Evolution of brands: Starbucks

This week we will be focusing on the evolution of American super companies over the past few years and how they use and develop their logos to maintain maximum brand identity and to develop growth as a company. Today we are looking at Starbucks, one of the largest coffee retailers around and how the development of their logo first began.

Starbucks is a leading marketer and retailer of specialty coffee. In 2011 it accounted for a market volume share of 6.1% in the U.S and a company retail share by volume (number of outlets) of 739 in the UK in 2010, making it the second biggest coffee company in the UK. The company first began its journey over 40 years ago in the 1970’s. It started off in a small retail space in Seattle’s Pike Place Market as a roaster and retailer of high-quality coffees from around the world. At this time in history, ordering a hot chocolate or flavoured latte was out of the question as whole bean coffee was the only beverage offered. The extensive range of frothy coffees and iced cappuccinos didn’t come until over a decade later, however at this early stage of its journey, the Siren also began her journey and was as much a part of Starbucks story then as she is today.

In a search to capture the seafaring history of Starbucks coffee and Seattle’s strong seaport roots, the company found a 16th century Norse woodcut of a twin tailed mermaid or siren. It is believed to be a mystery mixed with a nautical theme. A logo was designed around her and Starbucks long lasting relationship with their siren began.

The siren is Starbucks logo and brand identity. She is a mythological figure which represents the romance and creativity that first inspired the founders of the company over 40 years ago and will no doubt continue to inspire the public for the next 40 years. The idea behind the design is simplicity and elegance and it is now recognised all over the world.

In March 2011 Starbucks marked its 40th birthday and as part of the celebration, announced the new development to its logo. This development liberates the Siren from the outer ring making her stand out more and continuing to be the welcoming face of Starbucks. The new logo started appearing on people’s favourite beverage before ending up as the completely new face of the brand in over 16,500 stores. As always social media played a big part in the new brand development with a lot of comments being posted on Facebook of people sharing their views on the new liberated siren. At first there were mixed reviews of positive and negative comments but as people started to get used to the idea all reactions soon turned positive.

When developing the logo, Starbucks wanted to recognise and honour the importance of the iconic Starbucks logo. They started the creation by breaking the logo down into four sections- colour, shape, typeface and siren. After hundreds of different ideas and designs they believe they found the answer in simplicity. They decided to remove the words from the logo, bring in the green and bring the siren out of the ring. Later came the details. 20 years ago the logo was built in the days of autotrace and it showed points everywhere. They enhanced the siren in subtle ways by smoothing her hair and refining her face to bring it more into focus than her tail. Today she is more expressive and energetic as her vibrant colours are recognized by many all over the world.

It’s an interesting story hearing about how the Starbucks have modified their brand identity by developing the siren to adapt to change since the company first launched over 40 years ago. The story of the siren shows the growth of the company and how they have centred their values on and around the siren, these being simplicity, creativity and energy. As Starbucks have grown as a brand so has their logo which is now fully recognised all over the world creating a very strong brand identity for Starbucks. As the company continue to grow over the next 40 years it will be interesting to see how the logo develops even further to adapt to change and future trends.

Evolution of brands: Starbucks