Semiotic means the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. It has been used in branding as it is a powerful way to deliver a message. In this week’s class, we were asked to pick one brand to analyse the way it uses semiotic.


Case study: Starbucks

Starbucks is a coffee store chain with a total of more than 20 thousand stores. (Starbucks, 2014)Starbucks uses quite a few unusual ways to promote their products, such as purposely misspell customers’ names in order to get people to notice and mention it on social media platforms.(Wilkinson, 2016) I was curious about how the mermaid logo could relate to coffee and what the story behind is. According to the official website, the first Starbucks opened in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market in 1971, but it does not explain the whole story of why such symbol for their logo was chosen. (Starbucks, 2017)


There are many discussions around this topic, one I feel most convincing is that the name came from Starbuck Island, and the naked mermaid on the logo, a seductive mystery, was chosen to express their business goal: to lust all the coffee lovers. (Quora, 2017)


It is interesting to read all the stories behind Starbucks logo and think about how a Greek Mythology figure somehow becomes an iconic symbol of coffee stores. It taught me that a brand is not just a simple visual representation of their products, the stories, cultures, and discussions around it are also important.


Quora (2017) What is the meaning and story behind the Starbucks logo? Available at: (Accessed: 12/03/2017)

Wilkinson, J. (2016) Do Starbucks workers spell your name wrong ON PURPOSE so you will share pictures of your cup on social media? Available at: (Accessed: 12/03/2017)

Starbucks (2017) Our Heritage. Available at: (Accessed: 12/03/2017)

Starbucks (2014) Starbucks Company Profile. Available at: (Accessed: 12/03/2017)