The Evolution of Famous Logotypes: From Simple Symbols to Iconic Designs

From simple symbols to iconic designs, logotypes have played a crucial role in establishing and maintaining brand identities over the years. In today’s competitive market, a strong logo can set apart a company from its competitors and create an indelible impact on consumers’ minds.

As we take you through the evolution of some of the most famous logotypes across decades – including Apple, McDonald’s, Ford Motor Company and more – witness how these designs have transformed into powerful visual representations that resonate with millions worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • Logotypes play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining brand identity by conveying the company’s values, mission, and personality to customers.
  • Famous logos like Coca Cola, Apple, and Amazon have become iconic due to their unique design elements that resonate with consumers worldwide.
  • Effective logo designs often prioritize simplicity combined with strong symbolism, as seen in groundbreaking pioneers like Ford Motor Company or Chanel.
  • Beginner designers can hone their skills towards crafting captivating visuals by understanding historical context while striving for memorable design elements to create an enduring brand identity.

The Importance Of Logotypes In Brand Identity

Logotypes play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining a strong brand identity. A well-designed logo acts as the visual representation of your company, portraying its values, mission, and personality to potential clients and customers.

Take Coca-Cola’s iconic script logo or Apple’s sleek bitten apple design as examples; these logos are instantly recognizable worldwide due to their unique designs that resonate with millions of people across the globe.

These famous logotypes not only embody each company’s essence but also contribute significantly to their success by ensuring brand recognition and loyalty among various target audiences.

In today’s digital landscape where countless brands vie for attention online and offline alike through custom logo stickers or social media presence; having a distinctive and memorable logotype is more critical than ever.

Logos such as Tesla’s minimalistic “T” or Amazon’s smiling arrow have become key components in shaping perceptions about their respective companies – showcasing innovation for Tesla or friendly customer service for Amazon – allowing them to stand out amid fierce competition.

Evolution Of Famous Logotypes: Decade By Decade

Discover how famous logos have evolved over the years, including Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, Mercedes-Benz in the 1900s and Nike, Apple in the 1970s.

1900s: Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, Mercedes-Benz

The 1900s marked the beginning of the modern era of advertising and brand recognition, giving rise to some of the most iconic logotypes in history. Notable examples from this period include Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, and Mercedes-Benz.

Eastman Kodak’s first logo was simply their name with a simple symbol above it, reflecting the company’s straightforward approach to photography at that time.

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company initially adopted its script-based logo designed by Childe Harold Wills in 1909. This emblem has undergone several transformations but has managed to maintain its core identity throughout the years – an embodiment of strength, quality, and innovation that draws a connection between customers worldwide.

Mercedes-Benz emerged on the scene with one of the most elegant designs in automotive history – combining simplicity with enduring significance through their three-pointed star encased within a circle.

Symbolizing “engineered vehicles for land, water, and air,” this timeless design remains largely unchanged since its introduction over a century ago.

These early logotypes set powerful precedents for future designers who sought inspiration from these giants’ groundbreaking achievements.

1910s: BMW, UPS

In the 1910s, some of today’s iconic logotypes were born, two of which include BMW and UPS. The original design for the BMW logo dates back to 1917 when the company was focused on producing aircraft engines.

Drawing inspiration from their aviation heritage while incorporating elements of their Bavarian roots, the emblem features a circular border containing four blue and white sections that resemble a rotating propeller – colors taken directly from the flag of Bavaria.

UPS is another famous brand whose logo originated in this era; specifically, it can be traced back to 1916. Sporting an elegant shield adorned with initials “UPS” at its center, complemented by a bow-tie emblem wrapped around it like ribbon on a package carefully delivered right at your doorstep.

This classic design not only reflected their commitment to delivering parcels safely but also showcased how they wanted their customers to remember them: as professional couriers handling all shipments with great care.

1920s: Chanel, Columbia

The 1920s marked a turning point in logo design, with many iconic logos being introduced during this decade. Chanel’s logo, created in 1910 by its founder Coco Chanel, features an interlocking double “C” against a black background.

The logo has become synonymous with luxury fashion and is still used today. Similarly, Columbia Pictures Corporation’s logo was introduced in 1924 and features Lady Columbia holding a torch.

Logo design during the 1920s was characterized by a focus on modernity and simplicity. Many logos were designed to be easily recognizable and memorable, even from far distances or at high speeds (think of logos for car brands like Ford).

The use of color also became more prevalent during this decade as companies realized that colors can convey specific meanings and associations to customers.

