The best simple logos of all time
A great logo design, as any visual identity specialist will tell you, is just a small part of the branding package. Yet for the rest of us, those outside of the veiled and mystical brand consulting industry, logos are what we hold on to. That is why we created this article and we talked about the best logos of all time.
We take the meaning of these brands subliminally. We also worry. The public often responds loudly and fiercely to the introduction of a new logo – the logo that Zara revealed earlier this year is a good example.
And why not? Michael Wolff, co-founder of the brand agency Wolff Olins, has argued that a brand belongs to its clients. They define it, because they are the ones who buy their products or use their services. Not surprisingly, then, logos are discussed far beyond the showrooms of global brand agencies in Manhattan or Shoreditch.
Even if you only have a passing interest in graphic design, it’s fascinating to see what the BP logo looked like in 1930, or to debate how Coca-Cola’s identity has (or hasn’t) evolved over the last 125 years. If that’s your thing, then you’ll love our list of the 10 best logos ever …
What are the best logos in the world?
10. I love New York
The I Love New York logo seems ubiquitous and timeless today, but it was designed by Milton Glaser in 1977 for the New York State Department of Commerce in an inspirational moment during a taxi ride through his beloved city. So universal is the design that ‘by heart’ has now become a verb, colloquially speaking.
Here, the legendary designer discusses his love for his hometown, as well as his body of work and the role that technology plays in his design practice …
How important is New York City to your work?
“I have thought about it many times and I cannot imagine a life outside the city. For me, I would have found another way to be in the world and get the job done, I’m sure. All I know is the nature of this city: its complexity, its diversity, that it offers so many opportunities to learn and the fact that it is so contradictory. New York is not the most beautiful of cities. It changes all the time. It is not a city that imposes its vision on the people who enter; they impose their vision here.
“Everything is open, everything is at stake, everything must be questioned. That aspect of not accepting anything as the ultimate or the ultimate truth strikes me as a source of great vitality, energy, and options for people. Anything can happen here ”. And that, of course, creates a very different environment from a culture where very little can happen. “
Is there enough understanding of the past these days?
“Well, the field [of design] itself is dominated by fashion and the idea of selling things, so you have to worry about what is currently being done, and the economy is based on the idea of change and new. styles, and in this year Unfortunately, that’s not the real basis for serious work. “
“If you’re serious about it, you have to be more concerned with durability and ideas that go beyond the moment, so I think the best designers are always the designers who have had the broader look and don’t change their minds. The prevailing wind. If you find that all you are doing is copying what is already being done, you will have no position on the field. It will have nothing to offer and, after 20 years of doing it, it will be nowhere. “
What is your relationship with digital technology?
“I have a ‘long distance’ relationship with him, but I’m also angry about what you can do with a computer. I love working with other people on the computer, it’s like dancing. It’s a collaborative way of working that has never been done before. “
But you have to come to it with a sense of the existing form. If you don’t have a form and an understanding of visual phenomena, and you don’t understand how to draw, from my point of view, it is a very naughty instrument because it forces you to make patterns that it imposes. “
The roadmap for IBM’s spirit of modern design was established in the 1950s with the hiring of design consultant Eliot Noyes, who had worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He brought influences such as Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Isamu Noguchi to influence the company’s industrial design, and hired Paul Rand to create IBM’s visual identity in 1956. This move was repeated with the update in 1972.
Discover the evolution of the IBM logo below:
Willard R Bundy was an inventor of time recording devices. Established in Auburn, New York, his firm became the International Time Recording Company and used this logo in 1888. It would later merge with another constituent of present-day IBM.
08. London Underground
Although it is difficult to imagine a simpler logo than the white type against a blue bar, all of them running on a red circle with thick strokes, the London Underground logo is one of the most recognizable in the world. The brand of buses, stations and subways in the capital of England, has become an enduring symbol of the city that created it, and has been in development for more than a hundred years.
Here we take you through the changing face of the London Underground logo:
The London General Bus Company’s bar and circle insignia identified its newly motorized buses, as well as its employees. It is possible that this design reported the earliest Underground signs, showing the names of the platforms in white text on a blue enamel bar over a full red disc.
A year after the last of the steam-powered locomotives was replaced with electric-powered trains in the Underground, these red, full-disc roundels sprung up. With the arresting simplicity of a stop sign, they were the first station identifiers and had to battle for commuters’ attention with the clutter of advertising that was present even at the turn of the century.
At some point around 1908, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London attempted to use another logo acquired from a public competition. It was an inflexible, complex design in comparison with the simplicity of the adaptable roundel.
Edward Johnston created a standard form of the roundel from 1916-19, insisting on a rigid proportional grid so that whatever its future use, the symbol would retain its essential imagery. “The addition of white semicircles or ‘counters’ to the symbol was a brilliant move,” says A Logo for London author David Lawrence. “It set the symbol apart from other trademarks of the early modern period, and has maintained its distinctive form ever since.”
