Since 1971, the siren has been a symbol of Starbucks – mysterious and alluring.
The original inspiration for the twin-tailed mythological figure was an ancient woodcut found in an old marine book. She became the center of the company’s first logo, looking much like she did centuries ago, encircled in a brown band with the words, “Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices.” Her image hung at the entrance to the company’s first store and on simple paper packages of the whole-bean arabica coffee Starbucks roasted and sold.
That changed in 1996 when the Starbucks unveiled Anniversary Blend as a tribute to its 25th year in business. The coffee was complex and full-bodied with a distinctive spicy, bold flavor from the rare aged Sumatra which is carefully monitored for three to five years before roasting.
The packaging for the first Anniversary Blend liberated the siren from her circle. Here she is seen in her home undersea – hair swirling against a coffee-brown background, coffee cup held aloft. Sepia tones evoked the original brown logo. Although legend has it that Anniversary Blend was only intended to be offered for only a few weeks, popular demand brought it back every autumn since then, with the siren at its center of the design.
For 2015’s Anniversary Blend, Starbucks senior designer Victor Melendez was given the task of reimagining the packaging. Once he received design approval, he created the individual components as separate layers bringing in more dimension by using organic linework, texture and bright colors.
He started by drawing his design in pen and ink, using detailed strokes. He then turned to the separate watercolor pieces for the coloring of his drawing and the background. For the siren, he added more color – the hair a coppery red, her tail a blue-green. For the background, he created a waterscape with an ethereal, cosmic quality.
“Even though she’s underwater, it still feels a bit celestial,” he said. Melendez then scanned the layers, adjusted each component digitally and added in the text.
The finished design features the siren with a coy expression beneath her golden crown, a branch from a coffee tree in her left hand. In a nod to the past, this siren is also holding a cup of coffee – only in Melendez’s version the cup is gently floating above her open palm.