1930s: Volkswagen

In the 1930s, the Volkswagen logo was created by Franz Xaver Reimspiess, an employee of Volkswagen. The logo features the initials “V” and “W” encased in a circle and has become one of the most iconic logos in history.

It reflects the values that Volkswagen holds – reliability, innovation, and simplicity – with its clean design and minimalistic approach.

The Volkswagen logo is proof that even simple designs can have a huge impact when done right. As beginner designers, it’s important to remember that sometimes less is more when it comes to creating effective logos for businesses.

1940s: Rosie The Riveter

In the 1940s, one of the most iconic logos was created: Rosie the Riveter. The logo features a woman with a red bandana on her head and flexing her arm, symbolizing women’s entry into the workforce during World War II.

Although it wasn’t originally designed as a brand or corporate identity, Rosie has since been adopted by several companies and organizations to represent strength, resilience, and female empowerment.

For instance, an iteration of Rosie is still used today by the US National Park Service to commemorate American women’s involvement in wartime efforts.

1950s: Frigidaire, NASA

The 1950s was a decade of growth in consumer culture and advertising, with logos becoming more complex and geometric. Frigidaire’s logotype evolved during this era, incorporating a scripted font and stylized “F.” The brand’s logo underwent several changes before finally settling on the iconic blue color scheme that is still recognized today.

Meanwhile, NASA’s logotype also experienced various iterations throughout the decade, including the introduction of the famous “worm” emblem. Both Frigidaire and NASA set the stage for more intricate yet recognizable logo designs that would become ubiquitous in subsequent decades.

1960s: IBM

The 1960s was the decade of significant changes in graphic design, and IBM played a leading role in this evolution. Paul Rand’s iconic logo for IBM represented progressive growth and was a departure from previous logos that were cluttered and complex.

The IBM logo features three horizontal lines representing growth, and it maintains its popularity to date. The use of simple geometric shapes allowed the company to have an instantly recognizable visual identity which remains core to its branding strategy even today.

Other companies of this era followed suit with simpler designs, such as American Airlines’ stylized “A” and AT&T’s globe symbol, both designed to reflect the companies’ global reach.

1970s: Nike, Apple

In the 1970s, Nike and Apple emerged as front-runners in the logo design world. Nike’s iconic “swoosh” logo was designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for just $35. The simple yet dynamic design has since become synonymous with athletic excellence and performance.

Apple’s original logo, featuring Sir Isaac Newton under an apple tree, failed to capture the attention of consumers. In 1977, Rob Janoff redesigned the logo into a sleek and minimalist apple shape with a bite taken out of itsymbolizing knowledge and enlightenment through technology.

1980s: MTV, World Wildlife Fund

In the 1980s, two iconic logos emerged: MTV and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The MTV logo, designed by Manhattan Design, was inspired by pop art and graffiti. It features a bold typeface with a large “M” that resembles a television set.

The vibrant colors and dynamic shape of the logo helped establish MTV as a leader in youth culture and music programming. Similarly, the WWF logo is instantly recognizable for its image of a panda in black and white.

Designed by Sir Peter Scott, an artist and founder of the organization, the logo has become synonymous with conservation efforts worldwide.

Overall, these logos showcase how effective design can create powerful associations between brands or organizations and their values or goals.

1990s: Windows, FedEx

In the 1990s, logo design saw a shift towards simplicity and modernity. Windows’ iconic four-colored window pane logo was introduced in 1992 and has since become one of the most recognizable logos in the world.

The clean lines and bold colors represented Microsoft’s commitment to innovation and forward-thinking. In contrast, the FedEx logo underwent a subtle yet significant transformation with its new color scheme and font choice in 1994.

The addition of an italicized “Ex” created a sense of movement and speed while still maintaining the brand’s reputation for reliability and efficiency.

Iconic Logotype Transformations

Amazon transformed from a simple text logo to the iconic smile, while Disney evolved from a signature to a stylized symbol and Nike’s swoosh became one of the most recognizable logos in the world.

McDonald’s Golden Arches underwent several changes throughout its history, leading to its present day iteration as an instantly recognizable symbol of fast food. Coca-Cola’s timeless script has remained largely unchanged since its inception in 1887.

Amazon: From Simple Text To A Smile

Amazon’s logo has evolved since its inception in 1998, moving from a simple wordmark to the recognizable smile logo we know today. In 2000, Amazon introduced its new logo which features a wordmark with a smile made out of an orange arrow.

The arrow points from A to Z indicating that Amazon delivers anything from point A to point Z.

Amazon’s branding strategy focuses on creating a strong and consistent brand image across all platforms. The evolution of their logo demonstrates the importance of branding and how impactful a well-designed logo can be on a company’s success.

