A well-designed logo will stand the test of time. Here is a very short list of some of my own personal favorites. Most of these have been through some sort of modification through the years, but have generally remained very close to the original. There are many more that could easily be on this list.
Notice how all of these logos stay true to the fundamentals of good logo design (as outlined by Jacob Cass): simple, memorable, timeless, versatile, appropriate. Whenever possible, I tried to include the black version of the logos. A good logo can have just as much impact in black and white as it does in color.
Another interesting thing to note is that (contrary to popular belief) in most cases the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance. For example, McDonald’s logo does not depict a hamburger, nor does the Coca-Cola logo include an icon of a drink bottle. This is a concept that I often have a hard time getting across to clients who would like to include very literal visual references in their logo. Next time, maybe I can point them to this page!
Of course, I’m a bit biased towards the Apple logo! But I love the simplicity of the apple shape and how the symbol itself is synonymous to company’s name (no need to spell out Apple Inc.) Although the original logo was adorned with horizontal rainbow-colored stripes, the apple shape has remained the same as originally designed by Rob Janoff in 1977.
Despite what some may try to claim, the Coca-Cola logo did not stay the same from 1885 till 2011. It is interesting, however, that through the years the company continually returned to the classic script that had become its trademark back in the early 1900s. This article gives a good rundown of the evolution of the Coca-Cola logo.
This one speaks for itself.
Whether you like McDonald’s food or not, you’ll have to admit that the golden arches are recognizable by the vast majority of people not only in America but across the world.
Another logo that has stayed virtually the same since it’s conception. WWF’s logo was designed in 1961 by its founder chairman, the naturalist and painter Sir Peter Scott.
This one probably doesn’t mean much to my non-Italian readers. I wanted to include a logo from my home country of Italy and this one immediately came to mind. Eni is an Italian oil and gas company (better know to most Italians as Agip – which is the automotive gasoline and diesel retailer branch of the company). I still remember staring up at the Agip filling station signs as a kid and thinking the flame-throwing dog was cool. I also recall that part of my fascination with it was the enigma of the six-legged dog . We had just talked about the birth of Rome in my elementary classroom and I imagined the dog might have some kind of reference to the mythological she wolf who raised the twins Romulus and Remus. Some would say that I was not far off. There is actually quite a bit of mystery surrounding the six-legged dog since the author (Luigi Broggini) never explained its original meaning.
I chose the FedEx logo because it’s such a great example of hidden symbolism often found in logos. The hidden arrow in this case is not a key design element, but a “hidden bonus,” as the author Lindon Leader puts it. Leader goes on to say, “the power of the logo and the FedEx marketing supporting the logo is strong enough to convey clearly FedEx brand positioning. On the other hand, if you do see the arrow, or someone points it out to you, you won’t forget it. I can’t tell you how many people have told me how much fun they have asking others if they can spot something in the logo. To have filled in the arrow, or to somehow make it more visible would have been like Henny Youngman saying ‘Please take my wife’ instead of ‘Take my wife. Please.’ Punch lines that need to be explained are neither funny nor memorable.” (Source: thesneeze.com)
The Volkswagen logo is simply solid. The stacked v and w flow seamlessly together, yet can easily be identified as separate letters.
The IBM logo is both simple and strong. The block lettering gives the sense of stability and authority it requires for being a wold leader in technology. Although similar letters were used in the logo as far back as 1947, the stripes were introduced in 1972 to communicate speed and dynamism.
Simple, clean, recognizable, memorable, effective.
So, there it is. It was hard to pick 10 logos, but I had fun doing it. I’m sure you may have others to suggest. Feel free to leave a comment or give feedback.
It’s also fun to venture a guess at which new logos will endure into the future, but that’s a topic for another blog entry!