World’s Most Famous Logos And The Stories Behind Them

September 21, 2022
Authored by:
Kari Amarnani
Featuring:

Most of the famous logos we know today are a result of innovative minds, big dreams, and insightful stories. What makes for a successful logo, so much so that they end up achieving global fame? 

A lot of strategic planning goes into creating an impactful logo, but these are some of the critical factors. It should:

  • Be consistently recognizable
  • Reflect your brand’s message and belief system
  • Be unique enough to stand out from the crowd
  • Build trust and reliability between you and your customers
  • Be readable and legible at any size
  • Have a timeless and professional design

It may be daunting to involve several vital principles in a single logo. Rest assured, this is a feat that many renowned brands have accomplished, and it has led to flourishing business gains. 

Markets and demographics are constantly evolving, but the core characteristics of an effective logo remain the same. Typography, brand colors, patterns, and layout have a significant impact on how users perceive your business. 

Knowing the stories behind popular logos and brands can help you refine your branding methods and connect with your target audience.

It is important to note that many of these brands did not achieve fame on their first try, but the determination to roll with the times and consistently build their visual branding has allowed them to come out on top.

Key takeaways:

  • Understanding the history of famous logos can help you shape your own brand identity.
  • An effective logo design needs to be simple, relevant, memorable, timeless, and versatile.
  • There are 31 famous logos that will inspire you to create an impactful design for your brand. Some examples are Apple, Disney, Target, and so much more.
  • Learn about the fun facts of the world’s most famous logos to understand that one’s business journey is full of ups and downs.
  • In spite of initial failures, many now-famous logos succeeded by adapting to changing trends.

31 famous logos and their stories

For your logo inspiration, read on about 18 world-renowned companies and the insightful stories behind their famous logos.

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1. Apple


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It’s fascinating to consider that one of the biggest brands in the world is visually represented by a piece of fruit. 

To this day, there are countless theories on the web about how the company’s popular logo of a bitten apple was created. While the logo has undergone changes to its design over the years, the half-eaten apple has been retained each time.

The most common theory is that the logo is a tribute to the late father of computer science, Alan Turing. It is believed that he had died by suicide using a cyanide-laced apple. People found this to be a fitting gesture by Apple— to commemorate the life of a man who had made their mission of advanced technology possible. 

Though a beautiful story, it is a misconception. 

Steve Jobs named his company Apple because he felt it to be a powerful word, and he was in the middle of an all-fruit diet when he thought of it. Its logo was created by Rob Janoff, who has repeatedly stated to supporters that the logo has no connection to Turing. 

According to Janoff, the reason the apple has a bite taken out of it is so that people wouldn’t confuse it with a cherry. Don’t overthink your logo, folks! Even the simplest backstory can achieve the greatest heights.


2. McDonald’s

The McDonald’s crest is one of the most famous logos for a variety of reasons. It is instantly familiar as it represents more than just a fast-food chain. The logo has transitioned into a cultural icon associated with global expansion, capitalism, and the spread of American culture.

One of the most striking factors of the logo is the golden arches resembling an ‘M.’ When the first franchised McDonald’s restaurant was put up in 1952, the arches were a part of the exterior design of the establishment. 

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Nine years later, those same arches were incorporated into their logo design. Since then, the arches have remained throughout the many logo redesigns the company has had in over 60 years. 

The brand colors of yellow and red were a purposeful direction on the company’s part. Red represented energy and stimulation, while yellow is associated with happiness. Having the arches in yellow also led to its striking visibility, allowing people to spot the McDonald’s crest in an overcrowded road easily.

Overall, McDonald’s proves that the elusive secret recipe in achieving one of the most famous logos in the world is having a perfect union of shapes, colors, and simplicity. With these qualities in unison, it didn’t take much for people to remember such an easy, distinctive, and impactful design.


3. Google

Google has built a powerful monopoly over the search engine market with a statistic of 92.47%— essentially, this is over 60% of the global population. It is only expected that people would remember its logo as it is the first thing that pops up before making a web search.

The Google logo may seem like a simple and colorful wordmark on the surface, but these little details have important stories. Though Google is famous for altering its design according to important days or historical events, its primary imagery has barely changed over the years. 

The logo was first created in 1997 by Larry Page. Since then, Google has made several alterations to the logo, mostly rearranging the order of colors for each letter. These colors have a massive significance to Google’s beliefs, and the process entails much consideration on the company’s part.

