Logo Flashback! What you didn’t know about your favorite logo…


Welcome back! Last time we gave some examples of logos and what made them successful.

We’re going to focus on logo changes and why companies choose to enact them this month.

There comes a time in every business owner’s Journey, where he or she decides to change their company’s logo.

Sometimes these are substantial changes, done to modernize and save on printing

costs such as in the case of Apple’s original logo (early 1976):


Apple Isaac Newton jpg (1)



While a beautiful work of art that calls to mind woodcuttings of the late middle ages and depicts the

famous myth of Sir Isaac Newton discovering the principles of gravity, it is very unwieldy. Although their

original logo is memorable, their next logo change (1976-1998) achieved great success by instantly

causing a viewer to know the name of the company and by drawing a tenuous parallel to the gaining of

knowledge in the biblical account of creation:


Apple Rainbow logo jpg










In some cases, it isn’t an image portion of a graphic that remains static over time, but rather is the text.

Take for example the progression of the Coca-Cola logo:

Coke evolution jpg

Although the formula has changed vastly from the ‘medicinal’ tonic of its original incarnation, the design

of the text portion of the logo has remained fairly constant. With the exception of the short-lived 1890-

1891 incarnation, the Coca-Cola logo has undergone very minor changes since 1941. Even before 1941,

the logo is instantly recognizable and uses very similar serifs on the typefaces.


In comparison, Pepsi’s recent logo history is quite a bit different:

Pepsi History jpg

Until the introduction of the bottle cap logo in 1950, Pepsi-Cola’s logo went through a transition similar

to Coca-Cola’s, probably in an effort to compete. More interestingly though, is the evolution from 1950

onward. 1962 sees the drop of the cola suffix but retains wavy red, white, and blue bottle cap. The

desire to modernize causes the company to drop the bottle cap motif while still retaining the circular

and patriotic aspects of the previous emblem. This proves to be a forward thinking move from 1991

onward, as glass bottle soda production reaches an all-time low in the 90’s and 00’s. The current logo

(2014) is a simplistic design of a company that has such high brand-awareness that they are able to ditch

all text and move to a stylized design that calls to mind old Pepsi logos.


Sometimes the old adage of, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” applies. Nowhere is this more

apparent than in the history of BMW’s logo:

BMW LOgo history jpg


Most incarnations are very similar and all maintain three static, key elements. First is the

company abbreviation, prominently placed at the top of the black circle. Second is the black circle,

calling to mind the inner tube of a tire. And third is the stylized depiction of the Bavarian flag present in

the center of the black circle. It’s not as flashy as the other logos presented, BMW’s logo is interesting in

how it successfully adapts to cultural trends, while still maintaining the same simplistic design.





What happens though when a company changes? Perhaps there’s been a shift in market trends

and production must shift accordingly. Or perhaps the company is going international, and needs a logo

that better represents them on a global scale. Whatever the reason, a company going through a drastic

change in identity, needs a logo that changes appropriately.


The perfect example of this is in Nintendo:

nintendo_logo_history jpg


Going from a fairly successful playing card manufacturer in Japan, to one of the leading home computer

entertainment suppliers in the world affected some very drastic changes on the Nintendo logo over the

years. From 1889-1950 they used a logo represented in kanji brush strokes as was common at the time.

Post-War Japan saw a huge shift in the use of English in business and is apparent in the 1950-1960 logo.

In a period of floundering success lasting from about 1960-1975, Nintendo underwent many logo

changes as the company struggled to stay relevant by opening taxi services, hotels, toy companies, and

still manufacturing cards. With the rise of video game entertainment, starting when Nintendo received

the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey, Nintendo switched over to its familiar red and white

elongated oval logo. This logo, while hearkening back to the logos of 1967-1970, was also very modern

by switching to a rounded logo while most in Japan were hard edged at the time.

The key to a good logo is in the simplicity of the design while taking into account brand

recognition. Logos have arguably been around since the first human put up a sign depicting what one

could find in an establishment. In an era of record high literacy rates, one rarely needs to consider such

things anymore, but the same basic principles still apply. Always ask, “Does my logo accurately convey

recognition at a glance?”

One Comment

  1. Gordon Gailes wrote:

    Damn! Awesome post! Will come back to read more!

Leave a Reply