The Apple Logo And Brand: The Iconic Evolution Story

June 22, 2023

By: Gareth Mankoo

The Apple Logo And Brand: The Iconic Evolution Story

Iconic, mysterious, and exemplary–the Apple logo is responsible for cultural phenomena that the world has never seen before.

Today, the company has more money than most governments and owns a product synonymous with the most widely used device in the world: the smartphone.

The story of Apple and its rise to the pedestal of business success is one of woe, tears, and successes, all bundled into a magnificent testimonial of true resilience. So, where did this famous fruit come from, and what makes it such an iconic visual? Let’s take a few quick swipes at the Apple logo.

Key takeaways:

  • The very first Apple logo featured Isaac Newton discovering gravity as an apple falls on him from a tree.
  • As the years went by, Apple experimented with different color schemes and structures. Its current logo is a chrome icon that packs versatility.
  • According to Rob Janoff, the creator of the design, the Apple logo has a bite taken out of it so people wouldn’t confuse it with a cherry.
  • The bite on the apple is also a play on the word “byte,” which is basically the language of computers.
  • Apple’s reach to stardom was incredibly humble, with the first Macs being built in Steve Jobs’ garage.
  • The creation of the Apple logo is a great illustration of how knowledge and technology can transform seemingly insignificant details into a profound effect.

The Apple logo history and evolution through the years

The products, the founder, and the stories of Apple make up its decorated history, but what stands out as a single defining factor of the tech giant is its iconic logo design. The logo has been through a whirlwind of changes before making it to the back of today’s dazzling devices, where it gets lit up as a beacon of excellence and innovation.

Here’s the Apple logo history and evolution through the years.

1. 1976 to 1977: Newton makes an appearance


The first Apple logo would never break ground today. It has a sharp contrast to Apple’s DNA. It isn’t minimalist but cluttered, it isn’t modern but classic, and it doesn’t remotely represent technology but looks like the label of a Bavarian beer.

The logo features Isaac Newton in his moment of epiphany, just before the apple landed on him. The words, “Newton… a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone,” are inscribed on the logo frame. The brand name is inscribed on a banner, and it is wrapped around the frame with a medieval flare.

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2. 1977 to 1998: The rainbow spectrum


The first logo didn’t see much of the brand’s journey and was replaced the following year by Steve Jobs, who rightly felt it was too old-fashioned. He rationalized that an old-looking logo would cause the brand to be perceived as fuddy-duddy.

Jobs hired a graphic designer, Rob Janoff, who made the first version of the current Apple logo. In this case, it was a rainbow spectrum that filled the color in the apple. The brand name is mentioned in small caps, with the ‘a’ interacting with the mnemonic. It seemed like it had taken a bite out of the colorful fruit.

Over time, the logo became an object of experimentation. The best rendition that resulted from these trials was one that did not contain the wordmark. All it had was the logo with a bite taken out of it. This mnemonic became the logo we all admire today.

3. 1998 to 2001: The classic design


Computers started to get slimmer and sleeker. Many began wearing silver or metallic coats, and the rainbow logo didn’t sit right in this ecosystem. The return of Steve Jobs to Apple during this period inspired a brand overhaul. The Apple logo had already registered in the minds of customers in terms of its shape. But that was all.

The company changed its colors and opted for a black and white logo. The iMac was the first device to bear this bold new design.

4. 2001 to 2007: Full of depth


The 2001 Apple logo tried to add some character to the flat black logo. It introduced a silver gradient with a noticeable depth in its color. The 2001 Apple logo was so vivid that it would stand out on any surface.

Coined as the aqua or glass logo, the color was successful among fans and found an increasing adoption of its use on the brand’s online channels.

5. 2007 to 2017: A 3D spin


By 2007, the novelty of the original aqua logo began to run out. Apple added a dash of chrome to the 3D logo. There was an unnecessary strip that ran across it. It looked more premium because of this special touch, but fans of solid colors might not have been impressed.

One reason for this move could be that competitor products didn’t cost as much as Apple’s devices back then. The sophistication in the gradient of the logo positioned it as a premium choice.

The logo also arrived at a point when the brand began focusing on its sustainability actions. Somehow, this logo survived the test of time, lasting a decade.

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6. 2017 to today: Chrome takes the stand


The company reverted to Steve Jobs’ monochromatic color logo, only this time making it chrome instead of jet black.

The latest design is the most versatile in all logo backgrounds and manages to put up quite a light show when it illuminates the backs of laptops.

The versions of the Apple logo design

In today's culture, the Apple logo represents all that is cutting-edge, trustworthy, and fashionable. The logo is a fantastic symbol of Apple's commitment to innovation because it changes as the company does. But could the famous design be reimagined?

Design similar versions of the Apple logo below and take them home for free!

Apple logo variation
Click the image to customize this logo
Apple logo variation
Click the image to customize this logo

Thanks to a few subtle tweaks, we now have not one but two Apple logo variations to take inspiration from.

What does the Apple logo mean?