In deciding which colors go into the logo, the company’s designers aimed to have a pattern that is accepted and widely recognized, symbolizing Google’s same inherent recognizability as a business. Because Google is globally successful, they felt it wouldn’t be practical to keep the logo entirely conventional.

Google’s mission as a business is to uphold innovation and push boundaries of what is socially acceptable. In a daring effort to show individuality, the company broke traditional color patterns using a secondary color for the letter ‘L.’ 

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Using red, blue, and yellow is quite the conventional match on the color wheel, comprising all three primary hues. The green ‘L’ was a conscious decision on their part to portray Google’s drive to think out of the box. 

👀 A little tip from Google: break the rules if need be, as long as the reasons for it are genuine and organic.

4. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has one of the world’s most popular logos, and it is arguably the most iconic logos one in the world. The brand’s design has undergone several modifications before reaching the one that is current today. Its typography and double ‘C’ characteristic have remained unchanged since 1887.

Coca-Cola - Wikipedia
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Dr. John Pemberton was responsible for creating the brand and its very first logo. He mixed Coca-Cola’s first formula using kola nuts, sugar, extracts of cocaine, and carbonated water. 

The product was to be sold as a brain tonic that would regulate mood and temperament. Years later, the kola nut and cocaine extract would be replaced with citric acid and various fruity flavors. However, Pemberton’s intention has carried on over the years as Coca-Cola retained its core characteristic of a mood enhancer.

His bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, coined the name Coca-Cola, created the typography for the logo, and suggested that the logo feature two capitalized Cs because it would advertise well.

At first, interest in the tonic was very low. Though Pemberton attracted investors, nobody was relatively interested in the product. Soon after, he sold the company and passed away. Coca-Cola went to Asa Griggs Candler, who started putting the formula in bottles and hired Robinson for advertising, using the original logo with all its features.

7 Facts About Coca-Cola's Iconic Bottle
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Today, the typography and capitalized Cs are the same since their origins. Red was chosen as the primary brand color because the bottles needed to be painted red to distinguish them from alcohol during transit. Later on, Coca-Cola’s color would be enhanced using a combination of three different shades of red.

Overall, Coca-Cola’s logo has consistently been successful amidst changes. The company understood what was worth changing and what was important enough to keep— while paying respect to its history and traditions.


5. Subway

Have you ever wondered which restaurant chain has the highest number of establishments? You might think it’s Starbucks, McDonald’s, or Burger King, but guess what? It’s Subway! Subway was founded in 1965 by 17-year old Fred DeLuca.

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Subway had a humble start, and so did its logo. The Subway logo comprised only a wordmark of the company’s name with arrows at the beginning and the end. These arrows would consistently remain throughout every modification as they represented a fundamental aspect of the business.

The arrows are a nod to the entrance and exit of the restaurant, symbolizing its principle of serving food to people who are on the go. Essentially, it’s easy to come in, place your order, and leave with your food. The business also initially catered to the health movement, specifically athletes and people watching their diet.

In 1982, Subway redesigned its logo to a more modern visual while accentuating the arrows. A green submarine shape contained the wordmark, which was now italicized and split between white and yellow. 

In 2016, the logo underwent its last change removing the green submarine and utilizing white space. The Subway title is split once again between yellow and green. The arrows are still present to accentuate their principle of movement.

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“Sub” (which is also another word for a sandwich) is in yellow to represent the color of their products, namely sandwiches which have associations to bread, cheese, and more. “Way” is in green to symbolize health and movement. Together, the logo packs a punch as a telling visual explaining precisely what the business is all about.

6. Amazon

As far as popular logos and brands go, Amazon is a leading example with a humble beginning.

Amazon wasn’t always the all-encompassing platform it is today, having almost every product you can think of up for sale. Initially, it was just an online bookstore, but it has grown immensely over the years and, today, we see movies, electronics, clothing, music, groceries, and even houses!

Since its start as an online bookstore, Amazon has had alterations to its logo— each one representing a facet of growth in its business. In early 1998, Amazon declared itself to be the “earth’s biggest bookstore.”

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At the time, its logo was a depiction of the Amazon river, which is the largest river in the world. The logo represented an infinite and vast flow of knowledge. A few years after its launch, Amazon redesigned the logo and removed the river. Instead, it went with a simple black wordmark and dropped its slogan. 

As Amazon products started to range beyond books, its black wordmark would soon adopt a large gold ‘O’ in its title to represent a globe. This undoubtedly was the most significant change to its logo, eventually leading to its current one today.

