METROany of the world's largest logos have been in use for decades or, in some cases, even centuries.
For these special logos, what is it about these graphics that made them so resilient even when their brands struggled?
It's not just branding specialists who have to work with logos: branding and logo design encompasses all design disciplines,Includingdigital product design Our mentors at Designlab work with students to help themdevelop visual and UX design skills, including how to develop successful logos for apps and websites.
In this article, we share our thoughts on what we believe to be the essential ingredients of a successful logo. Grab them and let them be your logo design inspiration.
(And then use InVision Cloud to collect and organize feedback.of your team).
What makes a good logo?
The best logos in the world seem to have these three elements in common:
The most revered logos are, almost without exception, graphically simple. That doesn't mean they are easy to create. Reducing an idea to a simple symbol is often the most difficult part of the logo design process.
The most graphically complex logo in the list below is Coca-Cola, but this is offset by itsconceptualsimplicity: just the brand name defined in the script writing.
"The most revered logos are, almost without exception, graphically simple."
Many wonderful logos have no graphic ingredients other than letters. On this list alone, Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Lego created a classic logo using just text. Other great examples include Sony, 3M, IBM, and many others.
The memorability of a logo is usually directly related to its simplicity.
We were able to identify the unique visual concept that made that symbol memorable toallof the logo inspiration on this list, be it a swoosh, arrow, or mermaid.
“Many logos, even those of large and successful companies, are not memorable because they cannot be easily associated with a single idea.”
Many logos, even those of large and successful companies, are not memorable because they cannot be easily associated with a single idea. Sometimes because they are too complex and sometimes because they are too abstract. Great memorability usually falls somewhere between these extremes.
A common misconception with logo design is that the symbol needsliterallyrepresent the brand; however, some kind of disconnection is often useful and enriching.
The most literal version of this on our list is Apple's, but here, the brand name itself has a useful disconnect from what the company actually does. As for the mermaid, gold arches, and swoosh, their strength is that they are visually memorable, not that they literally represent what the brand offers.
Time is the hardest test of all. Great logos can weather economic storms and provide a focus of identity, authority, and stability in turbulent times.
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All of the logos on this list have been around for decades. Looking at the above points (simplicity, memorability, abstraction) is often a recipe for something timeless.
"Great logos are able to weather economic storms and provide a focus of identity, authority and stability in turbulent times."
We have seen time and again that brands that get carried away by trends reduce trust and become visually diluted. The classic example is Microsoft (sorry, Bill), which has burned no fewer than five major logo reconstructions since 1980.
We've put together a list of ten logos that exemplify these values and put the rest of the world to shame.
10. Lego: The Writing Bubble
Designed:1954 (bubble writing), 1973 (current version), 1998 (minor update)
Designer:Various internal Lego employees
Years of use:1954 to present
Every child's favorite toy at some point in childhood, Lego is about creativity, freedom and fun. The bright logo of the brand easily connects with all these messages.
The first version of bubble writing.
It went through many iterationsespecially in the early years of the company. Bubble script was first used around 1954, and the current version has been in use since 1973 (apart from a minor modernization in 1998).
The logo remains strong in today's competitive toy market.
9. UPS: A bow
Years of use:1961 a 2003
The two versions of the UPS logo that came before Rand's design
Paul Rand was one of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th century behind many celebrated logo designs, including ABC, IBM, and Westinghouse. His design for UPS incorporated the "shield" shape of the company's previous logo, drastically simplified it, and added a charming and distinctive bow at the top.
Unfortunately (IMO), UPS reverted to an armored version of the design in 2003.
The 1961 logo in use
Rand's version along with the 2003 update
8. Ferrari: The Prancing Horse
Designed:1947 (in combination with Ferrari lettering)
Years of use:1947 to present
Legend has it that the Ferrari logo was born, not on a car, but on a World War I fighter plane. The famous Italian pilot Francesco Baracca was killed in action in 1918. After that, his mother apparently asked Enzo Ferrari to put the graphic that had appeared on Baracca's plane and use it on his cars.