The Apple logo may have risen to fame because of the company’s successful run over several decades. But this does not take any credit away from the logo itself, which is a masterpiece for minimalists. Here are some stand-out features that make it so.

1. Color

Apple’s logo color journey is a case study on the power of brand colors and their direct implications on the perception of a brand’s logo. The rainbow and metallic logos were designed for specific purposes, but using them on different surfaces was challenging.

Apple has favored its solid-colored logos because they are modern, more adaptable on several surfaces (from their pop-colored iPhones to their metallic MacBook Pros), and strongly emblemize the brand.

2. Icon

There are several debates about why the Apple logo has a chunk missing. Is it a bite taken out, or does it have a more profound meaning? The original version had the wordmark ‘apple’ embedded within it. The curves of the ‘a’ took a bite into the shape of the apple.

The geeks loved it because of the pun on the word “byte.” The missing piece of the Apple logo has been used humorously by competitors of Apple and the brand itself.

3. Layout

Good logo variations explain the function and belief of the brand they represent. Great logos are just visual slogans that do not need words to describe them. They are an identity that is recognizable visually, similar to how the brand’s name is recognized audibly. The Apple logo ditched the wordmark at a point in time when many brands wouldn’t have dared to do so.

Today, the Apple logo is recognizable even in its abstract renditions. It has transformed into a seal of quality and innovation on every product it adorns. To raise the power of the logo even higher, the Apple product line and organization work tirelessly to exemplify excellence.

The fame of the Apple logo is the sum of all these parts.

A blast from the past: The Apple brand evolution and history

Many believe that Apple came to life when a couple of Steves got together to live out their fantasy of technology. But the truth is that it came to pass in February 1955, when Steve Jobs was born to John Jandali and Joanne Carole Schieble in San Francisco.

He was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, who raised him. Soon, events in Steve’s life led to the creation of the technological marvel that we all know as Apple.

Steve Jobs as a child | Source: Medium
Steve Jobs as a child | Source: Medium

Jobs dropped out of Reed College in Portland after citing the meaninglessness of education. He was hired as a video game developer by Atari Corporation. That’s when he showed his penchant for technology and creating human interfaces that were desirable and less intimidating.

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Steve Jobs met his old school friend, Steve Wozniak, and desired to do something spectacular. Wozniak was an employee of Hewlett-Packard, and his work on his logic board inspired Jobs to join him. Together with Ronald Wayne, they founded Apple Computer Inc. in 1976.

The first Apple headquarters began functioning out of Jobs’ garage. Some may wonder why Wayne hasn’t received the accolades that both the Steves have enjoyed. It happened that Wayne (who hand-drew the first Apple logo) left the company with a humble three-figure cash-out.

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (from left to right) | Source
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (from left to right) | Source

When the Apple 1 went on sale for the notorious price of $666, it was a bare-bones structure. Jobs was eager to bring the idea of a personal computer to the masses.

He reached out to angel investors and was awarded an initial investment of $250,000. Steve Jobs was deemed too young to be a CEO by investor Mike Markkula, who held a third of the shares and was replaced by CEO Michael Scot.

The first Apple computer | Source
The first Apple computer | Source

During this time, the computer market witnessed the domination of a product called the Commodore (a name we do not hear anymore). Apple launched the Apple II, which offered a spreadsheet function, complete with calculating abilities. The ability to handle visually friendly spreadsheets shot the Apple II to fame.

The company moved out of the garage and into the facilities of Xerox PARC in 1979. Everyone wanted a slice of the Apple pie; even Xerox offered the founders a new setup space as long as they could get their hands on several hundred shares of the company. The flower was finally growing into fruit.

The Apple III arrived in the ‘80s, facing stiff competition from IBM and Microsoft. Steve Jobs realized that the computer needed a user interface that was more palatable to the masses. Back then, computers still intimidated people.

This move inspired the birth of the Macintosh, which would change the perception of computers around the world. The Macintosh revolution successfully took personal computers to homes.

Apple went public at the end of 1980 with an IPO that made Steve Jobs $217 million richer. By 1983, Apple Lisa entered the foray with more glitter than grit to survive an increasingly price-sensitive market.

Steve Jobs, John Sculley, and Steve Wozniak (from left to right) | Source: CNBC
Steve Jobs, John Sculley, and Steve Wozniak (from left to right) | Source: CNBC

During this time, John Sculley joined the company as CEO. He didn’t have a good experience with Steve Jobs, which led to the latter and his companion, Steve Wozniak, leaving the company. It took nearly a decade for the board to turn on Sculley and fire him in 1993. Even his successor got fired in 1996.

The new CEO, Gil Amelio, moved to buy a company known as NeXT for $429, and with it arrived its founder, who was none other than Steve Jobs.

Back on his throne in 1997, the board made Steve Jobs the CEO of Apple. Now, there was no turning back for this stalwart visionary. It was the age of Microsoft’s operating system, and its Office suite was the envy of Apple.