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The gold ‘O’ transitioned to a downward curve beneath the title, which had reverted to lowercase. By this time, Amazon was climbing the scales as an efficient marketplace, and they believed the new logo would have a more approachable look for the company. 

This was true until it redesigned its logo for the last time, slightly changing the properties of the slope and achieving a new visual story for its customers. Amazon inverted the downward slope into a smile, with arrows pointing to A and Z on each end.

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This version of the logo is the most symbolic of the brand’s growth over the years— from a bookstore to a marketplace where you could purchase anything you want. The arrows pointing from A to Z represent the company’s ability to provide customers with everything they would ever need.

Today, Amazon needs no slogan, icon, or anything over the top. With over 100 million users, the brand doesn’t need to. This is one of the many perks of what famous logos can do for your establishment.

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7. Nike


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With Nike having one of the most iconic logo, one would think that the brand must have spent thousands of dollars to get it. However, Nike’s story proves that high prices don’t necessarily contribute to having popular logos. What can make for an effective logo is simplicity and a dream.

Nike’s founder Phil Knight wanted a logo that inspired movement and determination. He contacted one of his students, Carolyn Davidson, to help design a logo for the company. Davidson created several samples of the design, and soon enough, Knight chose the logo that represented the wings of the Greek goddess Nike.

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The wings of the goddess led to Nike’s famous logo of the swoosh symbol. Nike is also the Greek goddess of victory, which is a fitting quality for the company’s belief system. In 1971, Knight paid Davidson $35 for the logo— not knowing its eventual impact on society and the business.

By 1983, Nike climbed the ranks as a successful sportswear brand with a logo that was much respected by the general population. The company invited Davidson to an executive dinner in her honor. They awarded her with a diamond ring in the shape of a swoosh and company shares as a token of their appreciation.

The shares given to Davidson are estimated to be worth over a million dollars today. Take on that little project as a budding designer! Who knows, that client may very well be another Nike.


8. FedEx

Not only does FedEx have one of the most popular logos, but it has also won an award for it. In 1971, FedEx was a packaging delivery startup. Over the next couple of decades, FedEx would soon become a powerful logistics company and one of the top courier providers in the world.

FedEx logo and symbol, meaning, history, PNG
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The FedEx logo is most known for its optical illusion using negative space. If you look at the space between the letters E and X, you will spot a white arrow facing right. The arrow is a representation of the company’s mission to deliver speed, accuracy, and perseverance.

The company also uses unconventional brand colors that come together in a unique and effective strategy. “Fed” is in purple, while “ex” is in orange. 

Having both purple and orange is a unique approach not commonly found in other brands. However, the colors work great as a pair in expressing the company’s vision and goals, and it has gone as far as to coin promises based on these colors.

FedEx’s Purple Promise is that its employees will do everything in their power to provide an outstanding experience for their customers. Orange was added to symbolize diversity in the company and its services. 

Placed together, purple and orange exhibit the qualities of prestige, drive, and success— everything FedEx stands for with the bonus of an appealing distinction from its competitors.

9. Facebook

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Facebook is the biggest social media platform globally. Now a subsidiary of Meta, it is hard to believe that the behemoth social media platform started from a humble Harvard dorm room.

Despite the drama and controversies that the company has faced, it remains firm in its beliefs. It also has one of the most famous logos in existence, seen daily by its nearly 3 billion user base.

Facebook’s logo is just a simple write-up of the brand name in lowercase letters. Why lowercase? The style signifies Facebook’s easy-going nature because it is, after all, a casual social media platform to connect with people.

But the color scheme has more of a personal reason for it. Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind, so the color he can see the best is blue. Hence, Facebook’s iconic color scheme of blue and white.

10. Real Madrid

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Real Madrid is the most followed football club worldwide, and its gigantic trophy haul makes it one of the most successful sporting teams in existence. Its rich history and winning spirit have drawn not only the most fans, but also the world's best footballers.

One of the most striking features of the Real Madrid logo is the crown, which was added in 1920 when Alphonso XIII, the King of Spain, granted the club royal status. “Real” translates to “royal” in the Spanish language, and the characteristic shows in the way they play the game and conduct themselves as a team.

Due to a ban on monarchy-related crests in the 1930s, the club removed the crown from its logo. By 1941, the crown returned and certainly complements the team’s royal history.

