What’s in a logo anyway...?

The word logo comes from ancient Greek, where it meant ‘a single, actively expressed creative thought.’

It’s fitting that now when we think of logos, we think of an image that sums up a whole brand. When you think about it, isn’t that a wonderful design challenge - to create a symbol that evokes a feeling to describe a whole company, it’s products, it’s people, it’s beliefs, purpose and vision.

Great logo design requires heart and soul. Here’s the story behind a few of our favourites:


In 1948 Adolf Dassler wanted his shoes to be recognisable from the stands while people watched Olympic athletes. His desire to make his product stand out from the crowd gave rise to the famous 3 stripes that still exist across all products today.


It would be another 23 years before Nike came arrived on the scene to brand their shoes, with their famous swoosh that’s based on the Greek Goddess of Victory, whom had wings. This insight was picked up by a student designer at the Uni of Portland, whom won just $35 as a prize for the logo.


The logo of Monsieur Bibendum (aka The Michelin Man) was created in 1898 and has barely changed in the 120 years since. The logo is based upon a stack of tyres of various sizes creating a character. This shows how powerful building the company product into the logo can be.


This logo was groundbreaking graphic design and has been copied a multitude of times since. The logo immediately communicates the type of movie Alfred Hitchcock’s classic is, which kicked off a whole new genre.


50 years on and Playboy is still relevant. The thinking behind the logo was to create a symbol that could be integrated through all of their communications. Their logo created ownership over the bow tie as a visual symbol for their brand, which was smart thinking.


The sun even shines on designers some days... When presenting this logo in 1994 the client stated how much they loved the ‘arrow.’ The subtle arrow in the negative space was a lucky accident!


This 3 dimensional ball of Wool was created for the wool holding body. You’ll find it on any of your woollen clothes. No copy is required, as we immediately recognise the image and feel warmth, comfort and quality from it.


Great logos don’t need to be overtly explicit if there is a great story behind them. Starbucks was named after the coffee loving first mate in Moby Dick, Starbuck. This was the founders favourite book. Another key character in the book are the crowned sirens was see and now days recognise as a symbol for a decent cuppa.


How do you create a logo for a company that has won 5 Nobel prizes and has a history dating back to the 19th century? In 1956 the 8 stripes were added to the big blue logo to show the effect of speed and dynamism. The stripes represented pillars of their company.


Surely the Crucifix is the Devine epitome of the corporate logo. Based upon a symbol of sacrifice, the crucifix immediately evokes emotions of peace and is instantly recognisable across the whole world. Bravo 12 Apostles design!


After it’s early years MTV was struggling. In 1981 the logo was redesigned by George Lois, knowing the campaign he had in mind. He wanted a series of musicians shouting “I want my MTV” across TV commercials as his rallying cry. He managed to persuade Mick Jagger to lead the campaign and added the Rolling Stones lips to the logo. Other musicians followed and then the fans... MTV became a pop phenomenon and this famous version of their logo will be forever admired for it’s cultural impact.

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