The best brand logos are the ones that look deceptively simple at first glance. In fact, when you get right down to it, they might even give you the “I could have thought of that” impression.
A logo that stands the test of time, however, needs to convey a lot of information into that simple package. It does this by being bold and eye-catching, easy to remember and quickly identifiable in all sizes and in both color and black and white. When you add in the factor that you want the logo to give your clients or customers a sense of your brand’s character and strength, you soon realize that maybe a good logo is not all that simple after all.
If you are thinking about a new logo for your business or about updating your existing logo, you may be struggling with how to convey all you stand for with one image. To help get your creative juices flowing, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the best brand logos of all time. Here in no particular order is our top 10 list:
Designed by Milton Glaser in 1977, the “I Love New York” logo is an iconic symbol that is so popular that it has spawned literally thousands of copyright infringement cases. Although Glaser initially designed the logo for a marketing campaign for New York State, the logo has come to be associated with New York City. A popular design on souvenir t-shirts and mugs, the image became especially popular during the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks when Glaser modified the logo to read “I love NY more than ever.”
Google co-founder Sergey Brin first came up with the idea of a simple, clean design for his search engine company logo back in 1998. Google’s current logo created by Ruth Kedar is an updated version of that original design. The simplicity of the design emphasizes the brand message that Google is easy to use. Google often slightly modifies the logo’s letters to reflect a holiday or major event, such as the Olympics or Mother’s Day.
With its silver color and clean lines, the Mercedes Benz logo does an effective job of conveying just what the company wants buyers to feel about its line of cars. The star-like image not only serves as the company logo, it also is a centerpiece design on every Mercedes-Benz automobile.
Originally the emblem was reserved for commercial vehicles, but in 1952, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL race car featured the symbol in the center of its radiator air intake. The grill of passenger cars soon followed suit as the three-pointed image became a recognizable image for the Mercedes brand.
If you have seen images of the early McDonald’s restaurants, you know that the golden arches were at first more than a logo; they were part of the original building design. In the early 1960s, Jim Schindler, the head of engineering and design for McDonald’s, modified the “V” arches into an “M.” Although the arches have long been dropped from the building design, the distinctive yellow arches are an internationally known image representing the American fast food giant.
Nike founder Phil Knight first called his company “Blue Ribbon Sports,” but in 1971, he decided to rename it in honor of the Greek goddess of victory. Graphic designer Carolyn Davidson in 1971 was thinking of the wings of the goddess when she designed the now famous Nike Swoosh logo. Legend has it that Knight wasn’t sure of the design at first but remarked to colleagues that “it will grow on me.” The swoosh symbol and the “just do it’ slogan have combined to effectively convey Nike’s image as an international sportswear company.
Elegant cursive lettering, known as Spencerian script, in a bold red and white color scheme has made the Coca-Cola logo an enduring classic. Designed by Frank Mason Robinson, the bookkeeper of John Pemberton who formulated the first recipe for Coke in 1885, the Coca-Cola logo is thought to be perhaps the world’s most recognizable logo. The company registered the emblem as a trademark in 1887, and it first appeared in an advertisement in the pages of the Atlanta Journal in 1915.
Graphic designer Jerry Dior has an enduring legacy with his 1968 design for Major League Baseball. The original logo was commissioned to commemorate baseball’s upcoming centennial and to mark the fact that the organization was putting merchandising rights under a new umbrella company. The red, white and blue design more than did the job and continues to tell fans quickly and authoritatively that they are looking at a MLB sanctioned event or merchandise.
The Target “bull’s-eye” is the 1962 brainchild of Dayton’s former publicity director, Stewart K. Widdess, and was intended to help differentiate between Dayton’s department stores and its new discount store chain. The logo was modified in 1968 and remains much the same today. Target further entrenched the logo in 1999 when the familiar red logo encircled the eye of Bullseye, an English Bull Terrier that began appearing on advertisements and commercials.
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) peacock was created to showcase early color broadcasts on the television network. The stylized peacock would precede this announcement: “The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC.” Created by John J. Graham, NBC’s Director of Design, the peacock now is NBC’s corporate logo.
The Starbucks logo is a good one to prove the point that a logo does not have to depict your company’s product to be successful. In a nod to founding city Seattle’s roots as a seaport, the green, white and black design shows a twin-tailed mermaid. Since she first appeared in 1971, the coffee giant has tweaked the crowned mermaid image here and there, and the company website reports that the original inspiration for the design was a 16th century Norse woodcut.
Our runner-up list of top logos includes:
- Fed Ex
- Burger King
What are your favorites? Let us know.