Apart from the crown, the logo also comprises the brand colors of gold and blue. The gold signifies the club’s dignified status, and the blue, one of the warmest colors, is the team’s way of showing its fanbase undying loyalty.

11. The Rolling Stones

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The Rolling Stones are one of the most iconic brands in existence. Who hasn’t jammed out to Gimme Shelter and (I Can’t Feel No) Satisfaction? Combining genres such as rock and blues, the band has managed to evolve yet retain its greatness since 1962.

The Rolling Stones logo is one of the most famous logos in the world. The iconic tongue and lips logo, also known as Hot Lips, is an homage to the Goddess Kali, a figure of feminine power in the Hindu religion.

Hindu Goddess Kali | Source

Her intense imagery evokes a powerful energy that the band hoped would come across in their logo design.  

The tongue sticking out depicts an act of rebellion and anti-establishment nature that designer John Pasche was going for to represent the band’s personality and lyrics. While they only paid him £50 for his work, the iconic logo eventually built his career and earned him fame of his own.

12. Penguin Books

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Penguin Books, part of Penguin Random House, has been giving readers best-selling literature since its inception in 1935. Penguin Books does it all, from releasing timeless literature via Penguin Classics to launching modern greats. It also has one of the most famous logos in the literary world.

Countless shows and movies have featured and parodied the iconic publishing brand. The most notable example is Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, which brought the logo to life as a stressed anthropomorphic publishing agent!

Edward Young, an employee at the company, sketched the initial design of the logo at the London Zoo in the 1930s. He intended for it to be fun while retaining a sense of realism in the design. Great job, Edward!

While the logo has undergone slight redesigns over the years, none of the visuals have strayed too far from the original, which shows just how apt the original design was.

Penguin has taken their bird theme and expanded it to other categories, such as Pelican Books. The next time you see an adorable bird-themed logo on a book, you can thank Edward for that.

13. PlayStation

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PlayStation, owned by Sony, is the largest video gaming company in the world. PlayStation consoles are present in millions of homes worldwide, and with the release of the Uncharted film, the logo is also making an appearance on the silver screen.

Manabu Sakamoto, the designer behind the PlayStation logo, presented a multitude of designs before finally settling on the official logo for the PlayStation 1. He chose red, green, blue, and yellow to make the design simple and easy to describe to any audience.

The original logo also has an optical illusion, which shows a depth between the P and the S, alluding that the console could play 3D games. Quite an impressive feature for something released in 1994!

While the colors have left the PlayStation logo, the structure remains the same in black and white. The PlayStation logo has been simplified over the years, and it is now one of the most well-known logos in the gaming world and beyond.

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14. The Olympics

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The Olympics is one of the world’s grandest sporting events. Every four years, the best athletes from around the globe gather in one location to exhibit peak physical skills one can only dream of. Viewers can also expect to see the iconic Olympic Rings logo be present at every event.

Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, is the mastermind behind the Olympics logo design. The five rings represent the five parts of the world: the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia.

The rings are merged ‌to represent unity through sport, which helps nations and athletes look beyond boundaries. The Olympics Committee has ingrained this message into every aspect of the organization, from the logo to their advocacies.

15. World Wide Fund For Nature

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Climate change and sustainability are finally at the forefront of conversations worldwide. While we’ve known these concepts for a while, never have we taken them as seriously as we are right now.

For the past 60 years, the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) has been addressing these issues with a single goal in mind: to help people and nature thrive.

WWF’s Panda is instantly recognizable as one of the most famous logos in the world. But why a panda? Why not any other animal or a collection of flora and fauna?

The logo is based on Chi-Chi, a panda at the London Zoo in 1961. For one thing, the black and white panda made the budget for printing much more affordable than a colored mascot. Second, pandas are beautiful and endangered — a fitting symbol for the environment in this day and age.

Incorporating Chi-Chi served both practical and symbolic purposes, and it worked out quite well, as the WWF Panda is a logo that almost anyone can identify!

16. Ferrari

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Ferrari is an extremely aspirational brand, and while only a few people get to own a Ferrari car, the iconic Black Horse logo is known to one and all.

A horse is the perfect representation of a supercar. Horsepower is a common term used in discussions about high-performing cars, but this isn’t why Enzo Ferrari went with it.

Enzo chose the logo as an homage to a pilot and WWI hero, Francesco Baracca, who had a similar horse painted on his plane.

