For coffee lovers everywhere, the Starbucks Siren is easily one of the most recognizable logos around. And that makes sense when you think about how ingrained the Starbucks brand is in our everyday lives. Depending on where you live or the types of people you work with, you may very well see one of those iconic Starbucks cups every single day. Personally, I pass three different Starbucks locations on my four minute walk from the subway to my office every morning. That means I see that giant green Siren looking down at me six different times, five days a week. She has become part of our world. But, have you ever stopped to wonder why the founders of Starbucks chose a Siren to represent their roasting company? A recent Forbes article takes us through the fascinating history.
According to Forbes, a Seattle journalist named Gordon Bowker teamed up with a graphic designer named Terry Heckler back in the 1970s, and they set out to build a brand dedicated to bringing people a new kind of coffee. Together, they decided the brand should pay homage to city of Seattle, and even more specifically they wanted it to “embody a unique sense of adventure” and “the seafaring history” of the Pacific Northwest. That train of thought quickly led the duo to an important piece of American literature, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. As anyone who has read the epic will remember, the ship’s first mate was named Mr. Starbuck. Apparently, they two were drawn to the letter "S," so the name was chosen for the coffee company.
For further inspiration, Heckler, who was in charge of designing the company's logo, began investigating old illustrations of sirens, mermaids, and other mythical sea creatures. Forbes explains that the very first version of that now well-known Starbucks Siren was brown and looked a tad menacing. Her nipples were exposed and her tail was split in two. By the early 90s, the Siren had evolved quite a bit. Her hair now covered her breasts, her face was more pleasant and inviting, and she was a soft green color. She had become the type of creature sailors might be happy to encounter while out to sea and no longer one that might be feared. As recently as 2011, the company removed all words from the logo, perhaps because the Siren had become so recognizable, the chain’s cups and other product no longer needed to say “Starbucks Coffee.”
So, it turns out that lady of the sea — the one who has served you hundreds of Pike Place Roasts and Frappuccinos, given you the option of tall, grande, and venti, and completely redefined how we think about coffee — she's been through a lot. And we can't wait to see how she evolves next!