I have been a barista for Starbucks for almost four years and because of this, I see the company’s logo almost daily. The logo is also extremely well-known due to the company’s popularity and recently, it’s “controversial” holiday cup designs. The logo appears in Starbucks cafés, on their cups and on their many products sold in grocery stores. The siren featured in the logo is a common theme in Starbucks retail items, such as mugs, and the logo’s iconic circular shape is often presented on these retail items without any text to accompany it.
The logo has undergone multiple transformations since its inception in 1971. Unlike previous versions of the logo, the brand name has been omitted. The most recent rendition features a green circle with the white figure of a double-tailed siren. The image is two-dimensional and there are no shadows or highlights. The curves of the siren’s two tails also create a circular shape that surrounds the siren’s upper body. Six undulating white lines represent her hair. The contours of her eyes, lips and nose are suggested by green silhouetted shapes on her face. Atop the siren’s head is a white crown with a star in the center.
The omission of the brand name from the logo is an ambitious step in the logo’s evolution. It requires the viewer to have a previous knowledge of the brand. This shows that Starbucks is aware of their large audience and this design ensures that viewers no longer need to see the brand name to associate this logo with their products. The colors are not jarring and the curvilinear forms (such as her hair and two tails) of the logo are relaxed and inviting. The mysterious smile on the siren’s face is enticing and welcoming. These elements contribute to the perception of a calm environment which Starbucks wants to create within its cafés, perhaps prompting a customer to sit and enjoy their coffee rather than rush out the door. This image of the siren is important to the company’s roots; it pays homage to the nautical voyage of coffee across the world as well as Seattle’s identity as a port city.