Ever Evolving : how the logo designs of Starbucks, Apple and Google have changed

February 18th, 2016 -


A successful logo  is crafted to capture what your business stands for; it is the visual communication of your service and brand. Since the logo of a brand works as its identity, as a business evolves, so too should be how you present yourselves.

The Proof is in the Pudding

It is no coincidence that today’s biggest and most successful brands have gone through a whole sequence of logo edits during their exiistence.  The following investigation, and illustrated history of Starbucks, Apple and Google exemplifies how  industry top dogs have made substantial changes to their logos over the years. This reiterates the importance of refreshing your logo and branding along your business journey  so that you stay relevant, trendy and ensure that your logo continues to reflect your business status, ethos and values.


Since Starbucks began selling coffee beans in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971, they have become one of the most recognised brands in the world. With their status in the coffee world, they’ve faced immense pressure to have a logo accessible to a global consumer market, whilst staying true to their identity. Therefore, although their logo may have changed considerably over the decades, their branding has maintained a nautical theme , refelective of its namesake Starbuck, the first mate in Moby Dick.

An Illustrated History:


1) The original logo focused on the mermaid image which suited the shop’s coastal setting, and ensured its wording communicated that Starbucks sold more than coffee. The mythical mermiad/ siren image was intended to symbolise the attractive quality of the coffee.

il-giornale2) The original owners of Starbucks decided to sell and Schultz took the opportunity to take over. His  updated logo resembled the original Il Giornale logo with the choice of colours and circular design. “We dropped the tradition-bound brown, and changed the logo’s color to Il Giornarle’s more affirming green.”


3) Terry Heckler moved Starbucks towards the purely green colour scheme.  The mermaid stayed mostly the same, but rather than the whole mermaid being pictured,  the close up view displayed her from the navel upwards.



In 2008, Starbucks made the mistake of attempting to reimagine the original 1971 logo. The public had become so familiar with the green logo, cups, and branding, that this was move was doomed .



4) The current version of the Starbucks logo was unveiled in 2011, as part of the company’s 40th anniversary. The redesign enlarged the inner siren whilst removing the outer green circle that featured the “Starbucks Coffee” brand name. The controversial “wordless” logo :gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee but make no mistake … we will continue to be the world’s leading purveyor of the highest-quality coffee.”

Over the years, Starbucks has refreshed their logos and design without losing their identity.The green colour scheme, the Starbucks siren, and branding has contributed to them amassing to a multi-billion dollar empire, as its simplicity is easily recognizable and had become familiar. We wonder what the future holds for the logo.




“Like our products and our customers, the Apple brand continues to evolve”. Enough said really.

An Illustrated History:


1) The original logo, designed by Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne, featured Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. Many of you will be surprised that this logo existed, as is far away from the iconic apple shape of today.

2) The ‘rainbow apple’ created by Rob Janoff  was a bold change from the black and white original. The bite mark reflected Apple’s tagline at the time “Byte into an Apple” and to “prevent the apple from looking like a cherry tomato.” Michael M. Scott of Apple has called the logo “the most expensive bloody logo ever designed”.

3) The rainbow logo began to look dated and a simpler form was needed. The stark black look of 1998 exemplified the power of simplicity.

4) and 5) The apple logo has since been rolled out in a variety of sizes and colors. The black version of 1998 has been followed by more 3D versions, and even white and chrome versions.

Apple say: “We’ll continue to reflect who we are and what we stand for as a company in the same timeless symbol … We’ve taken the same standards of style and innovation that make our products and our design unmistakable and applied them to the company logo. Instead of rainbow stripes, solid colors. Instead of just one solid color, a palette of logo colors to suit a variety of uses”.

Perhaps this dedication to suiting a variety of uses and devices is why products released of late have returned to the flatness of the  1998 design rather than including the detail of the aqua or chrome logos, as this sleekness compliments their seamless product design.

It’s incredible how far Apple has come. Their branding has somehow kept up to date with, and continues to reflect, their frantic pace of innovation, proposing that their visual presentation plays as big a part in their success as their production of industry-shifting technology does.




The Google logo has always exuded confidence in simplicity; a quirky word in bold coloured lettering sat on a white background.  However, its branding journey shows that even the giants of business make mistakes before they get it right!

An Illustrated History:



1) In Google’s humble beginnings on the servers of Stanford University this gem of word art was created as their logo. With awkward spacing and perspective, it is safe to say that its reign didn’t last long.

2) Google decided to juggle the colours around in 1999. They also added an exclamation point (similar to that of Yahoo) which was mercifully short-lived!

3) Kedar landed on the deceptively simple winner “We ended up with the primary colours, but instead of having the pattern go in order, we put a secondary colour on the L, to reflect the idea that Google doesn’t follow the rules.” The shading added gave a sense that the letters lifted from the page, which Kedar considered to produce an “ethereal quality”.

4) A tweak to the shading of the logo made it appear flatter. This may not be that much of a change from the previous version, but given how wildly familiar the Google logo has become, any tweak at all was bound to be noticed.

5) Google finally gave in to the overwhelming demand for flatness. “we created a custom, geometric sans-serif typeface …We call it Product Sans.”

The newest version is an interactive logo with 3 elements:


Google- The sans serif logotype that retains the multi-colour letter sequence that the world has come to associate with the company

Dots- The logotype condensed to shape form

The G- A compact version of the Google logo, condensing the word to a single letter

Aside from these released logos, Google have come up with a lot of design concepts over the years that haven’t made it to our screens:



In honesty, it is relief that they opted for simplicity, and this has established a strong identity. Despite going through many overhauls, Google have impressively come to be a lead search engine. Their quirky name, and continued use of colour scheme has resulted in these four colours being associated with the company globally.



Yeah, we thought so!

The investigtaion of the evolution of the Starbucks, Apple, and Google logos exemplify how well crafted redisign  can ensure a company’s logo successfully represents a brand, and stays relevant to their audience and product. A logo should reflect a company’s evolution, so don’t be afriad of redesign as it can be a sign of progression.

Foundry enjoy improving and redesigning client’s branding, so feel free to contact us about how we can help your business evolve!


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