Disney: From A Signature To A Stylized Symbol

The Disney logo has undergone several transformations over the years, from its origins as a simple signature to the iconic stylized symbol that we know today.

In 1955, Walt Disney created the first version of the famous Disney logo featuring his own cursive handwriting.

The current Disney logo features a stylized castle with a distinctive font for the word “Disney” and an iconic letter “D”. The evolution of the logo reflects changes in technology, design trends, and cultural movements over time.

The Disney brand is built on storytelling and creativity, which is evident in their logos throughout history.

Nike: The Birth Of The Swoosh

Nike’s Swoosh logo is one of the most recognized logos in the world and has become synonymous with the brand. What many people may not know is that it was designed by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University, in 1971 for just $35.

The story behind Nike’s iconic logo also speaks to the importance of sticking with a bold and unconventional idea even if it doesn’t seem perfect at first. Founder Phil Knight didn’t initially love Davidson’s design but took a chance on it anyway, recognizing its potential.

McDonald’s: The Golden Arches Evolution

The McDonald’s logo has undergone significant changes over the years to better reflect the fast-food giant’s brand identity and values. The iconic golden arches were introduced in 1961 as an architectural element of new McDonald’s buildings, inspired by the architecture of their first restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

Since then, they have been updated several times with changes to shape, size, and color. In 2006, a simplified version featuring three-dimensional golden arches and lowercase letters was introduced.

Today, the logo is instantly recognizable globally and has become a symbol of fast food culture worldwide.

Coca-Cola: The Timeless Script

One of the most recognizable and iconic logos in the world is that of Coca-Cola. The company has undergone several changes to its logo over time, but one element has remained consistent: the script font.

Over the years, Coca-Cola has adapted their logo to different cultures and regional markets by making variations to their fonts and designs. Despite these changes, they have always maintained a simple yet powerful aesthetic for their logotype.

Coca-Cola’s success can be attributed in part to this strong brand identity, which evolves with changing consumer tastes while still staying true to their core values of sustainability and social responsibility.

Google: From A Simple Search Engine To A Tech Giant

Google’s logo has undergone multiple redesigns since the company’s establishment in 1998. The original Google logo featured primary colors and a playful font, while the current logo is more modern and streamlined.

This change reflects Google’s focus on innovation and breaking the rules, as seen through their development of new technologies like Google Glass or self-driving cars. A notable feature of Google’s branding is its popular doodle, which features unique designs to commemorate events and holidays all over the world.

These elements have helped establish Google as not just a search engine, but a tech giant that values creative thinking and pushes boundaries in design.

Hidden Meanings And Stories Behind Famous Logotypes

Discover the fascinating stories behind some of the world’s most well-known logos, including Apple’s iconic bite, Audi’s four rings, and Starbucks’ evolution of their mermaid symbol.

Uncover unexpected details and symbols that hold deeper meanings than meets the eye.

Apple: The Bite And Its Significance

The Apple logo is one of the most recognizable logos in the world. The design consists of a simple apple with a bite taken out of it. But what does this mean? The bite represents knowledge and enlightenment, while the apple symbolizes temptation and original sin.

Steve Jobs chose this logo to represent his company’s mission to spread knowledge through computers and enlighten humanity.

Apple’s commitment to simplicity is reflected in its logo design as well. It uses clean lines and minimal color schemes, making it easy for customers to identify their products at first glance.

This approach has helped establish Apple’s reputation for producing high-quality technology that resonates with consumers worldwide.

Audi: The Four Rings And Their Origin

The Audi logo is instantly recognizable thanks to its four interlocking rings, but did you know that each ring represents a different automaker? The Audi brand was founded in Germany by August Horch, and the four rings symbolize the merger of four separate companies: DKW, Horch, Wanderer, and Audi itself.

Originally designed in 1932, the logo has evolved over time with updates to color and shading.

As beginner designers learn about creating logos for their own brands or clients, they can take inspiration from iconic designs like Audi’s. The importance of symbolism cannot be overstated when it comes to branding, as it conveys meaning without words.

Starbucks: The Mermaid And Her Evolution

The Starbucks logo is one of the most recognizable in the world, but few people know the story behind it. The original logo featured a topless mermaid with two tails and was designed to reflect Seattle’s maritime heritage.

Over time, the design has evolved, becoming more stylized and modern. In 1987, the company introduced a new version of its logo featuring a green and white color scheme that has become synonymous with Starbucks.

