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October 7, 2008 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Evolution of Corporate Logos
posted by gwint (76 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
via Very Short List
posted by gwint at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2008


The Boeing ones don't seem to evolve so much as wibble about all over the place.
posted by Phanx at 8:58 AM on October 7, 2008


I find it charming that old-guard companies like Texaco could have the same logo for fifty years while one of Google's logos is listed here as being in use "September-October 1998."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:58 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Shell should go back to their very first logo. "Here at Shell, we know our hastily-scrawled clams."
posted by Greg Nog at 9:01 AM on October 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Metafilter -> MeFi -> Mefi -> Meh

Sorry, just being a smartass, I think this is interesting.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:05 AM on October 7, 2008


You know, I read that as "corporate Legos" and I was intrigued. Then disappointed. That's not to say this isn't a good post–it's just that I was expecting interlocking colored blocks arranged to represent corporate mission, vision, values BS. You see how that can be disappointing.
posted by Mister_A at 9:09 AM on October 7, 2008


That first Palm "abacus" logo was smart. The de-evolution of that logo is pretty sad.
posted by JBennett at 9:09 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sony started off really boring and then got more boring. Then, incrementally more boring,
posted by Mister_A at 9:11 AM on October 7, 2008


What is the significance of the white wedge in the 'o' of the current Microsoft logo?
posted by lyam at 9:16 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Will someone please explain Nationwide Insurance's logo? It's a box. (Evolution of the logo)
posted by ALongDecember at 9:18 AM on October 7, 2008


Fun post.

I wish the current logos didn't mostly look like the belong on an Apple desktop. I just never liked that 3D polished gleam thing that many companies have going.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:18 AM on October 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, a box has sides. Nationwide has sides. Nationwide is a box. The box is on your side. Your side is starting to ache. Nationwide is crushing your kidney a little bit.

See?
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on October 7, 2008 [12 favorites]


My god, I never realized the "M" in the Mazda logo until now.
::facepalm::
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:22 AM on October 7, 2008


I'd just like to say I miss NASA's worm logo.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:23 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


What is the significance of the white wedge in the 'o' of the current Microsoft logo?

Really works well, huh?
posted by mandal at 9:24 AM on October 7, 2008


It's interesting to watch the more raster formats become vectorized, and the extermination of cursive and/or scripty looking fonts. Less colors, less shading, unless it's the shiny button effet. It all looks better as a 50x50 bitmap. Survival of the least-printing-cost/most-recognizable has seemed to drive everything to the same look, with only tiny improvements at the end.

Reuters - These days, jellyfish fear us.

IBM - We're fading away

Mastercard - Can we make this just two spot colors?

CBS - We're watching you. We're watching you. Aren't you ... *sniff* ... watching us?

Peugeot - The evolution of ... LIONMAN
posted by adipocere at 9:26 AM on October 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


I like the dead pixels in Microsoft's 1975 logo.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:26 AM on October 7, 2008


lyam: It may be meant to evoke the arm of a hard drive, much as the old logo's o was a stylized floppy disk.
posted by jedicus at 9:26 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would love to see some of these on modern products; One of these bad-ass sport-bikes with a 1934 piano logo would be so cool, or a new phone with the fish head?

Brilliant.

At the very least, I want the first Apple logo on my next Macbook. That would be legitimately cool.
posted by quin at 9:27 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is a really amazing history lesson. Particularly the scary first VW logo (master race-owned and operated!) and Canon apparently being named after the goddess of mercy (but nobody could manage that pesky "W"?)
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 9:27 AM on October 7, 2008


Will someone please explain Nationwide Insurance's logo? It's a box. (Evolution of the logo)

It's a magic frame. If an 80s comic book drawing version of, say, Morten Harket, was viewed within the frame, he would appear as if flesh and blood. It's only known natural enemy is the pipe wrench.
posted by stavrogin at 9:28 AM on October 7, 2008 [12 favorites]


For those wanting more, there's accompanying blurb for a shed load of logos here.
posted by mandal at 9:32 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Will someone please explain Nationwide Insurance's logo? It's a box.

A box? Well, I guess, but really it's a window, or rather a frame (vaguely reminiscent of a polaroid, now that I look at it).

If I'm not mistaken, they used it to frame things like cars and houses and such in their ads.

Other than that, I'm not really sure what's up with it. Open ended? Maybe. Lazy? I think so.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:33 AM on October 7, 2008


Nationwide's logo is almost certainly an attempt to associate itself with National Geographic which, apart from the Dog Whisperer, never did anyone any wrong, and so produces warm-and-fuzzies.

