When a logo works, it just works. Unmistakable, iconic and beautifully crafted, here we take a look at five of the most celebrated logos of all time. From the bargain-priced Nike Swoosh that went on to shift billions of trainers, to the clever three circles that represent the world’s most famous rodent, these unforgettable masterpieces are testament to the power of branding and the creative minds who created them.
You’d be hard pressed to find a person on the planet that doesn’t instantly recognize the Nike Swoosh. Founded by Phil Knight in the 1960s under the original name of Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike adopted its new name and logo in 1971. The Swoosh was designed by graphic designer Carolyn Davidson, who was among 35 creatives who submitted ideas to the company. Davidson’s design was agreed on by the owners, although Knight himself was initially unimpressed by the treatment. “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me,” was his less-than-gushing verdict, and Davidson was paid just $35 for her efforts. Time passed, and the Swoosh became synonymous with the Just Do It strapline, and the logo went on to help build one of the most powerful brands in the world. To show his gratitude, in 1983 Knight handed Davidson a diamond ring engraved with the Swoosh and an envelope containing an undisclosed sum of Nike shares.
Breaking all the rules of branding is Google. Before Google, the accepted tenet was that in order for a brand to be successful, it should be respected and consistently applied. To change logo was to reduce brand equity. However Google has taken this rule and turned it on its head. The flagship logo has gone through several incarnations. The current version was designed by Ruth Kedar, and is a word mark formed from the Catull typeface. And even this standard marque breaks the rules of color application, with an irregular placement pattern that sees the letter ‘L’ in green, as opposed the expected yellow. Add to this the revolutionary concept of Google Doodles, which replace the lettering with an illustration or graphic to commemorate days of significance and the occasional use of a special colourless logo to mark major tragedies.
Yves Saint Laurent
Designed by A.M Cassandre in 1963, the Yves Saint Laurent logo is notable for its success in several key areas. Not only has it been the brand’s signature logo for over four decades, its elegance has lent an understated sophistication to the French brand which few other fashion houses have ever achieved. In this logo Cassandre breaks many accepted design rules. He masterfully blends the letterforms to create a sense of harmony, despite incorporating both sans and serifs and subtly juxtaposing both roman and italic forms within the same word. Yet he somehow manages to fuse these elements seamlessly, despite their supposed incompatibility on paper. Influenced by cubism and surrealism, the logo has played an integral feature in countless advertising campaigns, outshining the likes of Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer, and has been used to embellish every couture handbag, garment and accessory produced by the couture company since.
Not strictly speaking a logo, yet these three simple circles are immediately recognizable as Mickey Mouse and are inseparable from the Walt Disney brand. Created by Ub Iwerks, Mickey was designed out of circles in order to make him easier to animate. One of his most notable features, his ears, always appear to be circular no matter which way he is facing making him impossible to confuse with any other character. In fact, so iconic is the marque, that Disney has carefully placed hundreds of hidden Mickey’s in rides, attractions and restaurants across their theme parks. Hidden Mickeys can form using light, created from objects such as plates or balloons, embedded in animation cells or painted onto buildings. There is even one that can only be seen from the air within The Plaza at the end of Hollywood Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Subliminal marketing or inspirational use of iconic branding?
Gamers of a certain age cannot help but feel a huge sense of emotional attachment to the iconic Atari ‘Fuji’ logo. Designed in 1972 by George Opperman, the logo consists of a stylized letter ‘A’, and takes its inspiration from Pong, their most successful game at that time. Opperman claims that the symbol represents two opposing players, with the center line forming the court in the middle. Simple, enduring, iconic and effective. A successful logo that deserves its place in design history.