Starbucks is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, but according to co-founder Gordon Bowker it was almost called something very different.
The Seattle coffee company’s green mermaid logo is reconised by people all over the world and with 24,000 shops in 70 countries, it’s almost impossible to stay away from the nine letter sign.
But we could have known it by a very different name according to Bowker, who told the Seattle Times this week that it was almost called – Cargo House.
Explaining that they went through many names before settling on Starbucks back in the seventies when they set up the first coffee house, he said: “We were thinking of all kinds of names and came desperately close to calling it Cargo House, which would have been a terrible, terrible mistake.”
Luckily, they decided not to go with Cargo House and instead kept brainstorming.
Bower’s partner Terry Kechler was the genius who came up with the catchy name after deciding words that begin with “st” are the most powerful.
But where did Starbucks come from? According to Bowker, they found the inspiration on an old mining map.
“Somebody somehow came up with an old mining map of the Cascades and Mount Rainier, and there was an old mining town called Starbo,” he explained.
“As soon as I saw Starbo, I, of course, jumped to Melville’s first mate in Moby-Dick. But Moby-Dick didn’t have anything to do with Starbucks directly; it was only coincidental that the sound seemed to make sense,” he said.
As well as the name, Starbucks is recognizable from it’s mermaid logo. In 2006 spokesperson Valerie O’Neil revealed that officially the logo is of a “twin-tailed mermaid, or siren as she’s known in Greek mythology”. Even she has gone under a few chances over the years, with the first logo was brown and featured a topless mermaid and had a fully visible double fish tail.
Starbucks first opened in 1971 in downtown Seattle in Washington. Expanding over the coming decades it’s now worth nearly $6 billion and employs over 238,000 people worldwide.
Would Cargo House have been so successful?