Starbucks’ Visual Branding And The Correlation To Their Brand Success


Back in 1971, when Starbucks was first founded as a small coffee shop in a dingy Seattle neighborhood, nobody in their right mind could have predicted that what was initially just a glorified café will eventually turn into one of the biggest multinational corporations in the world. In fact, you can apply the same anecdote to every successful modern company – Google, Apple, you name it.

So, what do all of these companies have in common, apart from dominating nearly every aspect of our daily lives and reaching the status of near ubiquitousness? The answer to this question is quite simple: their logos. More precisely, the way these companies incorporated visual branding into their corporate identity and used it to bolster their reach and influence. In this article, we will be discussing how Starbucks used things such as brand awareness and marketing to reach people and attract more attention to their service. Here is Starbucks’s visual branding and the correlation to their brand success.

Basic Elements of Starbuck’s Logo Design and History

Presently, the company logo features a medium sized green circle, with a Siren. As you might already know, Sirens are dangerous mythological creatures that, according to Greek and Roman legends, preyed on sailors by luring them with their enchanting music and beautiful singing voices by leading their ships into the rocky coasts.

This, of course, does not mean that the Starbucks Siren has some nefarious symbolism behind it, like Starbucks luring unassuming customers to their Spiced Lattes. The explanation behind their logo choice is quite simple. Back in 1971, when the founders came up with the idea, they landed on the name Starbucks inspired by Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s famous novel.

While browsing through several old marine books, they came across a picture with a siren in an ancient Norse Woodcut. They liked the picture and chose to incorporate it into the company’s logo. So, ironically, you could say that the Siren called to them, as the mythological creatures do.

Throughout the years, the image has suffered some modifications, adapting to the times. However, it did retain its basic elements. Probably one of the most famous starbucks logo changes since the company’s founding is the shift from rich coffee brown to today’s deep green. The shape and font have also suffered some alterations.

Connection Between the Brand and Local Culture

However, the connection between the company and this logo goes beyond the fact that the founders simply liked how it looked. As you might know, Seattle is one of the biggest port cities in the United States, so there is a strong link between the locals and seafaring in general. Secondly, coffee travels for long and often excruciating distances across water to end up on our shelves.
Whatever the case, the logo worked for two main reasons: it made sense on a local level, and it helped the company get traction when it hit the mainstream due to the fact that it was a breath of fresh air amongst the bland and uninspired corporate logos of the time.

Size, Fonts and Consistency

When it comes to visual branding, there are several ways to exploit it to your advantage. Throughout the years, Starbucks has invested tons of financial resources both to expand their business and to create a standardized look for their merchandise, food, drinks as well as stores. It is no wonder why the Starbucks Siren logo is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. No matter where you go – New York, Tokyo, London -, if you walk into a Starbucks, you will have the same experience.

But how exactly can one correlate Starbucks’ visual branding to their overall success? The answer is not singular, and most of them are interlinked, so we will try to make a brief analysis to figure this out.

First off, let us talk about the size and font of the logo. Let us get one thing out of the way: if you want your business to be successful, you need to get your startup image right because it will influence both the culture of the company and how the public perceives it down the line.
In our day and age, sadly, having a great product is not always enough to be successful – you have to find innovative ways to get it noticed. Even if a lack of branding is not the sole reason why many startups fail, investing as much time and effort could mean the difference between besting your competitors or losing ground to a rival with a lesser product that was more marketing savvy.

As a result, the size, as well as the font of the logo, should be chosen with care. The size, design and structure of the logo should be appropriate for social media so that it can be easily spotted. As for the color of the logo, simplicity is key. The pallets that work the best are those that people can refer to on a regular basis and convey the message that the founders of the company want to transmit.

But even more important than the colors, fonts and design of the logo is consistency. Starbucks have strived, both through their logos and products, to transmit the idea that their products will always be in accordance with the company’s philosophy. That is why the company’s attempt to revamp their logo a few years ago (when they switched green with black) backfired in a considerable way.


The reason why their revamp enjoyed such a bad reception is because people were just too accustomed to the old green logo. And it makes total sense if we take a look at our personal experiences. What is the first thing that you think about when you see a green logo in a crowded city center, even if you can’t read it from a distance? That is right, you make the connection with Starbucks. And that is why their visual branding tactics were so successful.

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