December 20, 2016 Community

Meet Brian the Snowman and other Starbucks Card Characters

In November 2001, Starbucks® stores in the U.S. first stocked what would soon become one of the holiday season’s most popular gifts.

It was the debut of the Starbucks Card, featuring a design with snowflakes falling against a silver sky.

In the 15 years since, Starbucks gift cards have featured 500 illustrations created by Starbucks in-house design team. Each card is a work of art – ranging from graphic vector art to delicate watercolor paintings.

“Some cards are graphic, while others more painterly,” said Jon Cannell, who manages card designs for Starbucks. “Each card is unique and we try to make them different every year for customers who love to collect them.”

Other cards feature characters that have even become an annual holiday tradition, like Brian the snowman and his bird sidekick, Louie. 

Brian first made his Starbucks Card debut in 2010, holding a cup of coffee in a field of white with a few other snow-friends, and quickly became a customer favorite. He returned each year, sporting a carrot nose, a cozy scarf and a smile. In 2013 he was joined by a happy red bird making snow angels, dubbed Louie in honor of the St. Louis Cardinals. The two have been a pair ever since.

“Each year we approach him in a new way,” Cannell said. “Sometimes we zoom out and have him as part of an environment. Or we may vary the medium, whether it’s watercolor or acrylic. At times he has been vector-created on the computer, and now he’s more of a hand-done with the evolution of our brand expression.”


Other perennial favorites include a holiday tree, which was first tied onto the top of a car in 2005’s holiday card, and Jerry the Gingerbread man, now back for his second straight year.

“While we may vary our treatment from year to year, we don’t stray too far,” Cannell said. “They have become familiar and beloved.”

Create Your Own Starbucks Cards

This year, customers have a chance to create their own Starbucks Card designs to share with Create Your Own Starbucks Cards. This three-card pack comes with a black marker to inspire creativity. $10 minimum load per card. Available only in select stores.

Starbucks Greeting Card/Gift Card Set

Starbucks makes gift-giving easy with a Starbucks Card loaded with $25 with a matching complimentary greeting card. Local cards are available regionally, and a variety of holiday designs are offered in participating Starbucks locations.

Give a Gift by Email

A Starbucks eGift Card is an easy way to brighten someone's day. Choose any amount between $5-$100, choose an eGift design, add a personal message, enter an email address and hit send.

Where to Find Starbucks Cards

Starbucks Cards can be purchased in stores or online. Starbucks Cards are also available in more than 100,000 locations outside Starbucks stores, including grocery stores and other retailers.

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom