Advertising logos have become such a strong part of our collective cultural consciousness that we often take them for granted. However, can you imagine a world without that vibrant red and yellow seashell, that apple with a bite out of it, or that smiling southern colonel?
Design is unquestionably one of the key aspects of brand building, and nothing shows it more than some of the most famous logos of all time.
The red, flowing script that bears the name of the world’s No. 1 soft drink may be in English, but it’s recognizable in any language. The company’s first logo was designed in 1886 in plain bold print, but by 1900 Coca-Cola boasted a cursive script logo that helped propel it to worldwide fame. In what can easily be considered an effort not to tamper with success, today’s red and white logo still somewhat resembles the black-and-white one used a century ago.
Wendy’s provides an important example of the benefit of periodically updating logos while keeping the original style intact. In early 2013, for example, the company decided to give a contemporary facelift to their famous red-haired, freckle-faced logo. This style of design modernization is seen in a number of popular little girl images, such as the Morton Salt Girl, the Coppertone Girl and Little Debbie, but their appeal has remained constant.
Colonel Sanders may be long gone, but his smiling, welcoming image may just live forever. Although the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand has been shortened to KFC these days, from the company’s founding in 1952 to its present incarnation the reassuring image of founder Colonel Harlan Sanders has remained intact. Because of their well designed logo, savvy executives know that, for consumers, the comforting face of Colonel Sanders inspires trust and conjures up images of huge family dinners with endless platters of homemade Southern fried chicken.
If you’ve ever seen the classic film “Some Like It Hot,” you’ll recall the scene where actor Tony Curtis, impersonating an oil baron, simply holds up a seashell when asked which company he owns. As one of the most familiar branding logos in the world, the Shell symbol actually started off in 1900 as a closed, clam-like shell etched in black ink. The shell finally opened up in 1904, but didn’t go color until 1948. Today, the symbol is so famous that the company doesn’t even bother to put its name on the logo anymore.
Compared to these other advertising logos, Apple may be the new kid on the block, but for several decades the apple with a bite out of it has been an instantly recognizable graphic image worldwide. The company’s first logo in 1976, however, consisted of an Art Nouveau drawing of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree (with one tiny apple visible). The too-fussy image conveyed nothing, and later that year Apple introduced its famous apple logo which, with its simple message of taking a bite (or byte) out of life, has endured.
These iconic designs stand out like a beacon among the deluge of branding logos we’re confronted with in today’s commercialized world, and constantly remind us that your logo has to be unique and powerful, and it should be displayed consistently on everything from signage to company stationery. After all, the design that you choose for your logo can make it immediately identifiable around the world, and it can even help you build up your brand by burning its image — whether appealing, provocative, humorous or reassuring — into the collective consciousness of consumers everywhere.
-Building Your Brand With Design