Using ‘the Johnston’ as a template, this 1934 version of the logo with larger first and last letter capitals was widely used for the next 10 years on paraphernalia such as maps, annual reviews and in the architecture of Charles Holden’s Underground entrances – like you can see at St. Paul’s station.
After 1945, the change in taste in graphic design saw a simplification of the roundel. Key letters and eventually the first and last capital letters were removed. These binder maps for the trail, bus, tram and trolley bus networks show the range of “portholes” in use from 1948-1957.
In his book, A Logo for London, David Lawrence traces the history of London’s most enduring sign, trying to pin down the enduring appeal of the logo. “The logo is abstract enough and yet so widely reproduced that it represents many things to many people: city, transport, culture, place, a unified system, an attractive design. This is what makes it a flexible and durable brand, ”he says. It has never gone out of style, he adds, “because in the worst case it sits tirelessly in the background and tells us where to catch a bus or train.”
07. the red cross
The red cross emblem is an incredibly inexpensive symbol, but one that offers its meaning, of neutrality and protection, in the most effective way.
It’s a simple brand, but one that gets your message across right away. Without an exact specification of red, and the only guidelines that the cross should always have arms of equal length and be displayed on a white background, the red cross emblem is easily displayed in places where the materials to create a perfect design can not be available.
The red cross, and indeed the red crescent (first used by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire in 1876 because the red cross reminded them of the Crusaders of the Middle Ages) is a sign of neutrality and protection in armed conflict. Its use is restricted by international and national laws.
Both emblems have the same meaning and status, and have no political or religious significance. The use restriction is important here: the red cross emblem must be relied upon to signify this neutrality and protection, and therefore unauthorized use is prohibited in international, humanitarian and national law.
One of the most recognized brands in the US retail sector, Target now has more than 1,800 stores in the US alone. Its brand was envisioned in the conception of the brand itself and symbolizes the company’s goal to achieve the perfect in-store customer experience.
In the months leading up to the opening of the first Target store, advertising director Stewart K Widdess was tasked with naming and rating the new retail store. Legend has it that Widdess and her staff debated over 200 possible names.
In a moment of inspiration, both the Target name and the now-familiar porthole were conceived (albeit in a slightly different form). The reasoning? Just as a shooter’s goal is to get to the center of the bullseye, the new store would do the same in terms of retail goods, services, community commitment, price, value, and overall experience.
The current version of the logo was designed in 1968, eliminating a series of inner rings to simplify the design and making it a more direct and recognizable symbol for the company.
Apple’s initial logo was a 1976 drawing of Isaac Newton by Ron Wayne. Steve Jobs knew it would never function as a brand and commissioned a new brand from him the following year. Since then, the apple shape has remained the same, aside from some geometric tweaks for the 1998 update, and the move from colored stripes to a solid silhouette. The Rob Janoff logo has remained an important element in Apple’s global success story since its inception.
In pictures – how the Apple logo was developed:
The first Apple logo was designed by employee Ron Wayne. It represents Sir Isaac Newton seated under an apple tree. You are about to formulate the Universal Laws of Gravitation. Steve Jobs realized that the illustration seems too complex for almost any application and did not reproduce well in computer cases. Can you imagine it on your phone?
The 2007 version of the logo is called Chrome and has different reflective qualities, which appear to be made of glass. It was later replaced by a flat Chrome silhouette, usually in silver or black, which is now widely used on hardware such as iPhones, iPads, and iMacs.
We spoke to graphic designer Rob Janoff, the man turned in the job of designing a logo for a company called Apple Computer …
What was your original report and what did Apple want the logo to convey?
“I didn’t have much of a brief, when I thought about it. It was a few words from Steve Jobs, which were: ‘Don’t make it cute.’ I think he was referring mainly to the typography. “
“Don’t make it cute” Steve Jobs
How did you come up with the idea of an apple with a bite taken out of it?
“When you take a bite out of an apple, it stays in a bite shape, it doesn’t collapse like a peach would. It was to make it look more like an apple and to give it scale, because people’s mouths are a certain size and an apple is a certain size, and the bite would be a size repeater. “
How many versions did you submit?
“I’ve never done this before or ever again, but I was so sure of this design that there was only one version. However, we had a back pocket, which was the apple without the bite, in case I thought it was a little too cute. That was never shown. “
One of the most recognizable logos in the world does not belong to a trademark, but who designed it?
Formed from five black bands that intersect to form a traditional skein of wool, the Woolmark logo is smooth, elegant and organic. It is perfectly suitable for its purpose – to represent the use of pure wool in a product. The logo is officially credited to Francesco Saroglia, as the winner of a design contest. However, nothing else is known about Saroglia, and Italian designer Franco Grignani is believed to have been responsible for the logo.
This indicates that the product comprises 50 to 99 percent pure wool mixed with other materials, indicated by the white stripes.
This indicates that the product contains 30-49 percent pure wool. Here, the white areas indicating other materials are much larger.
Aimed primarily at the emerging Chinese market, the Gold logo indicates that the clothing is made from extremely high grade Merino wool fibers that have been spun by a reputable weaver.