Francesco Baracca | Source

Enzo visited Francesco’s father, who asked him to include the horse in his car. This simple request gave Ferrari one of the most famous logos in existence.

17. Pixar

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Partially founded by Steve Jobs, Pixar is one of Hollywood’s best animation studios. Despite being a part of Disney, Pixar has carved a unique place in viewers’ hearts with quality animation and an even stronger forte for storytelling.

Pixar makes moves that rarely disappoint and draw the most anticipation before their release, like the new movie based on Buzz Lightyear!

Theater-goers know exactly what they’re in for when they see an emotive lamp hopping across the screen. The lamp is the protagonist of one of Pixar’s earliest projects, a 1986 short film named Luxo Jr.

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Pixar's Luxo Jr. won audiences’ hearts, critical acclaim, and a permanent spot as part of Pixar’s logo. The animated version of the logo and its goofy undertones show that Pixar is the master at creating memorable characters that people can’t help but fall in love with.

18. Baskin-Robbins

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Baskin-Robbins is one of the world’s largest ice cream companies, with stores in 50 countries across the globe. It also has one of the most famous logos in the food industry.

Baskin-Robbins has changed its logo quite a few times over the years. The latest iteration was released in April 2022, which reduced the playfulness through font and color scheme changes. The blue and pink, which had been utilized since 1991, were changed to a brown and pink combo that the brand had used when it was first created in 1947!

Talk about going back to your roots.

There’s also a hidden detail in the logo that captures the brand’s identity. Isolate the pink part of the logo, and you’ll find the number 31. The number has been present in every version of the logo and symbolizes their original 31 flavors. It also represents the desire to give customers the option to try a unique flavor every day of the month.

While the company has thousands of flavors now, the number holds a special place in the brand’s heart. Even at the heights of success, never forget where you came from.

💡 Discover the interesting history behind the Baskin Robbins logo and brand here.

19. Starbucks

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Have you ever wondered what inspired the Starbucks logo to include a mermaid’s image as an emblem? The famous logo originated in 1971 and has a history in the maritime. The first Starbucks restaurant appeared in Portland, around an area fringed by the ocean. As a result, the logo was conceived and is supposed to denote a double-tailed siren (or mermaid).

The famous logo traces its roots to 16th-century Nordic origins. In 1987, Terry Heckler transformed the original logo. Heckler transformed the mermaid into a goddess, something that seemed disconnected from all things coffee. The emblem was contemporary for its time, was still cluttered, and had several elements that made it look crowded. Other coffee shops of the time were sporting their modern looks and using a more minimal branding approach.

Starbucks dropped elements of the logo that surrounded the siren. The logo lost the text used for the name, the stars, and the iconic circle placeholder inside which the siren dwelled. This came from the realization that the Starbucks logo was powerful enough to stand on its own and to have only the siren as the central character representing the brand.

Lippincott, a design company, was assigned the rebranding exercise. They went on to give the siren a more human look and create logo examples that suited various digital applications, where it now proudly resides.

💡 Learn more about the fascinating Starbucks logo and brand here.

20. Disney

We’ve all grown up on the myth that the Disney logo bears the actual signature of Walt Disney, which isn’t entirely true. Walt Disney was a charismatic person whose signature kept changing. The signature on today’s Disney logo is one of the many signatures of the man that has been stylized for its application as a logo.

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Disney’s famous logo inspired several generations of children growing up. The logo is a celebration of happiness and fond memories. Whether it manifests in the form of Disneyland or Walt Disney Pictures, each rendition is celebratory and creates a sensation of boundless joy for all ages.

The logo was introduced in 1995 at Disney Castle. This logo was static but still loved by everyone. Cut to 2006, and Pixar added their magical touch to the logo, bringing it to life with a memorable animation.

The wordmark appears as a stylized signature of Mr. Disney, which is complemented by a magical castle. This logo successfully attracts the brand’s target audience to believe in a magical land of promise and excitement.

💡 Discover interesting facts about the Disney logo and its history here.

21. Airbnb

Some of us find the shape of the Airbnb logo to be awkward and somewhat cumbersome. Somehow, it has stood the test of time because of its uniqueness and stubbornness to avoid change.

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The logo has been through a whirlwind of change over the last two decades, finally settling on its present form. The company began as an experiment to make some extra money, with the founders lending a sleeping area in their San Francisco apartment to travelers who couldn’t find accommodation because of high demand.

