What is a logo?
A logo is often defined as a recognisable and distinctive, graphic, emblem or unique symbol that identifies your company to the general public and
your specific target market. It is included throughout all communications, paperwork, marketing materials etc. They can include just a graphic, just a name or both.
Logos have often been dictated by the technologies available to create them, for example, when the only method of creating a text based logo was using hot metal typesetting, the designs were very limited. The spurs on logo evolution, as these technologies develop and creating higher quality designs that are easier to mass produce, the logo often adapts to suit.
Here we have 19 of the world’s most famous logos through the years, showing how they have changed and adapted to technological, design and social trends and changes:
Pepsi was introduced to the world in 1893 with a logo that was written in a red script font on a plain white background. This has changed over the years, first becoming more detailed and elaborate, sticking with the red and white, until they added the blue to the logo in 1950. From the 1960s they continued to make the logo bolder with black text , using the shape of a bottle top. Their current logo incorporates a simpler version of the bottle top with simple curved white text on a blue background.
Starting out around 1900, Shell has grown into the worlds largest corporation as of 2016. Their first logo was a literal inked clamshell in black and white (which was extremely easy to reproduce). From this, the logo stayed black and white, although the design changed slightly, up until 1948. In 1948 they introduced their first colour logo of red and yellow, keeping the same graphic and adding their name to the logo. This gradually became a more simplistic design from 1971 to today to create the 2d flat logo we know now.
IBM is the result of two companies merging, (International Time Recording Company and Computing Scale Company) this created their first logo in 1888 which combined the letters I, T, R, C. This became more elaborate through the font used up until 1924, at which point a name change meant the logo replicated the world with the name, ‘Business International Business Machines’. In 1947 this changed again to simply become plain outline of the IBM letters. This evolved in 1971 into the blue horizontal striped logo we know today.
Mercedes introduced their cars to the world in 1902 with a simple text logo in an oval shape. In 1909 this changed to become the familiar 3 point start. Mercedes played around with the inclusion of the oval and circular shape around the star and their name from 1909 to today, making only slight changes to the colours used.
Volkswagen first introduced themselves in 1930 with a black and white logo that used the classic VW combination surrounded by a more detailed design. This was simplified in 1939, and simplified again in 1967 when they first introduced the blue to their logo. In 1978, they switched from blue on a white background to white on a blue background which has evolved into the logo we know today.
Renaults logo was initially an emblem with the founders initials on in 1900 with an elaborate design, typical of the styles at the time. This became a more literal logo as they changed it completely to an encircled car in 1906. In 1919 this was changed again to an encircled tank. It wasn’t until 1926 that the classic diamond shape was introduced with the name of the company through the middle. In 1946 they introduced yellow to an otherwise black and white logo. This was changed a number of times, both including then excluding the colour and text, until they created the logo we know which was created in 2007.
Founded in 1899, Fiat have changed their logo dramatically, starting out with a brown parchment that included details of their company. In 1901, they introduced their first logo which was the Fiat name on a blue background with an elaborate surrounding design. From then, the outer shape changed, and the blue was swapped for red in 1921. in 1931, the logo became square until 1999 when the blue was reintroduced. In 2006 this was changed back to red and resembles the logo we know today. One element of their logo has been the same throughout which is the unique shape of the letter ‘A’.
Founded in 1976, the first apple logo featured an illustrated black and white scene of Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity under an apple tree. In 1976, this was changed to the recognised, simplistic apple shaped with rainbow horizontal stripes. This was further simplified to a black 2d apple shape, then becoming the iconic monochrome apple in 2000.
Founded in 1964, Nike didn’t introduce a logo until 1971 which featured the infamous ‘tick’ shape through a lower-case, curvy font stating the name of the company. This was rearranged and changed to upper-case in 1978. In 1985, Nike changed their blue and white logo to red on white, finally changing this again in 1995 to the simple ‘swoosh’ using white on a black background.
Coca Cola is a recognised brand, famous for its logo design, however when the company first started in 1886, the logo was a simple, upper-case black and white font. From the early 1900s they introduced the now synonymous Script font, still in black and white. The red and white wasn’t introduced until the 1950s. In the 1990s the logo saw its biggest change in years with the introduction of the bottle of coke in the logo, this was removed in the early 2000s to become the logo we now know.
Lego first became available to buy in 1949 which a simple black logo with a standardised font. In 1946, they first introduced red and yellow to their design. In 1955, the font was changed to become a less formal, circular based font, similar to the one used today. Between 1955 and now, the design has only seen a change in colours, from dull, to bright red and yellow.
Founded in 1966, Mastercard first used a black and white logo under their name Interbank. In 1969, they introduced the overlapping red and yellow circles. Since then they have adapted their font from a lower-case, informal font, to the sentence-case, formal font we know today.
Founded in 1940, McDonald’s first logo was a simple script font. It wasn’t until 1946 that the logo became circular and introduced an illustration. In 1962, they introduced colour and simplified the logo to the classic ‘M’. This has since been adapted to include their full name, slogan and various shades of the red and yellow, to arrive at the golden ‘M’ of today.
Founded in Japan in 1937, Canon’s first logo was a scene of the Buddhist Goddess of Merci on a lotus flower with the Japanese name. This was change to the name only in 1934. In 1935, the logo became ‘Canon’ and has since only been adapted through he use of different fonts.
Founded in 1930, the logo has always included the infamous illustration of Colonel Sanders, who founded the company. The logo first started out as black and white text, which didn’t introduce the famous red colour until 1991. The shape of the logo went from square to circle in the 90s to become the logo we know now.
Founded in 1971, the Starbucks logo was black and white with the classic mermaid in the centre. They first introduced colour (blue) to their logo in 1987, changing this to green in 1992. The design has since had the text removed to become the mermaid symbol we recognise today.
Walmart have always included (in a simplistic font) the words Walmart. The major changes in their logo’s evolution is the use of colour which has been blue, black and white, brown, and blue again.
Founded in 1998, Google have always used the multiple colours that they use today, however their font has changed from a more bulky serif font with a drop shadow to the thin, stylised, flat version we know see today.
Founded in 1991, Vodafone’s first logo was a simplistic black and white, upper-case font stating their name. In 1997, they first introduced colour (red), keeping the font the same. In 1997, they added the classic Vodafone ‘O’ shape on a red background, which was removed in 2006, leaving the ‘O’ and the name underneath.