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Logos You Will Recognize

Logos are a very powerful way of a company spreading not only its name but whole philosophy to the public at large. When you see a famous logo it tells you instantly who the company is and triggers thoughts you associate with that particular organization.

Huge sums of money have been spent on branding, of which logo design is a big part, and re-branding reflect a new direction a business is taking.

Many of us use logos exclusively to find a company. For example, when looking for a shop that takes MasterCard or Visa, we’ll know instantly when we see their logos displayed.

Considering how iconic some logos have become, it’s remarkable that some were designed in a few minutes and maybe as a stop gap until something better came. This was the case with the famous Nike ‘swoosh.’

logos you will recognize

Here’s fifteen of the most famous.

Coca Cola – one of the most famous and one of the oldest. Designed in 1887 just one year after the company was founded, the ornate Spencerian typeface lives on today along with the famous red and white colour scheme. Attempts at redesigning it have come to little, and the original has endured.

Nike – the famous ‘swoosh’ doesn’t even need the name ‘Nike’ alongside it for most to know what it is. This is remarkable particularly as co-founder Philip Knight selected it without much enthusiasm from those offered hoping it would grow on him.

Ford – many car company logos are very powerful and recognizable, and Ford’s is so well-known that their nick-name ‘the Blue Oval’ stems from the iconic logo first introduced in 1927.

Apple – like Nike, you know instantly what computer someone is using when you see the famous apple with a bite taken out of it logo. The simple ‘apple’ evolved from a far more intricate design when the company was founded in 1976, and became a simple apple with no wording in 1984.

Pepsi – a quick scribble by founder Caleb Bradham became the logo in 1898, five years after the company’s foundation. Over time it has been redesigned and simplified with the word ‘cola’ being dropped in 1962 and has had five revisions between 1971 and 2005.

Mercedes Benz – another famous car logo, the fabled ‘three pointed star’ has adorned the cars since 1910. It wasn’t actually the original logo, and when the ring surrounding the star was added in 1916 this became the template for all variants since.

McDonald’s – as soon as you see the famous Golden Arch you know you’re approaching one of the world’s biggest and most famous fast food restaurants. The Golden Arches were created in 1960, and over time the rest of the logo has been refined to the point where a plain ‘M’ is the main symbol worldwide.

Google – the logo created when the company was founded in 1998 as seen by many computer, tablet and smartphone users most days of the year hasn’t changed much since its inception. The exclamation mark of the original has gone and the lettering has been ‘slimmed down’ a little, but that’s all.

IBM – the famous and simple three-letter logo has endured since 1947 when it took over from the full use of the company name, International Business Machines, in a globe-like graphic. The ‘IBM’ lettering has been altered a little over the years in appearance to the striped blue of today that helps give the company its nick-name of ‘Big Blue.’

Warner Bros – the iconic shield containing the letters ‘WB’ has been the film giant’s logo from the start. There have been various tweaks and minor revisions of the design to reflect different ownerships and when color was introduced to film making.

Shell – the famous yellow shell shape with red surround has evolved considerably into the simple graphic we see today from the 1909 original of a black and white clamshell design. The shell shape  used today was started in 1930. It had the red and yellow coloring added in 1948 and had the name ‘Shell’ dropped from the logo in 1999. A classic case of the name not being necessary for brand recognition.

MasterCard – the overlapping circles are instantly recognizable. As soon as you see them displayed you know the shop, restaurant or other premises accepts MasterCard. The logo was introduced when the company was founded in 1966 and has stayed virtually the same since then.

Audi – the four interlocking rings that immediately tell you one of these German cars is approaching was introduced in 1932 to symbolize the merger of four companies to combine forces and cut costs. In 2009, Audi redesigned the logotype for the first time in nearly a century to give it a sleeker look.

Starbucks – an example of a company evolving its logo to the point where a graphic is used without any company name. In this case, the two-tailed mermaid design adopted by the founders in 1971 has been used on its own in the famous coffee retailer’s trademark green livery since 2011.

Levi’s – the famous denim jeans maker has two famous logos used simultaneously. The familiar white logotype on a red background that forms the familiar tag on the back pocket of their jeans, and the patch containing the ‘Two Horses’ that is also attached. The ‘Two Horses’ dates back to the foundation of the company in 1850 while the red and white logo appeared in 1936 as a way of making their jeans stand out.

Instant brand recognition

It’s remarkable how we think very visually when it comes to recognizing things – and many organizations know a recognizable logo or even typeface registers powerfully with the public. It’s ironic when millions are spent on logo redesign (like BP in 2008) that perhaps the oldest and most famous (Coca Cola) cost precisely nothing.

Natalie Sullivan is the Founder of Design FX Studio, one of the South East’s leading Graphic and Website Design Agencies. Natalie has helped SME’s throughout the South East improve their visual communications and corporate image since 1993.