A quality brand
Simplicity is often the key quality of a perfect logo. So what could be more representative of a brand that means that a garment is made of pure wool than an elegantly drawn skein of wool? The logo is elegant and instantly recognizable without being overly detailed.
“PEOPLE ASSOCIATE IT WITH THE PRODUCT THEY SEE: WOOL”
Rob Langtry, Woolmark
Because it is instantly recognizable, the brand also talks about the qualities of wool. “In an age where we’ve moved too quickly to synthetic fibers and disposability, there is something reassuring and positive about a brand that represents a natural and renewable resource,” said Rob Langtry, director of global marketing and strategy, Woolmark.
Checking all for $ 35
The Nike emblem is one of the most recognizable in the world, and the simplest ideas are often the best, as evidenced by this brand created by Portland student Carolyn Davidson in 1971. He paid $ 35 for the logo at the time. Later, in 1983, he received a gold Swoosh ring encrusted with a diamond and an envelope with the role of Nike from founder Phillip Knight. It is perhaps one of the most interesting, and most widely reported, stories in the history of logo design.
Davidson’s tick-shaped logo was seen as a symbol of positivity, but it is actually the wing profile of the goddess Nike (who personified victory). Its logo was subsequently registered as a trademark and, aside from some touch-ups with the Nike lettering, it has remained unchanged.
According to the Nike website, on first seeing Davidson’s design, Knight said, “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.” In 2011, Davidson told OregonLive.com that it was a challenge to create a logo that conveyed movement and that Phillip Knight was very impressed with the trends of rival company Adidas, making it increasingly difficult to find something original.
It was the French designer, Raymond Loewy, who drew the first modern Shell logo. It simplified the logo to make it more recognizable and bold from a distance – essential when your logo is primarily placed on the side of a highway with speeding traffic. It gave the lettering and the red edge of the shell itself added impact.
See the gallery below to see the changing faces of the iconic Shell logo:
The word Shell first appeared in 1891 as the trademark for kerosene that Marcus Samuel and Company shipped to the Far East. The Shell Transport and Trading Company was founded in 1897 and the first logo in 1901 was a mussel shell. Since its first appearance, the Shell logo has moved from a realistic representation of a pecten, or scallop shell, to today’s bold shape with distinctive colors.
Replacing the original Federal Express logo, which was designed in 1974, the new logo introduced a name change and a cleaner, simpler appearance. The color purple remained a brand color with the orange color added, and the FedEx logo thrives on the use of white space. It was applied to 600 aircraft, and 30,000 ground vehicles.
With that crafty little arrow nestled between the E and X, the FedEx logo perfectly embodies what the company does – moving letters, boxes and cargo from A to B. It has won more than 40 design awards, and although it was given released in 1994 is still a favorite.
We spoke with Lindon Leader, who was Senior Director of Design at Landor Associates when it was designed …
The FedEx logo was designed more than 20 years ago. What do you remember most about the project?
“I have always said that it takes a great client to do a great project. Frederick Smith, the CEO, allowed us to do our job, and he simply said, ‘Lindon, if you feel like our trucks need to be Pink and Green, just give me one good reason. In other words, he trusted us. “
“IF YOU FEEL LIKE OUR TRUCKS SHOULD BE PINK AND GREEN, JUST GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON.”
Frederick Smith, CEO of FedEx
What were the key things the client wanted the identity to communicate?
“The core attributes of the FedEx brand are precision, service, speed and reliability. They are the kind of attributes that he just doesn’t develop overnight, without a pun, given his original motto. “
How did you approach it?
“We conducted a nine-month global research study that revealed that customers were generally unaware of the global reach and full-service capabilities of Federal Express.”
“Customers came to say ‘FedEx a package’ even when they were using other senders. Therefore, the express shipping process became generic. We informed them that the company needed to leverage its most valuable asset, and that is the FedEx brand. “
“On an international scale, ‘federal’ had some negative connotations in certain parts of the world: the federalists in Latin America; the Federal Republic of Germany. That was one of the reasons that moving to the FedEx name was going to be so much more communicative for them. “
What were the other potential logos like?
“Each of the five candidates did what the current identity is doing. They maximized the impact of identity, while maximizing the color white. It’s in their envelopes, it’s in their vehicles, it’s in their planes because the target is traditionally associated with “Federal Express.”
Tell us about the use of white and your subtraction process?
“I can’t tell you how many times I get into a fight with a customer who says, ‘I’m paying a huge amount of money to pay for a magazine ad and they’re telling me they want 60 percent empty. space?’ On the one hand, I can understand where they come from. But basically the average customer doesn’t have a sophisticated enough appreciation for white space to understand that it can be a strategic marketing tool. “
For you, what makes a logo last, and when do you think a company should change its logo?
“From a historical perspective, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, a company would go to a design agency and seek, more often, to update an identity that had been around for quite some time. In those days, what a customer hoped to achieve was get 20 years of a logo before it needed to be updated or changed. “
“If you take the Silicon Valley company out of the equation, these days companies are looking to cool off for up to five, maybe 10 years, if you’re lucky.”