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Logo Glow Up: How 30 Brand Logos Evolved Over the Years

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Many iconic brands, over the years, have recognized the need to adapt and evolve their logos to stay relevant in an ever-changing market. The transformations have resulted in dramatic improvements, retaining the spirit of the brand while embracing contemporary design trends.

We took a gander at the evolution of 30 household brands' logos to see how these companies have effectively transformed their visual identities. We show only the most radical makeovers through the years. How many of these do you remember?

Logo Glow Up: How 30 Brand Logos Evolved Over the Years

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  1. Starbucks - The original Starbucks logo featured a topless mermaid, but it was later modified to a more modest version with flowing hair and a twin-tailed siren.

  2. Apple - The bitten apple logo of Apple was inspired by a real apple, specifically the apple that led to the discovery of gravity by Sir Isaac Newton.

  3. Coca-Cola - The Coca-Cola logo was created by Frank Mason Robinson, who was the company's bookkeeper and also suggested the name "Coca-Cola".

  4. Adidas - The three stripes in the Adidas logo represent a mountain, symbolizing the challenges and goals that athletes strive to overcome.

  5. Ikea - The blue and yellow colors in the Ikea logo are inspired by the colors of the Swedish flag. It features bold, capitalized letters in a custom typeface called "Ikea Sans".
  6. Pepsi – Pepsi's change from an all-red logo to a red, white, and blue medley was due to patriotism. To show support during the war, Pepsi changed their bottle cap to resemble the colors of the flag.

  7. Mercedes-Benz - The Mercedes-Benz logo consists of a three-pointed star within a circle, symbolizing the company's dominance in land, sea, and air transportation.

  8. Microsoft - In 1987, Microsoft introduced the playful "Pac-Man" logo, featuring bold letters and a distinctive "Pac-Man-like" letter "O," designed by Bill Wall.

  9. IBM - Initially known as Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) in the late 1800s, IBM had an initial logo reflecting its original name. In 1924, it transitioned to the brand we all know ‘IBM’, necessitating a logo change.

  10. Google - Google briefly experimented with a logo variation in 1998-1999 including an exclamation point, spelling "Google!"—although it is not confirmed whether it was inspired by Yahoo!'s logo.

  11. Amazon - The Amazon logo features a smile-shaped arrow connecting the letters "A" to "Z," indicating that the company offers a wide range of products from A to Z.

  12. Facebook - The lowercase "f" in the logo is intentionally not capitalized to convey a sense of approachability and informality.

  13. Twitter - The bird in the Twitter logo is named "Larry the Bird" after former NBA player Larry Bird.

  14. Instagram - The Instagram logo features a stylized camera, paying homage to the platform's origin as a photo-sharing app. The logo's vibrant colors were inspired by various elements, including retro Polaroid cameras and sunsets.

  15. McDonald's - The golden arches in the McDonald's logo were originally a feature of the early restaurant architecture. They were later incorporated into the logo.

  16. FedEx - The FedEx logo contains a hidden arrow formed by the negative space between the letters "E" and "X." This symbolizes speed, precision, and forward movement.

  17. UPS - The UPS logo features a shield shape, symbolizing strength and reliability. The current UPS logo, introduced in 2003, replaced the previous logo that had been in use for over 40 years.

  18. American Airlines - The American Airlines logo, known as the "Flight Symbol," features an eagle with its wings spread wide, representing strength and freedom.

  19. Delta Air Lines - The Delta Air Lines logo features a triangular shape, representing the Greek letter "Delta" symbolizing change.

  20. Dunkin' Donuts - Dunkin' Donuts changed its logo in 2019, dropping the word "Donuts" to simply "Dunkin'." The rebranding reflects the company's focus beyond donuts and toward a wider range of food and beverages.

  21. Subway – Subway's most recent version features a simple and contemporary design, emphasizing the arrows that form an "S" shape, representing Subway's commitment to fast and efficient service.

  22. Pizza Hut - Pizza Hut’s current logo features a red roof shape, representing a hut, and the text is placed inside the roof.

  23. Walmart - The Walmart logo features the company's name in lowercase letters, with a yellow sunburst shape at the end. The sunburst represents positivity, energy, and the desire to help customers save money and live better.

  24. Target - The Target logo is a simple, red-and-white design that resembles a target or bullseye. It symbolizes the company's aim to provide customers with a precise and focused shopping experience.

  25. BMW – The inner circle of BMW’s logo is made to resemble a plane’s propeller. White and blue are also the state colors of Bavaria, Germany where the company hails.

  26. Burger King - The Burger King logo has evolved over time, but its most recent version features a retro-inspired design with a bold, minimalistic text and a circular logo element. The logo reflects a nostalgic nod to the brand's heritage.

  27. Wendy's - The Wendy's logo features a young girl named Wendy Thomas, who is the daughter of the company's founder, Dave Thomas. The logo portrays Wendy with pigtails and the brand name placed above her.

  28. Visa - The Visa logo is a blue and gold image that combines the brand's name with a stylized representation of a flag. The flag element represents acceptance and global reach.

  29. Mastercard - In 2019, Mastercard removed the word "Mastercard" from its logo, relying on the recognizable symbol alone.

  30. General Electric - The General Electric logo features a blue circle surrounding the stylized letters "GE". The circle represents unity, continuity, and a global presence, while the letters depict the company's initials.

A Quick History of Logo Design

Logo design isn’t something new. It has a rich history that spans centuries. The earliest example of logos can be found during ancient times when they used pictorial symbols or hieroglyphs. These symbols represented deities, rulers, or important events. Examples include the Eye of Horus in ancient Egypt and the royal seals of ancient Mesopotamia. In the Middle Ages, logos were used as marks or insignias by craftsmen and guilds to identify their work. Fast forward to The Renaissance, elaborate coats of arms were used to represent noble families, cities, and organizations. Logos as we know it today stared popping up in the Industrial Revolution, where companies started incorporating logos into their packaging and products. The development of lithography and printing techniques also enabled the widespread use of logos.

Across eras, logo design continues to evolve. Now that we’re in the digital age, there are three trends that are becoming more and more prevalent:

  1. Color Psychology: Color plays a crucial role in logo design as it evokes emotions and conveys messages. Bold and vibrant colors are used to grab attention and create a memorable impact. While minimalistic color palettes give off a sense of simplicity and sophistication. In this article about the psychology of logo design, they talk about how specific colors evoke specific emotions and how a combination of shades offers psychological implications.

  2. Fibonacci in Logo Design: The Golden Ratio, derived from the Fibonacci sequence, is a design principle that creates aesthetically pleasing proportions. Some designers apply the Golden Ratio to determine the ideal proportions of elements within a logo, such as the size and positioning of shapes, lines, and typography. In the article about the Golden Ratio and its use in graphic design, you’ll see the different instances it’s been used in logos and layouts.

  3. Scalability: Logo scalability refers to the ability of a logo to maintain its visual integrity and legibility when resized for different applications and mediums. This is important in digital designs so that the logos adapt and transform to fit different screen sizes, ensuring optimal legibility and recognition.

Successful logo evolutions capture the essence of a brand's heritage while embracing contemporary design trends, resulting in a visual identity that is both timeless and modern. Case in point is the project Branded in Memory, where we tested the memory of over 150 individuals to recall and draw from memory ten of the world’s most iconic logos.

By keeping their logos fresh and engaging, brands can forge stronger connections with their target audience, leaving a lasting impression and remaining at the forefront of their industries.

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