After decades of encouraging genuine, and often spontaneous, moments of connection within their walls, Starbucks has amassed a loyal following that’s as addicted to their brand as they are to their product. Today, you can spot the familiar green logo in 17,000 different neighborhoods across 55 countries. In each of those distinct locations, they’ve moved beyond the bean and even the traditional retail concept. Approaching their 40th anniversary, Starbucks saw the milestone as an opportunity to clarify their future vision with a re-imagination of the customer experience and visual expression of their global brand.
Lippincott partnered with Starbucks to bring this vision to life all over the world. Together, we crafted a design platform that affords Starbucks the freedom and flexibility to explore new products and regional opportunities, while keeping in step with their current and future customers.
Developing a new visual language
Looking forward to the next 40 years, Starbucks had to evolve their three strongest assets: their celebrated product, their controlled environment and their ubiquity in the U.S. market. Starbucks evolution from cups to pints, coffee shops to supermarkets, and the U.S. to the world would require a proprietary visual language and toolkit to support it.
We found that simplifying the logo actually opened up opportunities for the brand. We removed the “Starbucks Coffee” banner encircling the siren to signal their departure from coffee-centricity.
The Starbucks Siren has always been a figure of alluring familiarity, whether it be in our own neighborhood or on the crowded street of a foreign city. She became our guide as we developed a set of international design principles to help maintain Starbucks distinctive presence across increasingly varied environments. We took inspiration from the waves of her hair and the stripes in her tail.
You can find traces of the siren across the full, refreshed visual toolkit. Her wavy hair becomes a graphic pattern. The shapes in her crown adorn their credit card. And next time you open your Starbucks app, take note of the background. She’s an elusive symbol, but one that feels perpetually present. In fact, Starbucks retail stores worldwide have been stripped of obvious branding for a clean, modernized interior. The distinct Starbucks feel is achieved through the consistent application of Siren patterns across both packaging and environmental design.
These Siren-inspired visual elements help set the brand apart from its admirers and identity thieves. When we began working with Starbucks, coffee shops around the world were exploiting variations of the Starbucks name and logo. Venus-like figures emerging from black and green circles posed a challenge for the Starbucks brand. However, the new proprietary design language allows Starbucks to remain simple, yet striking. Our design ensures the global brand can maintain its distinct identity across all their environments, including the digital space.
Since launching its new identity, Starbucks has reported tremendous growth, with stock prices almost tripling. The Starbucks brand continues to build relevance in key markets, including China and the Asia Pacific. And the expansion of their digital offering has ushered in a new era of convenience for the customer.