There are some logos that, somehow, we all know. Those that we recognize in a millisecond, and spot all around us, seemingly every day. These are the most famous logos, and the most effective, from around the world.
What we may not know about these logos is how they became worldwide famous. And, although, you may know these logos, you may have overlooked the most important question – what can we learn from them? What do they tell us about logo design? And how can we apply this to our own logos?
The Apple logo is, undoubtedly, one of the most recognizable around the world. But what inspired the logo?
While some cite the tale of Adam and Eve, or the story of Isaac Newton as the inspiration, others believe the logo was to honor the creator of the base of the modern computer, Alan Turing, who killed himself by biting into an apple laced with cyanide.
We don’t know if any of these are true. However, the designer behind the logo, Rob Janoff, did explain that the bite in the apple came from a fear that the logo would look like a cherry when made smaller.
What to learn from it? Your logo may take on meaning beyond what you had imagined – allow it to do so. This speculation can add meaning to your brand, and make people more curious regarding what you do, and why. Thrive in this speculation.
You may have heard the story behind the creation of the famous Nike swoosh before. The one where a graphic design student seeking some extra money takes on a project, for only $35, to develop a new logo for a shoe brand called Nike. The logo goes on to become a worldwide success.
Eventually, the designer, Carolyn Davidson, received a large sum of stock in the company, as well as a diamond and gold ring as a thank you for her contribution to the brand. So, what can we take away from this tale? A logo does not necessarily have to cost millions to be effective. Actually, something simple can easily do the trick, with the right support for the design. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to spend millions to get the right logo.
It was 1887 when the Coca Cola logo was developed, courtesy of Frank Robinson. The first version of the logo is not far off from the one we know today. In effect, their timeless logo has carried them throughout a century and then some.
The only time Coca Cola tried to rebrand dramatically was in 1985, when Pepsi became a fearful competitor. Customers became unhappy with the new look. Many even decided to boycott the brand until it reverted back to the original look, which eventually they did.
There’s two key things to be learned from the famous logo. For starters, creating a timeless logo from the very beginning is an enormous advantage, since it’s unlikely it will go out of style, or lose relevance. Secondly, don’t fix a logo if it’s not broken. Understand what your customers feel about the look, and use this to decide whether it’s time for a change or not. Do not change just for the sake of changing.
McDonalds is the biggest fast food restaurant in the world. A large part of this is attributed to powerful branding, including an effective logo. The golden arches of the McDonalds logo have become a worldwide recognizable symbol. It’s memorable, and simple.
So, what to learn from it? A simple and powerful symbol is key in ensuring you’re remembered. Look for a design that can work in different contexts, and cultures. One that is difficult to forget, and that is easily associated with the brand. If you’ve done this, you’ve got a winning logo.
In 1997, when Google began developing their logo, they had one thing in mind: represent the innovative and creative nature of the brand. They wanted people to understand that they were the company that threw the rules out the window. To represent this, they created a logo that used all the primary colors in a pattern, with a secondary color breaking the norm on the “L.” This signified that they were out of the box in a subtle and fun way.
Over the years, the font has changed, as has the lighting of the colors. However, the original concept remains the focus of the look.
So, what should we take away from the tale of the Google logo? If you have a strong concept, that exemplifies your brand – stick with it. But allow the logo to modernize around this concept, allow the look to grow and evolve.
The Adidas logo was born amidst controversy between two brothers, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, the creators of Adidas and Puma respectively.
The Adidas logo went through a lot of changes through the years. Every one of these changes came from a need to innovate, and get the upper hand over Puma. It started with an illustration heavy logo that introduced the idea of the Adidas lines, went on to the trefoil with the lines incorporated, and finally to the modern day logo. In spite of these changes, the three Adidas lines were always an identifiable staple.
So, the lesson is clear: allow competition to force you to innovate, but maintain your overall identity across the logo evolutions.
The Pepsi globe has gone through a lot of considerable changes since it first showed up on the scene, in the 1940s.
Each variation has come with intense symbolism behind it. At times, the logo was meant to represent the Earth, Pythagoras, the human body, and so on. In spite of this, it’s a fairly simple look.
What should you learn? You can always consider having the logo represent something philosophical or abstract. In effect, your logo should send a message. But, ensure that the design is never overly complicated, and that this symbolism doesn’t take over the final look.
If you’re in the mood for a coffee, surely stopping by a local Starbucks crosses your mind.
The Starbucks logo has evolved from a more distant view of the siren on a brown background to the current siren with a green circular background.
The logo, arguably, became successful due to its intelligent use by the brand. The logo has been splattered everywhere, increasing how recognizable it has become. So, what can you learn from it? Use your logo wisely to increase how recognizable it becomes. Market your logo adequately to ensure people recognize it.
The FedEx logo has gained great popularity, not only for being eye-catching and memorable, but for including a clever hidden symbol that distinguishes it from many other designs. Between the “E” and the “x” is an arrow, alluding to the idea that the service is fast and reliable.
This subliminal symbol is an intelligent decision on behalf of the designer and FedEx, and has put the logo among some of the most well thought-out designs.
The lesson? Don’t be afraid to be creative with your logo, and to include some clever messages. But don’t go overboard or be obnoxious with the symbolism.
British Broadcasting Corporation
The famous blocks of the BBC were updated over the years. The latest update came from the need to make the logo effective on different platforms. For this reason, Martin Lambie-Nairn, the designer, developed the identifiable three blocks. The design was meant to be flexible, to be modified to a multitude of variations, so it would work for all sub-channels and services without losing the coherent identity.
The BBC logo has now been used for over 20 years, and is recognizable all around the world. What can we learn from this? Developing a flexible and adaptable logo, that works on all platforms, is an intelligent and wise decision. It allows for a logo to last for an extensive period of time, and to be effective no matter the context.
Learning from the Famous Logos
These famous logos have become worldwide symbols, well-known and understood. And, clearly, there is a lot to be learned from their success – to help develop other outstanding designs, that make an impact.
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