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Jul 10, 2024

Hear the sirens: The untold story behind the Starbucks logo

Choosing a two-tailed mermaid as the face of a coffee company is quite unusual. So why does this mythological creature appear on your Starbucks cup?


The Starbucks logo, a deep green circle with an alluring two-tailed siren at its centre, has left an indelible mark on our collective consciousness.

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This captivating emblem has evolved, starting with a detailed brown twin-tailed siren and undergoing three simplifications to its current iconic form.

While the mythological creature at the heart of the logo is often referred to as a siren, it also embodies elements of a mermaid or a Melusine, each carrying unique symbolic meanings.


Is the Starbucks Logo a Siren, Mermaid, or Melusine?

The terminology used to describe the Starbucks logo can influence how people perceive the company and its image.

While the mythological creature in the coffee company’s logo is often referred to as a siren, it also incorporates elements of a mermaid and a Melusine, each carrying unique symbolic meanings.

The siren, with her enchanting song, traditionally led sailors to danger in Greek mythology, while mermaids are often portrayed more positively in fairy tales as half-human, half-fish creatures. Melusines, on the other hand, are female spirits associated with sacred wells or rivers, sometimes depicted with serpent or fish tails and wings.


Who Is the Starbucks Siren, Really?

Starbucks claims the siren in their logo pays homage to the 16th-century Norse woodcut and the maritime history of coffee trading, linking their brand to the global journey of coffee beans.

When the founders of Starbucks chose their name in 1971, they were actually inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The next challenge was to design a logo. As they delved into old maritime books, they were drawn to a mysterious nautical figure that resembled a siren. Steve Murray, who served as Creative Director at the Starbucks Global Creative Studio until July 2022, highlighted two significant links between Starbucks and the maritime world.

Firstly, Seattle, the company’s hometown, is a historic port city. Secondly, coffee itself often travels great distances by sea, arriving at the port in large container ships.

However, the concept of the siren predates this, with early depictions found in 7th-century Byzantine mosaics. European folklore, like the tale of Raymondin and Melusine, further enriches the legacy of these mythical beings.

@diginsights Starbucks’ logo evolved so much since 1971. But what does the iconic logo mean? #starbucks #starbuckslogo #brandlogo #starbuckshistory #branding #logo ♬ r&b loop - Official Sound Studio


More Than a Simple Branding Choice

While the Starbucks siren may seem a simple branding choice, its deep-rooted symbolism invites us to contemplate whether it metaphorically lures us into daily coffee indulgence.

The mystery behind this iconic logo continues to intrigue and inspire, adding layers of meaning to our daily caffeine rituals.

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Julie Bacova
Visual Design student, 1st year, Milan