20 Interesting Cases of Logo Evolution

by: Esteban On  Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Tags:  Business   Graphic Design   Logos  

logo evolution

Everyone knows it’s important for a successful business to have a good logo—something clear and recognizable that is synonymous with whatever it is you do. However, companies don’t always start off with the perfect design. Sometimes it takes years or even decades to perfect a good logo to the point where, to use the case of Nike, a simple swoosh is synonymous with sneakers and sports equipment. So today we’re taking a look at how some of the most famous logos in the world have evolved over the years. In some cases, the evolution has been positive. In other cases, you might say the logos devolved rather than evolved. But either way, it’s interesting to see how they all started out. So have a look.

20. Google

20 google logo evolution

It’s hard to imagine life without Google now, so it’s hard to believe that the internet behemoth has only been around since 1998. But it’s true and, as you can see, the logo hasn’t really changed all that much. It’s still just a plain font spelling the company name in different colors. You might have that they’d find a way to spice it up a bit by now.

19. Microsoft

19 Microsoft logo evolution

After a couple of moderately interesting logos in the mid-70s, Microsoft had the same plain italics logo for over 20 years. Finally, just this month, they revealed a new logo. And it’s…really boring. All they did was make the flying multicolored window not flying anymore, and made the font even more plain. Way to go nuts, guys.

18. Apple

18 apple logo evolution

This is the best example of the maxim, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.” Though apple has made slight adjustments to their classic logo over the years, the same basic shape has remained. The Apple logo is also a good example of why Apple is “cool” and Microsoft is not—they’re logo doesn’t just consist of a plain font spelling the company name. Of course, another example of why Apple is cool and Microsoft is not would be the iPhone.

17. BMW

17 BMW logo evolution

They got a little wacky in the 1970s, but other than that, these Germans have stuck to the traditional blue and white logo. Sure, they made adjustments here and there—different fonts and colors for the BMW lettering, a little three dimensional shading—but this is one of the most consistent logos we’ll see on the list.

16. Canon

16 Canon logo evolution

Canon has a very distinctive script for their logo that can be traced back to the 1930s. So there is some tradition here. Nevertheless, the logo is pretty bland for such a major company. I’m surprised they never came up with anything more interesting.

15. Volkswagen

15 Volkswagen logo evolution

Volkswagen was founded in 1937 and somehow managed to survive WWII. Interestingly, as you can see, their original logo seems to resemble a swastika. Maybe they were trying to suck up the the Fuehrer. In any case, they soon ditched the flying wings and went with the sprocket, and not long after that they arrived at the basic logo they still use today.

14. General Electric

14 GE logo evolution

General Electric was founded in 1892 by, among others, Thomas Edison. And after their very first, hard-to-read logo, they’ve had the same design ever since. In fact, no other logo on the list has remained so consistent.

13. Nike

13 NIKE logo evolution

Nike’s classic “swoosh” was designed by a woman named Carolyn Davidson in 1975 for just $35. Supposedly the company founders were too thrilled with it at first, but they obviously made a wise choice by sticking with it. Eventually it became so recognizable they that could drop the company name from the log altogether. Now that’s brand identity.

12. Nokia

12 Nokia logo evolution

Nokia was founded in Finland way back in 1865. Obviously, they didn’t make cell phones then. Instead, it was a pulp mill company. Eventually industrialization happened, however, and the company turned their sites to new things. That led them to where they are today: a company that makes cell phones that nobody buys anymore. But at least their interesting history makes for an interesting logo evolution.

11. Mercedes-Benz

11 Mercedes-Benz logo evolution

Mercedes-Benz is another company who’s symbol because so well known that they were eventually able to just drop the words from their logo altogether. I mean, who doesn’t know what that symbol represents?

10. Kodak

10 Kodak logo evolution

Kodak was founded as Eastman Kodak in 1889, hence the original logo. In fact, they never officially dropped the Eastman from the name. It’s just that everyone just starting calling it Kodak after a while. Sadly, this history company has had a tough time transitioning out of the film business, so right now they face an uncertain future.

9. IBM

9 IBM logo evolution

IBM started out in 1911 as CTR—the Computing Tabulating Recording Company—which specialized in counting machines and other such business tools. In 1924, they changed their name to International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM. And in 1947, they came up with the logo that’s been around in one form or another ever since.

8. Ford

8 Ford logo evolution

As you can see, that iconic Ford script goes all the way back to 1909, with the little loop in the F coming in by 1912. All the stuff around the script has changed, of course, from from an Eagle, various ovals, and even a diamond-like shape. But that’s still some serious continuity.

7. Shell

7 Shell logo evolution

The Shell we know today was created in 1907 when the Royal Dutch Petroleum company merged with “Shell” Transport and Trading Company Limited. Obviously, its Shell Transport’s logo from 1900 that’s displayed here. That company was named in honor of its founders’ father, who had owned a company than imported and exported sea shells. In any case, as you can see, since 1955, the Shell logo has been pretty much the same.


6 LEGO logo evolution

LEGO goes all the way back to 1932. However, they didn’t make their famous interlocking plastic building block, which were originally called “Automatic Binding Bricks,” until 1949. (They basically stole the idea from another toy company called Kiddicraft.) As you can see, that distinctive rounded italics font LEGO uses goes back to 1953.

5. Fiat

5 FIAT logo evolution

Fiat’s logo has varied quite a bit over the years. However, with just one exception (the 1968 version), the Italian car company has always used the same distinctive font to spell the company name. Oh, and by the way, if you’ve seen a few Fiats in your neighborhood recently, that’s because they bought 20% of Chrysler back in 2009, giving them access to the North American market. Today their interest is up to 62%.

4. Walmart

4 Walmart logo evolution

Today Walmart has dropped the hyphen and come up with a sleek modern logo. However, it’s going to take a while to get over years of logos apparently designed to appeal to country folk. Those logos from the 60s were especially bad, weren’t they? I know the company is based in Arkansas, but it those logos made them look like a company that sells chicken feed or something.

3. Pepsi

3 Pepsi logo evolution

Wow, that 1898 Pepsi logo must have been designed by somebody on opium. Of course, eventually that morphed into the gorgeous 1940 logo, which is clearly their best of all time. After that Pepsi incorporated their trademark red, white, and blue cap into the logo. That was fine at first, but unfortunately it’s turned into that goofy thing we have today.

2. Warner Brothers

2 Warner Brothers logo evolution

From 1972 to 1984, Warner Bros. had that strange W logo. Other than that, they’ve had some version of the WB crest ever since the motion picture studio was founded back in 1918. Even that 1967 version kept the semblance of the WB crest in tact.

1. Starbucks

1 Starbucks logo evolution

At #1 on our list of interesting logo evolutions, we have everyone’s favorite purveyor of high-end caffein, Starbucks. As you can see, Starbucks has followed the trend of dropping words in favor of highly recognizable symbols in the newest version of their logo. This is a wise move for a number of reasons, but mostly because it allows Starbucks to develop other sides of their business. Who knows, in 40 years we could be buying Starbucks furniture, or Starbucks appliances. After all, Nokia used to sell wood pulp.