The clever idea of calling their service Air Bed & Breakfast at the time is still appreciated. The 2007 logo represented the idea in full text. By 2008, this was swiftly course-corrected, and the logo appeared as a single word. The font was in the running handwriting style and still looked less like a serious business that required customers to place their trust in its services.

The famous logo from 2014 is the fruit of design philosophies that manifested practically.

💡 Want to create your own Airbnb logo as strong as the original? Get started right here.

22. Mercedes-Benz

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The Mercedes-Benz star logo is one of the most recognizable logos on automobiles. The iconic 3-pointed star has been around for over a century and has shaved off several design elements to become the minimalist ornament it is today.

The Mercedes emblem on the car’s front facade doesn’t need a call-out or a label because nearly everyone is familiar with it. The three points of the star represent the three key elements that drive the automobile industry: air, land, and sea. The founders paid homage to this unique emblem as a mark of respect for their father, who would mark their home with the symbol.

The font used on the wordmark offers flexible usage on the brand’s web properties and online communication. Mercedes-Benz ads are recognizable because of the font alone. If you remove the image of the car and all brand mentions from a Mercedes ad, the font of the headline itself will give the brand away. Here’s one famous logo that has arrived in style.

Recently, the logo has been used to convey messages that are more than just about the automotive excellence of the brand.

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23. National Geographic

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The vertical rectangle of National Geographic is among the most famous logos. Simply calling it a yellow rectangle does not do the brilliance of this logo much justice. It is so well associated with the brand that National Geographic has rolled out several campaigns in the past where the logo appeared without the wordmark and still managed to be recognized by nearly everyone who saw it.

The logo design was by an agency called Chermayeff & Geismar. It comprises a yellow rectangular box with the words “NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC” forming the wordmark below it. Several stories have been floating around, trying to speculate on the origin and inspiration of the logo. Some claim the logo is yellow to represent the sun and its reach, just like the magazines that spread across continents.

Another belief states that the logo is rectangular to represent the National Geographic magazine, bringing it to mind instantly. The magazine prided itself on some of the most stunning captures of natural and human wonders, and the unfilled yellow border of the logo formed a picture frame around any subject.

This logo is proof that you can begin with a logo that is as generic as can be, but if it fits the context of your business, you have created a masterpiece.

24. GAP

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Fashion brand GAP has had some see-saw moments with its logo. Like every brand that has changed its logo over time, the company wanted to give its classic logo a unique touch in 2010 and believed this would help improve sales. However, this backfired, and GAP quickly switched back to its original logo in under a week.

It is insightful how passionately consumers revolted against this change in a brand they loved so much. While many may claim that the 2010 debacle was tragic for the brand, it is a testimony of how important it is to have a logo that inspires customers to such an extent that they set out to protest against any change.

The GAP logo arrived in 1969 with the words “THE GAP” as the wordmark. The wordmark changed in 1984 when the famous logo lost the ‘the’ and introduced the blue box.

25. Mastercard

You take finance, lifestyle, design aesthetic, and emotions, bundle them up in a well-held campaign, and unleash them on the masses for decades — that’s Mastercard. The credit card of today knows no rules, but back in the day when Mastercard was taking its first few strides into the wallets of every eager consumer, it was still a new concept.

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The brand settled for a simple yet impactful logo in two overlapping circles, one yellow and one red. The Mastercard logo has become synonymous with every financial transaction involving credit cards. Mastercard’s communication has always been about a balance between moments that money can and cannot buy. The brand found itself in the coveted sweet spot between both worlds, and this famous logo demonstrates it perfectly.

Both circles intersected for the first time in 1968, one red and the other yellow, and until today, they have continued in this fashion, forming one of the most widely recognized financial logos the world has seen.

26. Tesla

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How could a brand that didn’t come from any car-building lineage change how we looked at cars forever? Tesla Motors did the impossible by offering a once-niche electric car experience with superiority in design and by christening itself in honor of (arguably) the most celebrated scientist to have ever lived.

Tesla’s famous logo looks like a ‘T’ whether you view it abstractly or literally. You can sense the soaring ambitions of the company in the logo because the T looks like it is bound skywards. Nicola Tesla, whose name inspired the name of the brand, was a pioneer in electricity and its early applications.

It may surprise you that the brand was not founded by Elon Musk but by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003. Musk joined the board in 2004.

The company claims that the logo represents the cross-section of an electric motor. Autopi.io says, “The main body of the "T" represents one of the poles that protrude from the rotor of a motor, while the second line on top represents a piece of the stator.” Ingenious!

