The Super Mario Logo & Brand: A Nostalgic Blast From The Past

April 25, 2023

By: Gareth Mankoo

The Super Mario Logo & Brand: A Nostalgic Blast From The Past

Arguably the most popular and recognized video game character in history, Super Mario’s fame has transcended generations. As an early entrant into the global frenzy of video games, the dedicated plumber has won the hearts of gamers across gaming formats.

From having trade-offs with friends for Nintendo cartridges to picking out Air Jordan x Blue just because it bears the logo's brand colors. The world has come a long way in demonstrating its allegiance to the character.

The endearing tale of Super Mario continues in the hyper-digitalized world. Here’s the story of its logo—the identity that set Super Mario apart and made it a badge of honor for fans of all ages.

Super Mario was founded as a brand in 1985 by Nintendo in Japan. The mega-selling video game series became more popular than any game. The journey of Super Mario overcoming obstacles to rescue Princess Peach from the monstrous antagonist, Bowser.

The Super Mario logo drew inspiration from the objectives and gameplay to create an identity that gamers would resonate with. It also remained consistent with the 2D aspect of the game. The logo design saw one revision, which was not significant but was more modern.

1996 to 2011: An assembly of colors

1996-2011
1996-2011

The 1996 logo draws inspiration from the 1990s Super Mario World. Each alphabet in the logo was of a different color. The makers split the name into two and represented it as a stacked logo. The SUPER was slightly smaller than the MARIO.

Four colors alternated across the characters of the logo. The P and R coincided in between each word and were in yellow. S and I were in the red. Both letters were placed toward opposite ends to create a sense of balance. U, E, and M were blue and more towards the left, which was counter-weighted by the R, A, and O that occupied the right.

The brilliance of balance in the logo is admirable. Even with so many colors in the brand name and some needing to appear twice in the same word, the designers managed to create a well-balanced logo. Each letter had a black outline set against a gray shadow to add depth to the logo.

A noticeable aspect of the font is its geometric shape. It represented the 2D graphics of the games. The font choice was deliberately made to represent the obstacles and climbs that Super Mario has to go through before he reaches Princess Peach.

The chaos of disproportions in the first Super Mario logo created the fun, unpredictable sensation that the game demonstrated.

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2011 to today: Bold colors win

2011-current
2011-current

The first Super Mario logo represented the game for fifteen years. The new Super Mario 3D Land launched soon after, and the logo needed to be tweaked. The primary colors remained the same but were shuffled around with the same discipline that ensured the balance of the first logo.

The S and I were now in blue, U and Rs were in yellow, A, E, and O were in green, while the P and the M were in red text color.

There was a minor correction of the shape of the letters too. The O went from a heptagon to an octagon; the A was straightened up, the M was improved to match the symbol on Super Mario’s hat, the I became less trapezoidal, and so on.

The new logo was made to be finer than the first version. The shadow got darker and more prominent, which led to the alphabets interacting with one another better. There were several contact points and overlaps across the logo.

The impact of the Super Mario logo today

Source: Nintendo
Source: Nintendo

The Super Mario logo inspired the creation of the Super Mario 256 font. It comprises irregular polygons that naturally look like fun. A key differentiator in the logo is the unique color scheme.

Source: FontSpace
Source: FontSpace

The logo served the brand well, giving it a unique perspective. It precedes a more charismatic, irreverent style. Today, games are more sophisticated and border on seriousness. The Super Mario logo still carries its essence of fun.

Super Mario featured in several games, from kart racing to golf, and over the years, the character grew gamers with different tastes. Even grown-ups — those who the adorable plumber has inspired since childhood — flaunt the colors and font of the logo boldly.

The LOGO.com versions of the Super Mario logo design

The Super Mario logo is instantly recognizable all over the world and is sometimes cited as the most renowned gaming emblem of all time.

You undoubtedly know everything there is to know about the game and that iconic, colorful, and dynamic logo, even if you've never delved into the history of the Super Mario logo before today or pondered where the classic design came from.

But could the famous design be reimagined?

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

Super Mario logo variation
Click the image to customize this logo
Super Mario logo variation
Click the image to customize this logo

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

The reason behind the Super Mario logo colors

The four primary colors that define the Super Mario logo have become a legend. The clever distribution of color from character to character is impressive and a lesson in balance for any budding designer. The black shadow has added a ‘closed logo’ aspect to the unit, which seemed disjointed in its 1996 avatar.

While Mario primarily dons red and blue, his brother, Luigi, wears green and red. Bowser is all yellow. Thus, the game's characters cleverly demonstrate the logo's colors.

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A brief history on the Super Mario franchise

The roots of the Super Mario franchise can be traced back to 1981 when Donkey Kong made an entry as an arcade game.

Super Mario’s first avatar as “Jumpman” showed up with his mustache and jumpsuit complete with the hat. The pre-Nintendo era was dominated by Gameboy, and Donkey Kong took the world by storm.

Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

The first dedicated Mario Bros. arcade game was launched in 1983, which cast Super Mario as the hero. To be true to the game's name, it featured Mario and Luigi. Following this release were Mario’s Cement Factory and Pinball.

The big moment was in 1985 when Super Mario Bros. was released. Mario consumed the mushroom and grew magically to take on his rivals and annoying turtles. He even threw fireballs to eliminate enemies, making him far more formidable than he used to be.

Source: Nintendo
Source: Nintendo

Mario Golf, Wrecking Crew, Punch Out, Dr. Mario, Mario Paint, and Super Mario Kart followed over the next few years, with Mario taking on new roles and winning new challenges. It was the expansion phase for the franchise as gamers began seeing their favorite protagonists across gaming categories and not just arcade games.

The company deliberately chose different looks and styles for its sub-entity games' logos and game packaging. They helped differentiate the main game from the rest.

Source: Ecran Partage
Source: Ecran Partage

Super Mario’s logo and identity were maintained to give it a leg up over the competition and to be positioned as an overall branding of the franchise rather than just a one-off game.

Today, when a fan dons a Super Mario-themed hat, they pay homage to the entire line of games launched with Mario at the center.

What are some commonly asked questions about the Super Mario logo? Get your questions answered with these three FAQs.

1. Why is Mario called Jumpman?

The character was first referred to simply as "Jumpman" due to his need to constantly jump over obstacles. Donkey Kong was the main attraction back then, but "Jumpman" (Mario) had yet to gain widespread popularity.

2. What is the Super Mario font called?

Highway Gothic is a sans serif typeface designed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the United States. Super Mario Bros. uses it for in-game text.

3. Is Super Mario a trademark?

Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985 and has remained under copyright ever since. In the case of a company, the copyright term is for the shorter of 120 years from creation or 95 years after publication. In this case, Nintendo retains ownership of the game, and hence Mario, until 2080.

Bottom line

Super Mario has come a long way from a pixelated, 8-bit game. Today, you can enjoy a Mario game in full 3D splendor on different gaming consoles and mobile phones. He plays tennis in one game and stars in a movie of his own across the world's cinemas.

The story of an Italian plumber is what kids grow up with, sometimes narrated by their parents. In 2020, the Super Marios 3D All-Stars game was launched. It received favorable reviews and proved that the game still had takers.

The Super Mario logo embodies and emblems of the franchise's longevity. Today, it has become a retro symbol of fun and gaming — with the goal of Super Mario to overcome obstacles and save the princess from the high tower — because “anything is possible, you just gotta believe in it.”

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