NatGeo's logo is a simple yellow box frame, which is meant to evoke its famous magazine covers - a thick yellow border surrounding a stunning photo.

I'm frankly surprised the National Geographic Society hasn't sued their pants off yet. Not even being funny here... the names are close enough (both beginning with "Nation") that it could confuse some people into believing there's an association.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:37 AM on October 7, 2008


I always like these. What I'd really like to see is all of them stacked on a horizontal time line so we could easily identify trends.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:37 AM on October 7, 2008


What the hell, Peugeot? It's like watching life devolve. Also, I laughed out loud at Nokia. "Say, uh . . . maybe we lose the fish, yes?"
posted by Skot at 9:38 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I keep thinking we must be on the verge of a return to 40s style logos. I think that something deep in our psyche longs for the curlycues.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:38 AM on October 7, 2008


Almost across the board, these logos progress from complex to simple. Some of it has been going on for decades, but I wonder if some of it in the last decade reflects the increasing use of electronic media, which require fewer pixels for a clean-looking presentation.

And I wonder if we'll see a reversal of that trend as logos tailored to lower-res displays and lower bandwidths ride the higher-bandwidth wave.
posted by gurple at 9:44 AM on October 7, 2008


Stupidest devolution of all: totally classy XEROX logotype into petulant childish xerox+globe logo. I mean, COME ON, we had so much respect for you, and now you go and do this?!
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:47 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Firefox logo does not load.
posted by Zambrano at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought mitsubishi was a stylized propeller. /me suspects /he has fallen for an urban legend
posted by DU at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2008


I first read the title as Corporate LEGOS, and I was all excited...*sigh*
posted by misha at 9:59 AM on October 7, 2008


SONY
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:00 AM on October 7, 2008 [11 favorites]


If you're into this kind of thing, Brand New is the blog for you.
posted by signal at 10:00 AM on October 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only one who was struck by the Peugot workup. It's like they managed a slow, erratic evolution from "a lion" to "GRRR I AM LION GIVE ME A COOKIE MOM".
posted by cortex at 10:01 AM on October 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


The xerox logo is a major step backwards as the simple logotype they used for so long was totally iconic in my mind. Simple yet classy trumps stuck on globe anyday.
posted by vuron at 10:02 AM on October 7, 2008


For the most part (with a couple of exceptions, most notably Texaco) the logos shown sort of "devolved" -- not that they got uglier -- but a lot simpler -- less frilly, less complicated, less extras.

Interesting link.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:04 AM on October 7, 2008


Here's a bit of logo trivia. The logotypes for Yamaha Corporation and Yamaha Motor Corporation are slightly different. Look at the M.
posted by zsazsa at 10:06 AM on October 7, 2008


but I wonder if some of it in the last decade reflects the increasing use of electronic media, which require fewer pixels for a clean-looking presentation.

Sort of, but not really. Onscreen logos were for a very long while just really pixelly approximations of the print logos. The shift to simple vector logos has more to do with scalability, transferability, etc. It's more to do with fax machines than computer screens: If a logo turns to grey mush when you fax it or reduce the size in a copier, blah blah blah. I hate the new clean crap, but it has its practical uses.

WARNING: IF YOU DRIVE A PEUGEOT, YOU WILL BECOME A ZOMBIE LION
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 AM on October 7, 2008


Sigh. The site isn't blocked here at work, but the logo images are hosted on Blogger, which is blocked.
posted by emelenjr at 10:16 AM on October 7, 2008


I laughed out loud at Nokia. "Say, uh . . . maybe we lose the fish, yes?"

I've never much cared about my mobile phone's styling, but I think I'd pay extra for a raised chrome medal of that old Nokia fish on my next one.

I'll be all like, "Dude, when I'm takin' a call, I'm a Finnish trout strugglin' to free hisself from a hoop, yo . . ."
posted by gompa at 10:19 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm back, and I have to agree with the complex to simple trend.

Thoughts: I really wish that Apple had stuck with the original logo, which has a much more "Newtonian" feel to it than the current logo, which is just Silver Surfer's apple.

And Yamaha had it going on, too.

They are all missing the boat by not going back to the old school, as this generation, I think, could really appreciate the symbolism of the originals, inundated as we are with cheap graphics all the time. If some company could find a way to tie in their old logo with the show Mad Men, it would be a win-win.
posted by misha at 10:21 AM on October 7, 2008


Y'know, I always wondered what the hell was up with Mazda's little diamond logo back in the 90s. Were they just trying to carve a new identity out for themselves internationally? And, if so, why'd they make it look like Infiniti's logo?