Today, the logo features a simplified version of the iconic mermaid image without any text or borders. Through its evolution, the Starbucks logo demonstrates how an effective brand identity can evolve over time while still maintaining recognition among consumers.

FedEx: The Hidden Arrow

The FedEx logo is a great example of how a well-designed logo can convey hidden meanings. Designed by Lindon Leader in 1994, the logo features two different colors and fonts for the “Fed” and “Ex” parts of the name.

But what really sets this logo apart is its clever use of negative space to create a hidden arrow between the letters “E” and “X”. This arrow not only symbolizes speed but also highlights the company’s focus on efficiency.

BMW: The Propeller Myth And Its True Meaning

The BMW logo is an iconic design that has gone through significant changes over the years. One of the most enduring myths surrounding the emblem is that it represents a spinning propeller, thanks to a clever advertising campaign in the 1920s.

The truth behind the BMW logo’s design is more straightforward but still meaningful. The blue and white sections of the circular emblem are taken from the flag of Bavaria, where BMW was founded.

The black ring surrounding them represents the company’s focus on precision engineering and technology.

The Role Of Color In Logotype Design

Color plays a crucial role in logotype design, as it can evoke emotion and create brand recognition.

McDonald’s: Red And Yellow For Appetite Stimulation

McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable logos in the world, and it owes a significant part of its success to its clever use of color. The famous red and yellow combination is more than just a branding decision – it’s based on scientific research.

Studies have shown that certain colors can affect our emotions and behaviors, and red and yellow are known to stimulate appetite. That makes them perfect choices for fast food chains like McDonald’s, who want customers to associate their brand with hunger cravings.

Interestingly enough, the design of the McDonald’s logo has evolved significantly over time while maintaining its iconic color scheme. It started as a simple arch design before becoming more stylized in later years.

The current version features golden arches against a bold red background, making it instantly recognizable all over the world.

IBM: Blue For Trust And Reliability

One of the most iconic logos in history is IBM’s, which features bold blue block letters with 13 horizontal stripes. Designed by Paul Rand, the logo has been praised for its simplicity and effectiveness in communicating the brand’s identity.

The color blue was chosen to convey trust and reliability, qualities that are essential in the tech industry where IBM operates. The blue stripes also represent “speed and dynamism,” adding an element of modernity to a classic design.

This logo opened up new possibilities for logo design, inspiring countless other brands to incorporate bold colors into their branding strategies as well.

Coca-Cola: Red For Excitement And Energy

Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable logos in the world, and its bright red color plays a huge role in that recognition. The company has used the color red for over a century to evoke feelings of excitement and energy.

Incorporating red into your logo can be a great way to create an emotional connection with your audience. It’s important, however, to ensure that you’re using the right shade of red for your brand message.

While Coca-Cola uses bold and bright hues, brands like Target opt for softer shades of red to convey trustworthiness and reliability.

Starbucks: Green For Growth And Freshness

The Starbucks logotype is a well-known design that has gone through several transformations over the years. Its current logo features a green mermaid, which has been stylized and simplified compared to its original version.

The color green in the Starbucks logo represents growth and freshness, which ties in with the company’s values of sustainability and ethical sourcing. Understanding the significance of color is crucial when designing a logotype, as it can convey certain emotions and meanings to consumers.

The Impact Of Logotype Redesigns On Brand Perception

Logotype redesigns can have a significant impact on brand perception, as seen with Pepsi’s multiple redesigns and the controversial new logo for Instagram.

Pepsi: Multiple Redesigns And Their Effects

One brand that has undergone several logo redesigns over the years is Pepsi. Beginning with their simple circular design in the 1950s, to a modern font in the 1970s, to a focus on blue hues and three-dimensional looks in the 1990s, and finally a simplified design featuring their original sphere shape in 2008.

Each iteration of their logo aimed to keep up with changing trends while maintaining recognizable elements of their brand identity. However, not all redesigns were successful; some faced criticism for being too similar to other brands or lacking coherence with previous designs.

This highlights the importance of understanding your brand’s core values and carefully considering any changes made to its visual identity.

In 2016, Instagram underwent a major redesign of its logo, which sparked mixed reactions from users and designers alike. The new design featured a colorful gradient background with a simplified camera icon at the center.

While some praised the modernized look for being fresh and playful, others criticized it for straying too far from Instagram’s iconic identity. This incident highlights how important it is to strike a balance between innovation and consistency when redesigning a logo, as well as understanding your audience’s expectations and preferences.

Uber: The Importance Of A Unified Brand Identity

Uber’s logotype is a prime example of the importance of a unified brand identity. Over the years, Uber has undergone various logo redesigns – from the original black and white “U” to the current monochrome circular emblem.

