Are you a Starbucks lover?

The smell and taste of its coffee make us feel alive all day. But have you ever thought about how  Starbuck started and how it became a  global coffee giant?

Read along.. and let’s talk about:

1. How did the founders start their business?
2. How did it grow its net worth to $104.7B today?
3. How their logo evolves?

How it Started?

In 1971, Starbucks was founded by three individuals –  Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin, and Gordon Bowker. The three coffee lovers were influenced by Alfred Peet of Peet’s Coffee and opened up their own coffee shops in Seattle.


In the past, coffee beans are only sold in the grocery. The founders have found a way to attract customers.  So, they open their own independent store by selling only “not ready-brewed” roasted whole coffee beans, tea, and spices. They roast their coffee beans in Seattle and want to be known as a quality, fresh coffee beans store.


The name Starbucks takes its origin from the name of the first mate – Starbuck – in an iconic novel by Herman Melville, called Moby Dick. To complement a similar theme, they use a two-tailed siren as a logo known today.


What happened in 1986 was a pivotal moment for Starbucks. Here’s why…

Expansion into New Markets


Back In 1986, ​Howard Schultz was named the Director of Retail Operations. He was a major part of building the success of Starbucks and expanding it to where it is now.

During that time, Schultz suggested that Starbucks should sell drinks but was rejected by the founders. So, he left the company and started his own coffeehouse called IL GIORNALE.

A year after, Schultz bought Starbucks (with the help of Bill Gates Sr.) from the original founders for $4M and merged his six IL GIORNALE locations in Seattle. That year, Starbucks has a total of 11 locations and 100+ employees.

Starbucks sets its new vision which is bringing the community a sense of European coffeehouses.

In 1989, Schultz made an aggressive expansion and advertising putting the company into debt of $1M. Because of its popularity, Starbucks opened 9 locations in Chicago and increased its sales from $50M to $500M.

In 1992, before Starbucks planned to go public – selling each share for $17 – it gave its employee a stock option.  As the company continues to grow, it already expanded to 165 locations and increased its profit by 70-100%.

Starbucks got a lot of traction and to meet its demand, it opened its second roasting plant in Kent, Washington in 1993. As the company expanded outside of Seattle for the first time, it needed a new logo that would work in different markets.

Evolution of the Logo

Evolution is the secret to the next step!

Just like a caterpillar evolved into a butterfly, the Starbucks logo color and design evolved from a brown wooden pallet into a green modern design.

Below, you will see how the Starbucks logo has changed throughout the years.

The Original Logo

Terry Heckler is responsible for designing the first Starbucks logo in 1971. It featured a 16th-century Norse Mythology – the mythical twin-tailed mermaid inside of a circular ring with its coffee shop name spun around the siren.

It has a brown palette that signifies nurture and stability. Heckler metaphorically designs the siren as an enticing character to lure the customers into Starbucks.

1987 Starbucks Coffee Logo

When Howard Schults’ bought Starbucks, they swapped their brown apron for a green one. Its logo shifted also from brown to kelly green color pallet.

Indicating its fresh start, growth, and prosperity. A new logo was developed and the company was renamed “Starbucks Coffee”. This new design has two stars on each side, which ties the company name back to the logo.

“To symbolize the melding of the two companies [Il Giornale and Starbucks] and two cultures, Terry [Heckler] came up with a design that merged the two logos. We kept the Starbucks siren with her starred crown but made her more contemporary. We dropped the tradition-bound brown, and changed [Starbucks] logo’s color to Il Giornarle’s more affirming green.” – excerpt from Howard Schultz’s book “Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

1992 Starbucks Coffee Logo


It has been five years since Howard Schultz bought Starbucks and the logo was redesigned. The outer kelly green strip became pure green to indicate “inspire and nurture the human spirit”.

The siren was repositioned and cropped just above the navel, making it the main focus of the logo. ​The logo you’re seeing is still waved as a secondary logo today.


2011 Starbucks Coffee Logo

Finally, celebrating its 40th anniversary, Starbucks redesigned it for the last time (as of the writing) its logo. The in-house design team teamed up with Lippincott – a New York-based creative global consultancy – in 2011 to redesign its logo.

The team began its process by determining its core values.

“As a team, we were like, ‘There’s something not working here, what is it?’ It was like, ‘Oh, we need to step back and put some of that humanity back in. The imperfection was important to making her really successful as a mark.” – Connie Birdsall, Global Creative Director

From this, they retain the green palettes with minimalism in mind. Starbucks’ brand name was dropped entirely, leaving the Siren to remain intact. There were also adjustments to her face.

“[The Siren is] definitely about coffee but it’s about a lot more than coffee. It’s about…being good to people, being good to the world. That’s definitely something that we do in the way that we source our coffee and that we help farmers, the way we treat our customers, and the way we treat our partners. I think it’s about being good citizens of the planet and taking care of each other in that way and standing up for what we believe in.” – Steve Murray, creative director in the Starbucks Global Creative Studio

Eleven years after redesigning the logo, Starbucks still uses a similar logo.

In Summary..

Inspired by Alfred Peet, Starbucks’ was founded by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker in 1971. They opened an independent store selling roasted whole coffee beans, spices, and tea. Their business’s goal was to sell freshly roasted coffee beans.​

In 1986, Starbucks was sold to Howard Schultz. ​Starbucks sets its new vision which is bringing the community a sense of European coffeehouses. From then on, it expanded globally which is known today.

Starbucks’ original logo evolves from a brown wooden pallet into a green modern design. Its famous two-tailed Siren design was retained and evolved through time.

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