💡 Learn new and intriguing information about the Tesla brand and logo here.

27. Target

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Some brand logos may seem to be rather obvious. But it isn’t always so. Target experienced an evolution over time, sometimes too subtle for the average Joe to notice. They cracked the concentric circle trick back in 1962 but decided to keep evolving the brand’s famous logo to suit the needs of an increasingly demanding world.

The brand decided to move the name out of the circle mnemonic in 1968 and then went on to drop the wordmark entirely. To date, this has been the standard usage of the logo. There’s also a logo variation in which the wordmark is represented in small caps and stacked under the circles.

The Target logo has experienced minimal design changes and has only been subject to variations along the way. The Dayton Company launched target in 1962 to sell discounted items. There were 200 names and emblems discussed before the team decided to settle on Target as the name.

💡 Read up on the fascinating backstory around the Target logo and brand here.

28. Rolls-Royce

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In this case, we may not be talking about the famous logo of Rolls-Royce with two ‘R’s, which are arranged one before the other. We’re here to tell you the story of the mythical emblem of the luxury car company — the Spirit of Ecstacy. It manifests as the hood ornament on Rolls-Royce cars and is considered one of the most stolen car ornaments of all time.

The lust for this gleaming damsel has been so intense that the company has made special provisions to retract her into the hood when the car is not in motion. So, what is the story behind this mysterious little lady?

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The mascot for Lord Montagu’s Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was to be created by illustrator and sculptor Charles Sykes. He named his creation “The Whisper” as it denoted the woman holding a finger to her lips. Some say it is to indicate the quietness of the engine.

Others attributed it to an alleged affair between Lord Montagu and his secretary. Soon, other Rolls-Royce owners got inspired by Lord Montagu’s idea and began making their own emblems.

To standardize how every car looked, the Managing Director of the company at the time, Claude Johnson, commissioned Sykes to create a rendition of The Whisper and make it a permanent fixture on every Rolls-Royce car.

And so, we have the Spirit of Ecstasy. It denotes a woman bent forward with her arms and flowing clothing stretched behind her, as if she is about to take flight. The emblem has lived on through decades and today adorns the company’s Instagram page in the post-modern world.

29. NASA

The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics was christened NASA in 1958. The American organization achieved things that the world had only imagined. It was important for such an organization to have its own distinguishing characteristics, which inspired the birth of the famous logo.

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The logo was called the ‘meatball’ and was designed in 1959 by NASA employee James Modarelli. It comprised all the ingredients of an American space program, from planetary graphics to the red-white-and-blue and a wordmark within it.

After the meatball came the ‘worm’ logo. It was a wordmark logo that used a stylized font and was considered futuristic. The unique typography of the logo gave it a hint of minimalism after an excessively busy meatball logo.  

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NASA decided to resurrect the meatball several years after the worm in an attempt to be associated with the memories of legendary moments, like the moon landing. It seems to have worked, with youngsters proudly donning the classic design on their t-shirts.

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30. Instagram

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The story of Instagram’s famous logo perfectly reflects the timeline of photography;  the journey from the humble Polaroid camera to front-facing cameras on phones. This captivating tale begins with the first Instagram logo, which drew its inspiration from the Polaroid camera.

The camera depicted in the 2010 logo had a rainbow band running from the top to the bottom with the word “Instagram” written in an illegible font. The logo wasn’t designed by designers but by the founders themselves.

The logo that followed was more minimal and retained the rainbow band. One can notice how the brand name mentioned on the logo is simply ‘INST.’ After a brief revision, the brand decided to create a logo that was more logo, less illustration. In 2016, Instagram announced a minimal version of the logo as a bold graphical gradient to represent an abstract camera.

The 2016 logo seems to have stuck well with the newer generation, who like minimalism with vividness. Instagram made a minor tweak to the logo’s colors recently. The brand moved from showing a polaroid camera to a phone camera since it is known to have thrived on selfies shot by its users.

31. Rolex

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The Rolex logo is an illustration of brand confidence. They simply crowned themselves as the best watchmakers ever, and their logo represents this plainly with a crown. Rolex has come to be known as ‘The Crown.’

The brand has found its success in the luxury segment as much as it has found it in sports. The Crown dominates branding signage and perimeter boards at some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events. Rolex was founded by 24-year-old Hans Wilsdorf in 1905. It was only in 1908 that the erstwhile W&D watches got branded as Rolex.

