03 Oct The Stories Behind Famous Logos
A logo puts a brand’s story and core values in visual form. Creating one takes time, brainstorming and research. Each one has a story. The designer takes on a huge responsibility, considering the final product may represent that brand for years to come. Consumers should recognize a company just from its logo.
You might know the story of the $35 Nike logo, which we described in our post Famous Logos Designed by Amateurs. But did you know the stories behind these other famous logos?
Toyota’s Overlapping Hearts
Toyota’s seemingly cryptic logo has undergone major enhancements since the company’s conception. In 1936, the logo contained Kiichiro Toyoda’s last name embedded in a diamond figure. It remained so for ten years. In 1946, it was replaced with the Japanese spelling of “Toyoda” in a red circle. By 1989 the company had expanded to North America and decided to simplify the brand image. They redesigned the logo to include two overlapping circles inside a large oval. The two small ovals inside symbolized the overlapping hearts of the company and its customers. The ovals brilliantly form the letter T.
Apple And Bytes
Many know the Apple brand for its minimalist design. Ronald Wayne designed the first Apple logo, depicting Sir Isaac Newton under an apple tree. It incorporated the tagline “A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought … alone.” Steve Jobs scrapped the logo in 1977, arguing that it was too vague. It was replaced with a more familiar visual of an apple.
Designer Rob Janoff accented Apple’s apple with a “bite” mark, and there are several possible explanations for why. Some say the bitten apple was an ode to Alan Turing. Turing was a computer scientist and mathematician believed to have committed suicide by consuming cyanide, although some dispute this conclusion. Another explanation was that Janoff wanted to avoid anyone confusing the apple with a cherry. The other is that the “bite” was a pun on computer “byte,” as used in the tagline “Byte into an Apple.”
Meanwhile, the colored stripes celebrated a key feature of Apple the II, its color graphics. Again, some commentators tied the rainbow to Turing, who was persecuted for being gay. The colorful apple stuck around for 22 years. The monochromatic Apple logo we know of now launched in 1998.
The A-Zs Of Amazon
Jeff Bezos established Amazon.com in 1994. The logo evolved along with the company. It began as a translucent A over a water texture. However, it didn’t pair well with the tagline “Earth’s biggest bookstore.” The company started to expand in 1998, adding music to its inventory. The waters were replaced with a white background and the company name became the key feature of the new logo. In 2000, Amazon launched the iconic arrow. The arrow points from A to Z, signifying that Amazon carries every product from A to Z. In addition, the arrow forms a smile.
FedEx and its Negative Space
Back in 1971, FedEx went by its full name, Federal Express. The now iconic FedEx logo came along in 1994. The logo is hailed for its wise use of negative space. The arrow situated between the “E” and “X” often goes unnoticed, but once you see it you can’t unsee it! The symbol signifies speed and accuracy.
Lindon Leader, Senior Design Director of Landor Associates in San Francisco designed the logo. He told its story in an interview with Co.Design. The designer mentions his typical creative process. He puts too many elements on the design’s first draft, then removes elements until it becomes simple and elegant. The FedEx logo is hailed as the most legendary, and it’s won more than 40 design awards. It also ranks as the eight best logo in Rolling Stone’s American Icon issue.