November 8, 2015 Community

The Story Behind the Design of Starbucks Red Holiday Cups

When red Starbucks cups return, it’s a signal that the holiday season is drawing near.

This year’s iconic red Starbucks cup features a two-toned ombré design, with a bright poppy color on top that shades into a darker cranberry below.

“We have anchored the design with the classic Starbucks holiday red that is bright and exciting,” said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of Design & Content. “The ombré creates a distinctive dimension, fluidity and weightedness.”

Since 1997 Starbucks has served its holiday beverages in a unique cup, starting with a jazz-themed design in jewel tones of deeper reds, greens and blues. Every year since, the cup has told a story of the holidays by featuring symbols of the season from vintage ornaments and hand-drawn reindeer to modern vector-illustrated characters. 

Taking a cue from customers who have been doodling designs on cups for years (Starbucks held a contest to support this creativity), this year’s design is another way Starbucks is inviting customers to create their own stories with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas.  

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Fields. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

In the nearly two decades since the first red Starbucks cup, the company has grown from 1,400 stores in a handful of countries to more than 23,000 stores in 68 markets around the world.

“Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays,” he said. “We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s more open way to usher in the holiday.”

Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season. Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.


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