Starbucks: Making Coffee Cool For 45 Years

It’s hard to imagine that things from the 1970s can or would be classified as vintage but if our Pinterest is anything to go by, hippy chic acting as the hot style at festivals, Star Wars being the biggest deal in cinema, Elton John touring and John Travolta being on TV again, it’s safe to say that we are now looking back to the 1970s for inspiration. There is one brand though which launched in the 70s and still manages to look sleek and modern, and all they do is sell coffee.

If you never knew, Starbucks was founded in 1971 at Pike Place Market in Seattle. The small company did a great job of perking people up when needs be, but now it’s the 4th biggest chain in the world (the top 3 are KFC, Subway and McDonalds FYI) and with a location of almost every other corner in city centres across the globe, its quite a surprise to think of them as a vintage company; especially when you’ve never seen this before:

old logo

This is the original Starbucks logo. It’s of a half woman/ half animal known as a Siren and was a type of illustration dating all the way back to the 15th century. The original logo was created at a time when the small store, in the market, sold a select number of items:


The company would make coffee for anyone needing a hot drink, but it originally sold coffee beans, tea and different types of spices by the pound; a long time before cinnamon spiced lattes where the only spice you’d see in a Starbucks.

In the 80s, Starbucks spread out from Seattle every so slowly and made its way across the country . At the time the logo needed to appeal quickly and the brown was dropped in favour of the mossy green logo above. We really like this logo but there is one very big problem with it.

As the company took off and started to open more locations, it would need to tone down the image a little, especially when the company logo has what is essentially a naked lady on the front showing herself rather suggestively. The solution to this was quite simple and if you have a cup in front of you right now you’ll see that they managed to keep a naked lady on the front but placing the hair to the front and cutting off anything below the mid section to make a logo that looks like this:

For the 90s and early 00s this was the image that exploded across the world as we all became coffee, and Starbucks, obsessed. It’s a great logo at it manages to look more 1920s than 1970s thanks in large part to the use of the Gibson Font which was been bolded and curved in a slightly distorted manner. The stars on either side are a bit like the star on a pair of classic Converse Chuck Taylor, which were created in 1917 and worn by a relatively unknown basketball player who made a name for himself training and selling the shoe which now graces his name (if you get a chance you should really have a look in to the history of Converse shoes as they’re great stories of simplistic design and thinking)

Now this logo did well for a good time, but again as we hit 2014 Starbucks needed to make more changes for their logo to make it both modern and timeless as the same time, something you could argue only Pepsi and Coca Cola have managed to do. It took a little bit of transparency to do the job.

This is what the Starbucks logo looks like today. With its status as an established brand now, it can take the brave step of ditching the need for the name on its products.If you walk in to a location and take a look at Starbucks packaging, you’ll now usually see the logo sitting in the top corner, rather than being stamped right in the middle. There are a few good reasons for the company to make this big change. They can use it internationally without having to rely on translation issues/ The symbol makes it easier to stand out/ The logo looks better on social profiles & apps etc

We think it is quite smart for a company as big as Starbucks to maintain a quirky and vintage look as they become more modern. While we’ll take a solid cup of filter coffee over a vanilla frappuccino any day, it always is nice to see their symbol and now that it hasn’t taken a futuristic look that is just baffling (we’re looking at you Uber!)


P.S. If anyone knows where I could get one of these old mugs please let me know!

P.P.S I found this video on YouTube that gives a good explainer of the logo: