Led the Creation of
the Original Third Place

Source: Starbucks

Starbucks 360° Brand Development


Starbucks’ VP of Architecture and Design knew that his stores were in imminent danger of becoming generic. Customers needed to have a fully branded experience in order to be engaged by Starbucks’ coffee stores—a world of premium, distinctive coffees embodied in one place. Otherwise, customers might as well buy their coffee at the corner convenience store. It was Starbucks’ management’s objective to make Starbucks a memorable and connecting brand experience for coffee lovers—so they would make Starbucks their chosen, ultimate destination for great coffee.


Starbucks lacked the right retail brand platform and environment to create a premium “coffee culture”. In order to become relevant to coffee aficionados, the Starbucks brand would have to embody the culture, magic, romance and cult surrounding the exotic offerings in its shops. Those shops, too, would have to be inviting, warm environments where human beings would want to come and linger for a while, enjoying their coffee with a newspaper, getting on their lap tops or experiencing the camaraderie of visiting with their friend.


Give Starbucks a new culture, centered on the “Siren”—an alluring, fluid and human figure that gave rise to a unique iconography signifying the natural elements involved in the roasting, brewing and aroma of great coffee. Earth grows the coffee beans, fire roasts them, water brews them, and the air carries their aroma. These icons are deeply rooted in human consciousness and artistically depict modern representations of music, mythology and ceremony; the sea, navigation, the sun, the moon and the stars. Customers connected to these images in a profound way.

Extend the new brand platform for Starbucks to include positioning language, giving voice to its visual brand communications. A packaging system for the coffees sold in the stores was developed, connecting each to its cultural roots. Each coffee bag is unique and its packaging and distinctive coffee stamps tell the story of each brew. When customers purchase Starbucks coffee and take it home, they bring the Starbucks culture right into their homes. Starbucks becomes part of their lifestyles.



  • Creation of the US coffee culture and industry.
  • Increased brand valuation by millions.
  • Helped Starbucks enter into the grocery space.

Scope of Work

  • Branding Platform
  • Identity Toolbox
  • Signage + Fixturing
  • Packaging Systems
  • POS Strategy
  • Environmental Graphics Program
  • Brand Bible

“Successfully positioning and building equity in a premium product line takes great business acumen. Lemley Design’s blend of business strategy and design vision enabled Starbucks to create ‘The Third Place’. . . a warm, inviting not home, not work environmentwhere our unique coffee culture could flourish.”

– Wright Massey, Former VP of Architecture and Design, Starbucks

We helped Starbucks become globally dominant by creating a third place. What’s your brand’s growth challenge?

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