The Starbucks logo is one of the most iconic of our time and culture. You can see it everywhere. This logo, as it exists today however, is not the logo that once was. When Starbucks was first established in 1971, their original logo was brown in color, and depicted a two-tailed, bare-breasted siren encircled by the company’s name. The message of this logo was that the coffee of Starbucks was as seductive as the sirens that tempted the sailors of ancient mythology. The more modern looking siren, encircled in a green circle, was created in 1987 as a result of Starbucks’ merger with the coffee company, Il Giornale.
Yet, this logo is not the one you see today. In 2011, in celebration of the company’s 40th anniversary, Starbucks decided to change their logo yet again. The logo of today has one major difference to the one developed in 1987.
They dropped the border of the green circle!
This may not seem very significant, yet the removal of this border speaks profoundly to the ethos which governs the company. The borderless circle represents the notion that Starbucks is a future-engaging and forward-looking company. It conveys the attitude that Starbucks is not content to live out the endless repetition of tradition, but continually reaches outside of itself to embrace new opportunities with flexibility and creativity. The borderless logo says that Starbucks is no longer ‘just a destination’ but is in fact a way of interacting with the world.
You didn’t think a green border could mean so much did you?
Starbucks dropped the green border as way to interact with the ever-shifting culture. What once began as an attempt to carve out ‘a third place’ – a destination dedicated to interpersonal connection and personal enrichment – has now morphed into a place of fluid involvement and interaction. A borderless logo speaks to the availability of the Starbucks experience to all, and the ability to take that experience with you into your everyday life.
For me, this prompts a question about how the Church engages in our contemporary culture. How do we as the Church communicate that we embrace our future with flexibility and creativity? How do we reach outside ourselves to embrace new opportunities for worship and ministry? Starbucks has been able to accommodate their practices and style to the present culture that surrounds them. Whether you like Starbucks are not, this has proven successful for the company. The question for us is: Have we done the same? Have we jettisoned out-of-date practices and rituals that no longer speak to a current generation, or do we blindly continue in the same manner as we always have, yet wonder why our numbers keep going down?
For example: in today’s culture, with more and more people having little or no liturgical background, why continue using the phrases of ‘Collect of the Day’, or even ‘Processional/Recessional hymn’? I remember being in one church that announced the ‘Processional Hymn’ at the start of the service, only to find that no procession followed! Furthermore in an increasingly paperless world, why do we still base our membership numbers on those who subscribe to ‘envelopes’?
Obviously I am not arguing that we have to change our liturgical speak, or become so liturgically low that there is nothing distinctive about our community. The point is that these things – along with countless others – are all a matter of green borders. They do not reflect the fundamental nature of our identity and mission. Yet, the furious adherence to such traditions or practices restricts us from entering our future with creativity and boldness. It is great to have traditions, but when traditions become borders, and borders become barriers, then we become unable to live out the fundamental nature of our mission in the world around us.
So, perhaps it’s time we start asking ourselves what the borders are in our community. What are the things that we are called to give up for the sake of authentically connecting to those who are around us? These changes don’t have to be big ones. After all, dropping the green border from the Starbucks logo isn’t exactly earth shattering. And neither is it for us. This is not about a drastic denial of our history or story. In fact, it may just be the way that we authentically live out our Anglican identity in this world, and attract others into it.
What are the borders in your community that you would like to be addressed?