Starbucks is one of the world’s largest coffee shops, with 16,700 locations (second only to McDonald’s and Subway). We’re seeing more and more of the renowned mermaid emblem pop up everywhere, as a new store opens every day. No one can disagree that it’s a great spot to get a salted caramel mocha or an iced caffe latte, but the meaning behind the logo has always been a mystery.
So where did co-founders Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin, and Zev Siegl get the name?
They set out with a basic purpose in mind: to come up with a company name that began with the letter “St.” The three founders began searching through any material they could find after hearing from advertising experts that a few words, such as these, had strong brand value. Someone dug out an old mining map and discovered the small settlement of Starbo.
Gordon Bowker, one of the Co-founders, immediately thought of Moby Dick. Starbuck, Captain Ahab’s first mate and a no-nonsense crew member of the Pequod, is a character in the classic book. He’s known for his peaceful temperament and moral virtue throughout the book. Unlike the coffee firm that bears his name, he isn’t the sort to overindulge.
“If Starbucks were Starbuck,” one online study guide for Moby-Dick said, “you’d only ever get a large coffee with 2 percent milk.” Starbucks picked this name because it recalls “the romance of the high seas and the seafaring history of coffee traders,” according to the company’s website.
How does the mysterious green logo tie in?
The mermaid-like figure on the front of our favourite cups is supposed to portray a seductive sea siren, in keeping with the brand’s nautical concept. She has no connection to the fictional figure Starbuck, but she has been intimately connected to the company’s powerful name.
You’ll have a better understanding of where that intriguing name came from the next time you walk into a Starbucks. It may be perplexing, but hey! It’s the perfect anecdote to tell over a cup of coffee.