A unified brand identity creates consistency across all touchpoints with consumers, making it easier for people to remember and recognize your company. For Uber, this means using consistent design elements such as color palettes or typography in all branding materials like their app icon or social media posts.

Lessons Learned From The Evolution Of Famous Logotypes

Consistency is crucial in maintaining brand identity, and it’s essential to adapt to changing trends while understanding the psychology of design to tell a story effectively with your logotype.

Consistency Is Key

Maintaining consistency in logo design is essential for building brand recognition and establishing a strong identity. A consistent logo helps customers identify your business quickly and easily, allowing it to stand out among competitors.

For example, the Coca-Cola logo has remained virtually unchanged since its creation in 1887, while still being one of the world’s most recognizable logos today.

Consistency also creates trust between the consumer and the brand by creating a sense of familiarity and reliability. It may be tempting to continually update or change a logo to keep up with trends or revitalize interest, but too many changes can damage brand recognition and lose customer loyalty.

In the world of design, trends come and go quickly. It’s essential for beginner designers to stay up-to-date with the latest design trends and adapt their style accordingly.

The evolution of famous logos, such as Instagram or Pepsi, highlights this need for constant adaptation. Instagram recently underwent a redesign that many users criticized for its departure from the classic camera icon.

By contrast, Pepsi has undergone multiple logo redesigns over the years to keep pace with changing consumer tastes. As these examples show, keeping a finger on the pulse of current design trends is crucial in creating logos that resonate with audiences today while still maintaining brand identity and values.

Understand The Psychology Of Design

To create a successful logo, it’s important to understand the psychology of design. The way we perceive colors and shapes can elicit strong emotions and associations in our minds.

For example, blue is often associated with trustworthiness and reliability, while red is tied to excitement and energy.

One excellent example of this can be seen in the evolution of the Coca-Cola logo. Since its founding in 1886, the company has consistently used red as its primary color due to its association with excitement and energy, creating an emotional connection with consumers that has lasted over 100 years.

Additionally, their iconic script font conveys a sense of timelessness – it almost looks handwritten – which helps project an image of stability even as culture changes around them.

Tell A Story With Your Logotype

Your logotype is not just a symbol; it’s an opportunity to tell your brand’s story. A well-designed logo encapsulates the essence of your business, its values, and history.

Consider the Coca-Cola logo: its timeless script and red color immediately conjure up images of classic Americana. The company has used this identity to market itself as an iconic American brand for over 130 years.

Similarly, FedEx cleverly included a hidden arrow in its logo to represent speed and efficiency in delivery services.


In today’s fast-paced world, a company’s logo is often the first point of contact with its customers. From Eastman Kodak in the early 1900s to Apple and Google today, logos have undergone a remarkable transformation over time.

The importance of branding cannot be overstated, and logotypes play an integral role in creating brand identity and recognition. As we have seen through our exploration of famous logos, it takes patience, creativity, and understanding to create a design that can stand the test of time.

Whether it’s McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s swoosh symbol, logos have become embedded in our culture and consciousness as icons that are recognized worldwide.

By studying these iconic designs’ evolution from simple symbols to masterful creations consistently connected with audiences successfully for decades inspires beginner designers to take their work seriously as they explore creative ways to communicate enduring messages through visual identity.


1. What is a logotype and how has it evolved over time?

A logotype is a graphic representation of a company or brand name, often used as its primary identifier. Logotypes have evolved over time from simple symbols to more intricate designs that incorporate typography, color, and other design elements to convey the essence of the brand.

2. How important is branding in today’s business world?

Branding plays an essential role in today’s business world by giving companies a unique identity and helping them stand out from competitors. A strong brand can also evoke emotions, build trust with customers, and increase customer loyalty.

3. What are some examples of famous logotypes that have undergone significant changes over time?

Some well-known logos that have changed significantly over time include Starbucks (which started with a brown mermaid logo), Pepsi (which originally featured red, white, and blue colors), and Apple (which initially had a multicolored apple design).

4. What factors influence the evolution of logotypes for companies and brands?

The evolution of logotypes can be influenced by multiple factors such as changing consumer preferences or industry trends; mergers or acquisitions; rebranding efforts to reflect company growth or new products/services ; technological advancements which call for updating older designs to better resonate with modern audiences etcetera). Ultimately – every organization has their own specific set goals & direction they plan on pursuing – resulting in modifications made based upon unique needs rather than any hard-and-fast rules governing changes throughout entirety lifecycles brands/logos themselves!

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