In seven years, the holding company changed its name to Rolex. Today, the famous logo is coveted by many eager hands because it is a mark of excellence and accomplishment.

The Rolex logo hasn’t seen much of a change since its introduction. The application of the logo kept getting more modern and minimalist to suit marketing efforts. Rolex has adorned some of the most celebrated adventurers, including divers and mountaineers.

10 fun facts about the world's most famous logos

1. When the Nike branding team settled on the swoosh, Knight said he “didn’t love it, but it will grow on me.”

2. The first McDonald’s restaurant was opened by Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1937. But it was in 1952 when the arches were first introduced to the brand.

3. The famous lettermark logo was created by Gucci’s son, Aldo, to represent his father’s initials. To further highlight its extravagance, the Gucci logo is also said to symbolize the links of a bracelet.

4. This famous script logo of Coca-Cola was designed by the founder’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, who said that the two “C”s would look fabulous in advertising.

5. The original logo of Instagram was designed by its CEO, Kevin Systrom, himself.

6. The brand colors of Dove (white, blue, and an intensified gold) are meant to evoke feelings of tenderness, clarity, and luxury. These are all great visions for a company that was a pioneer in using “real women” in their ads.

7. The yellow color in National Geographic's logo is said to represent the sun, which shines everywhere around the world, much like the channel’s global reach.

8. Because of its similarity to the Olympic rings, Audi was sued by the International Olympic Committee in 1995 at the International Trademark Court. Audi won the case.

9. The Apple symbol we know today was the only option produced by Janoff. Since Apple was a startup at the time, there was no design brief and no time or money for an alternative.

10. Lego’s name is derived from an abbreviation of the Danish words, “leg godt,” meaning “play well.”  Even as kids, logo associations begin to form in our tiny little brains.


The characteristics of famous logos

A logo is a core requirement of any business’s branding, as it is usually one of the first visual brand elements that most potential customers see.

There are various factors that go into logo design, and they tend to change depending on your brand and the industry you operate in. Even then, some of the popular logos and brands share five main characteristics, no matter the differences that make them unique.

So, what are some characteristics of famous logos?

  1. Simple - they aim to communicate one key message (instead of ten).
  2. Relevant - they're aligned with their industry and their mission/vision.
  3. Memorable - they're so simple and effective that they're easy to remember.
  4. Timeless - they stand the test of time and trends and never lose their meaning. For example, Coco Chanel, Versace, and Dolce and Gabbana.
  5. Versatile - they can be easily adapted, whether it's a tiny banner, a large billboard, or a black and white background.

These five qualities make a logo instantly recognizable, and ensure that when consumers look at it, they’ll connect with your brand.

Frequently asked questions: 4 popular FAQs about the world’s most famous logos

What are some commonly asked questions about the world’s most famous logos? Get your questions answered with these four FAQs.

1. What was the first logo ever made?

The Bass Brewery trademarked the first corporate logo in 1876. It had a red triangle with the word "Bass" written in flowing cursive, akin to the Coca-Cola logo.

2. Can a brand have 2 logos?

Sure, but it depends. A secondary logo's orientation (vertical or horizontal) depends on the nature of the business. Secondary logos are variations on the main one, and they are typically simplified, stacked versions of the main logo.

3. What is a good logo?

An effective logo is one that stands out from the competition while also being unique, relevant, functional, graphic, and basic in design. An effective logo is usually built around a central concept or "meaning" that conveys the organization's values and goals to the target audience.

4. What is the most famous brand in the world in 2022?

An estimated $355.1 billion in 2022 makes Apple the most valuable brand worldwide. Amazon, the world's second most valuable brand, was estimated to be worth over $254.2 billion.

Bottom line

Ending up with one of the most famous logos in the world is no simple task, but these businesses sure do prove that it is possible. 

There is a reason that these logos have achieved world-class fame, and it is because they stood the test of time and fought their way into public consciousness. Companies can reach high levels of growth and popularity based on their logo, so what’s the secret of these popular logos and brands? 

Many successful logos take on a minimalistic approach with a strong story behind them. Sometimes what you depict between the lines can be more powerful than what you outright display. A good rule of thumb is to keep your logo:

  • Simple
  • Versatile
  • Memorable 
  • Relevant
  • Distinctive

If you would like to create a unique and strong logo with everything you have learned from these flourishing businesses, check out our free logo maker today.

Who knows, you may end up creating one that joins the league of famous logos!

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