After spending time in the Alfa Romeos that Enzo Ferrari was involved with in the 1920s and 1930s, the prancing horse has finallyfirst appeared in a Ferrariin 1947. Ultimately, though, the logo succeeds not because of its history, but because it's simple, memorable, and connects to ideas of speed and power—perfect for a sports car.
7. FedEx: A silk
Years of use:1994 to present
If you're not aware of the arrow in the FedEx logo, brace yourself: there's no going back. Designer Lindon Leader created the FedEx logo in 1994. At first glance, it is a word markset in bold future, the iconic geometric font designed by Paul Renner in 1927.
But for this logo, the type is specially modified so that the negative space between the "e" and the "x" forms a beautiful white arrow. Just as rests in music are just as important as notes, white space in graphic design is just as functional as positive elements.
6. McDonald's: The Golden Arches
Designer:Stanley Clark Meston and others
Years of use:1968 to present
Conceived by brothers (non-designers) Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1952, the Golden Arches motif was developed by various hands over the next two decades. The current version has been in use for over fifty years!
Like many great logos, its level of recognition is supported by the broader brand, including the company's distinctive red and yellow color palette. This can be seen in the success of a recent ad campaign, which used neatly cut parts of the logo, the two brand colors and little else.
5. Coca-Cola: The Script
Years of use:1886 to present
Coca-Cola has one of the oldest logos still in use, and like McDonald's and a surprising number of other great logos, it was not designed by a "designer." Frank Mason Robinson was, in fact, the accountant for John Stith Pemberton, the inventor of the drink.
The famous Coca-Cola billboard in Sydney, Australia
The logo was based on the Spencerian script that was common in the US at the time. By keeping its logo old-school throughout design trends and fashions, Coca-Cola has maintained its iconic status.
Broader brand elements, including the famous glass bottle, also helped reinforce logo recall.
4. Starbucks: The Siren
Years of use:1987 to present
The Starbucks mermaid logo concept originally dates back to 1971, but was significantly simplified and turned into a "proper" logo in 1987. Since then, it has had a few more iterations, the most recent of which in 2011 removed the text. and just left the circular logo graphic.
The evolution of the Starbucks logo
Starbucks is a great example of how the primary purpose of a logo is to build awareness rather than literally explain what a business is selling. Nude mermaids may not seem like the obvious choice for a coffee company. Yet for precisely this reason, the Starbucks logo has made it a very distinctive brand, despite intensifying competition. The way the logo has been graphically simplified over the years only adds to its memorability.
3. Woolmark: The Swirl
Years of use:1964 to present
It's easy to forget that logos are created for industry and manufacturing standards, as well as for brands. Learn about the Woolmark logo, commissioned through a design contest held by the International Wool Office in 1964. (It's a mark that indicates a garment is 100% wool.)
Franco Grignani, a well-known and respected Italian artist, was on the judging panel for the competition. However,history says thatGrignani was so disappointed with the quality of the entries that they slipped into a submission of their own using the pseudonym "Francesco Saroglia".
Although Grignani voted for another entry, presumably to cover his tracks, it was his own design that was chosen as the winner. The Woolmark logo became one of the most celebrated of the 20th century.
2. Apple: The bite
Years of use:1977 to present
The Apple logo has survived the company's major upheavals, including periods of abject commercial failure in the 1990s and the global success of recent years.
The original logo, featuring Isaac Newton, was designed by Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne. It only lasted a year.
A cohesive brand unites the entire range of Apple products.
Its history is similar to the Starbucks logo in that it began as an elaborately engraved illustration of Isaac Newton discovering gravity (hence the apple). But unlike Starbucks, its abstraction into the simple icon we know today happened suddenly, when Rob Janoff created the multi-colored striped version in 1977. Since then, the shape has stayed the same, though it's been designed in many different styles. ways since 1999.
1. Nike: O swoosh
Years of use:1971 to present
The Nike swoosh is one of the most famous symbols out there, but it didn't start out as grand. It was created in 1971 by designer Carolyn Davidson, who at the time was a student at Portland State University. The brief was to capture the idea of movement.
Original Davidson Drawings
Initially, he was paid $35 to create the logo, though he was later given stock in Nike. The company is now ranked 89th in the Fortune 500, with a market valuation of more than $100 billion. That was $35 well spent.