A brief history of well known logos

A brief history of well known logos

Well known logos are with us all the time and we take them for granted. Would it surprise you to learn that some of the most famous logos have a history behind them telling a story about how they have evolved over time? This blog is all about a brief history of well known logos.

Today I would like to share with you a brief history of well known logos with five examples from famous brands.

a brief history of well known logos amazon logo

A brief history of well known logos starting with the Amazon logo

  • The original logo was created in 1994.
  • The Amazon river image was incorporated into a blue emblem which was supplemented with a slogan: “Earth’s biggest bookstore”. 
  • The logo unfortunately looked like a piece of clip art rather than a corporate emblem as the river image could be used anywhere, it needed a lot of work to make it memorable.
  • In 1998 Amazon introduced a new logo which used a giant ring instead of the letter ‘O’ in the name which looked fresh but faceless. What did the ‘O’ represent? Was it a rising sun? or did it show the vast amount of goods that you could buy?
  • In early 2000 Amazon went back to a lowercase version because many people were misspelling the name, this is when they introduced the orange underline.
  • 2000 to early 2021 the orange underline had become a smile which connected the letters ‘a’ to ‘z’ – the message being that can you get everything you need from Amazon from a – z.
  • In 2002 the slogan ‘and you’re done.’ was added but removed in 2021 along with the .com paving the way to the logo we know today.
a brief history of well known logos apple logo

A brief history of well known logos – the Apple logo

  • The first logo was created by Ronald Wayne, one of the co-founders of Apple in the early days of 1976, who wanted to represent the law of gravity that is inspired by an apple.
  • Steve Jobs wanted the Apple name and logo to be fused as one and commissioned designer Rob Janoff to create the well known logo we see today.
  • Rob Janoff approached the logo design by buying some apples, putting them in a bowl and drawing them for a week to simplify the shape.
  • His original design featured a rainbow spectrum which was a nod to the Apple II which had a colour display.
  • The bite was added to the apple to show it represented an apple and not a cherry – it was also a play on words ‘bite/byte.’
  • After 22 years it was axed by Steve Jobs and replaced with a monochromatic version which saw a variety of sizes and colour over the years before taking on a metallic embossed look.
  • Today Apple use a flat minimal logo available in three colours; silver, white and black which is thought to have started the ‘flat’ logo craze.
evolution of the coca-cola logo

A brief history of the Coca-Cola logo

  • The Coca-Cola drink originated in 1886 by the Pharmacist Dr John Pemberton who chose a simple serif font for newspaper advertising.
  • The flowing curved script that we know today was designed by Pemberton’s bookkeeper Frank Mason Robinson who thought the two letter ‘C’s would work well in the typeface ‘Spencerian Script.’
  • Spencerian Script was developed in the mid 19th century as a form of formal handwriting in the USA and its use on the Coca-Cola logo was used in newspaper ads during 1886-1887.
  • At this time the logo contained no registration symbol because the Coca-Cola company hadn’t been registered at the Patent Office.
  • It wasn’t until 1893 that the company was granted its first trademark and the word ‘TRADEMARK’ was added to the tail curl of the letter ‘C’.
  • During 1903 the words ‘TRADEMARK REGISTERED’ was added to the curl of the letter ‘C’ due to a change in law requiring companies to re-register their trademarks.
  • In the early days advertising materials were hand painted so the red and white was retained to attract younger customers.
original sketch of the nike logo

A brief history of the Nike logo

  • Did you know that Nike’s “swoosh” originated as a $35 design?
  • In 1971 graphic design student Carolyn Davidson didn’t have enough money to take her class and was approached by Phil Knight to work freelance for his company Blue Ribbon Sports who was launching a new football shoe called ‘The Nike’.
  • Carolyn spent more than 17 hours crafting a design by sketching on tissue paper and overlaying the tissue paper onto a shoe drawing.
  • Carolyn wanted to show speed and motion but at the same time, look clean and classic on a shoe.
  • Initially Knight didn’t like the ‘swoosh’ design but he decided to go with it anyway.
  • Until 1995 the word ‘Nike’ used the sans serif font Futura Bold which was intended to imply forwardness and efficiency.
  • After 1995 Nike removed the name as the brand was established and Carolyn’s swoosh is now the brand’s key identifier.
  • Carolyn was paid $35 which works out to $2 per hour but she did also get a diamond ring and an envelope containing 500 shares of Nike stock.
evolution of the shell logo from 1900 to 1999

A brief history of the of the Shell logo

  • The Shell name first appeared in 1891 as the trademark for kerosene shipped to the far east by Marcus Samuel & Co.
  • Originally Marcus Samuel & Co. traded in seashells and antiques.
  • The first Shell logo was a mussel shell which was changed to a scallop or Pecten shell in 1904.
  • After a merger with the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, becoming the Royal Dutch Shell Group in 1907, Shell was chosen to be the brand name with the Pecten as its symbol.
  • The shape of the Pecten has changed gradually over the years and colour was added in 1915.
  • In the forties, the brand name started consistently showing up inside the Shell symbol, while during the mid-fifties began a start of significant simplification, which reached its peak in 1971.
  • The 1971 logo was designed by Raymond Loewy and his shell symbol is still in use today. The logo changed in 1995, and the colour scheme now used a brighter red and a warmer yellow, but the shape stayed the same. Even without the brand name, it is one of the best-recognised logos in the world.

That was a brief history of well known logos. How many other logos can you think of that have changed over time? Comment below.