Steve Jobs made it public that the software would also be created for Apple computers and managed to sign a 5-year contract with Microsoft. Here’s a little trivia for you: the late Internet Explorer was to be the default browser on Apple systems.

The iMac G3, one of the first versions of the Macintosh | Source
The iMac G3, one of the first versions of the Macintosh | Source

1999 saw the arrival of the iMac, which shipped a million units a year, thanks to its attractive color options and translucent build. A couple of years later, the Mac OS X arrived. The operating system was based on the NeXTSTEP operating system, which was the brainchild of Steve Jobs.

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The world thought Apple had reached its absolute peak, when in October of the same year, the iPod arrived with 5GB of storage. A steady stream of improvements followed, from the iPod Shuffle to the iPod Touch.

What followed is history being made, with the arrival of the iPhone in 2007, which packed the brilliance of Apple Inc’s computing, operating system, user interface, and visionary love for design in a package that was and to this day remains irresistible.

Today, Apple makes television sets, runs its OTT, develops audio devices, and is likely to expand into human experience touchpoints we have never imagined. The company holds some unbelievable records when it comes to business success.

Jaw-dropping fun facts about Apple

Apple is a brand with some of the most notable trivia and stories because of the way it operates. Its successes make for wonderful fireside conversations, even among its haters. This reputation, its unprecedented success, and the charismatic people that make it the brand it is today have led to some remarkable stories. Here are ten that piqued our interest:

  • Steve Jobs revealed the first iPhone at 9:41 am. As a result, every iPhone ad to date displays the time as 9:41 am on the phone.
  • Samsung made 30% of the A8 chips used in the iPhone 6. The Korean manufacturer also makes the retina display for the iPad.
  • Back in 2009, Harvard University had an acceptance rate of 7%, while the Apple store in New York had an employee acceptance rate of just 2%. This news came to light in 2009, when 10,000 people applied for a job at the store. Only 200 candidates succeeded.
  • The first iPad to be released was supposed to have a calculator app, but Steve Jobs was unhappy with the design of the app and decided to roll out the tablet without one. Somehow, dropping the calculator app from the iPad became a tradition and is followed to this day.
  • One in every three Apple engineers is an Indian.
  • Ronald Wayne, the third founding member, created the first Apple logo. His logo featured Isaac Newton reading while a precarious apple dangled from the tree above him.
  • A YouTuber named 22plinkster tested the physical resilience of the MacBook Pro against a speeding bullet. The laptop successfully stopped the speeding bullet. Watch it here!
  • 2014 was a phenomenal year for Apple. The company earned more than Google, Facebook, and Amazon’s combined earnings in the first quarter.

    Apple sold 849,450 iPhones per day in 2018.

What are some commonly asked questions about the Apple logo? Get your questions answered with these five FAQs.

1. Why is there a bite out of the Apple logo?

There are many theories going around regarding the logo’s notorious bite. The logo's creator, Rob Janoff, revealed the real reason for the bite. Janoff said he included a bite in the emblem to make it clear that it represents an apple and not a cherry.

2. Is Apple logo the forbidden fruit?

Is the Apple logo a reference to the apple from the tree in the Garden of Eden? There may be some connection to the “tree of knowledge,” as Apple continuously grounds itself on innovation.

Janoff, though, disputes any link to the forbidden fruit. The "bite mark" on the apple, which he describes as a node to "byte," is included to ensure that the logo can be easily identified as an apple rather than a cherry even when scaled to extremely small sizes.

3. What does the Apple logo mean?

Think about why apples are typically gifted to teachers or mentioned in groundbreaking discoveries (like gravity, for example). Apples represent unbound knowledge. The Apple design logo represents our use of their computers to acquire information and, in an ideal world, enlighten humanity.

4. Why did Apple name itself Apple?

According to a biography of Steve Jobs, the name stemmed from Jobs' love of apples. Jobs chose the name because it seemed lively, spirited, and not intimidating. In fact, Jobs even joked that choosing the name Apple would put them ahead of Atari, a large video game market, in the phone book.

5. What is Apple's slogan?

“Think Different.”

Apple has one of the most famous slogans of the twenty-first century: "Think Different." In a television ad from 1997, the concept was initially presented. After its initial airing on television 26 years ago, Apple's "Think Different" slogan is still prominently displayed alongside the company's goods.

Bottom line

Apple is the fruit of great curiosity; a product of two brilliant minds who wanted to stretch the ability of machines and make them more palatable for the masses. Today, Apple’s devices are for the masses. With a market share that dominates the farthest corners of the world, the Californian giants have come a long way in ensuring that their legacy is not compromised by mediocrity.

Apple loyalists may groan and lament whenever they see a new version of their favorite device roll out onto the market without drastic changes from the previous variant. But they hit the buy button online or make their way to the Apple Store for an upgrade on their phones and tablets in any case.

Artists, designers, free-thinkers, and writers all dwell in the Apple ecosystem and thrive in it. It’s like a utopian dream for any other brand that claims to establish its premise around customer-centricity and experience.

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