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 famous logos 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.
8 Famous Logos And Their Stories
For your logo inspiration, read on about eight world-renowned companies and the insightful stories behind their famous logos.
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 famous 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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
Coca-Cola has one of the world’s most famous logos, and it is arguably the most recognizable 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
As far as famous logos 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.”
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.
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.
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.
With Nike having such a striking 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 famous 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.
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.
Not only does FedEx have one of the most famous 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.
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.
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 famous logos?
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:
If you would like to create a unique and strong logo with everything you have learned from these flourishing businesses, check out our logo maker today.
Who knows, you may end up creating one that joins the league of famous logos!