehouse, and renamed it Starbucks Corporation.

The original logo used as a symbol a character from the Greek mythology representing – have you guessed? – a siren, or a two tailed mermaid wearing a crown. The Starbucks siren was topless and had a fully-visible double fish tail. Even if the logo has raised some controvery because of the bare chest of the siren, it continues to appear on some of the anniversary products even today.

Il Giornale had a similar logo to Starbucks, being circular and having a band, the current Starbucks logo preserving even at this time the stars from the original Il Giornale logo design.

After Schultz purchased Starbucks, the siren logo underwent a series of alterations to adjust to the new corporate image. The mermaid icon was stylized, the breasts were covered by her wavy hair, but the siren was still depicted as a whole, and you could still understand to a certain degree what was it all about. At this point the logo inherited the stars and the green color from the original Il Giornale logo.

Starbucks further updated their logo and in the current design the siren image was cropped even more so that only a part of her double-tail is visible. At this point, without knowing the Starbucks logo history, I couldn't figure on my own what the logo represented. At this time, the brown full-body, bear-breasted double-tailed mermaid is still to be found on some of Starbucks anniversary products though. A small hint of Starbucks logo history.