I wonder if Playboy's branding will finally change after Hef kicks the bucket. If anything, I'm sure they'll find a way to sleaze it up even worse than "The Girls Next Door" has managed to.
posted by seldom seen cid at 10:22 AM on October 7, 2008


It was a long time of staring at my S90 trying to write something or other before I realised that the Yamaha logo is three tuning forks...
posted by benzo8 at 10:22 AM on October 7, 2008


Y'know, I always wondered what the hell was up with Mazda's little diamond logo back in the 90s. Were they just trying to carve a new identity out for themselves internationally?

It seemed like there was a big push among Japanese automakers at that time to get all logo-ed up and have some sort of brand identity or something. That was when Toyota, Mazda, Acura, and maybe a couple others all went from their logo just being their name to having some weird symbol that vaguely approximated the first letter in their name -- Toyota got the double-ellipse thing, Acura went with the calipers, and Mazda got its weird thing.
posted by LionIndex at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2008


I guess in order to go mainstream, it's not surprising that Starbucks had to retire certain elements of the alchemical etching it was using as its logo. (Tarot card version, I can't seem to find the original).
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 10:50 AM on October 7, 2008


Sony is just being pedantic.
posted by dawson at 10:51 AM on October 7, 2008


I blame fax machines.

Long ago, I was the first engineer hired for a Fax-over-IP startup initially named NetInfo, then NetCentric. My career had previously been in 3D simulation and gaming, so I snobbily considered the concept to be beneath me. However, the thought of siphoning pennies off every facsimile sent by Sony between Tokyo and New York made me steeple my fingers with greed. It was 1994. The engineering staff was made up of high-powered opinionated geeks from widely different disciplines. We couldn't even agree on what language to use. The place was a disaster.

Our logo was designed by our flashy egotistical founder. It was intended to represent some sort of abstract network diagram - a small central circle surrounded by alternating lines and lollipops. The staff universally hated it.

The logo also had a technical problem - it had too many subtle details to fax well, and we were a faxing company! Oops.

So, the logo was simplified. The lollipops were eliminated, giving more room for the lines. This was more faxable, but uninspired and amateurish - particularly in its online incarnation. Boss decided that what the logo needed was a black-to-red radial gradient.

Great. I work for a company filled with smart assholes, and we have an anus for a logo. (Side note - this is how I ended up with "sphinctank" as a domain name.)

The boss was not amused by my prank of replacing the logo on the intranet pages with an animated gif version that "puckered" every 30 seconds.

A few months later, with little fanfare, the official sphincter logo was quietly replaced with a red AT&T death star ripoff.

I think fax machines were the low point on the resolution curve (assuming that favicons aren't a significant design criteria) so I suspect that logos will start to regain some complexity. At least until the first 128x128 ad-supported retinal implants are released.
posted by argh at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


I know I'm not the only one who wants a camera with Canon's old logo on it. That's pretty edgy right there.
posted by echo target at 10:57 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The old logos were just so much, well, better. Not to put a value judgment on it or anything but they're way more interesting and thus, you would think, more immediately recognizable (no one who's seen it will ever now forget that Nokia fish,) which I seem to remember from branding 101 is one of those things you strive for mightily in logo design. It's kind of chilling, watching the logos progress like the century: from artistic and ornate and individual to drab, simplified and much the same as all the others.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:58 AM on October 7, 2008


CBS has been trying too hard. And wrong.
posted by ChuqD at 11:01 AM on October 7, 2008


The new Kodak logo kills me. The yellow and red focal plane logo was so iconic and they dropped it for "Kodak" in a web 2.0 font.
posted by the jam at 11:09 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


As Kibo once demonstrated, press releases about new logos can be really silly.

Apparently these days companies can't come right out and say "WE THINK THIS LOGO LOOKS COOL" (or, more realistically, "WE'RE FLOUNDERING ABOUT FOR WAYS TO SAVE THE COMPANY WITHOUT SPENDING ANY MONEY") and instead they always have to post a press release along the lines of "THE FACT THAT OUR LOGO HAS A BUMP ON ONE SIDE REPRESENTS THE ULTIMATE UNIMPEACHABILITY OF THE NOBLE HUMAN SPIRIT LIFTING OUR CORPORATION ABOVE ALL OTHERS SO THAT WE MAY RAIN DOWN SHOWERS OF GOLD ON OUR BELOVED CUSTOMERS."

First rule of business: To express confidence in yourself, change your name and logo.

"When you think of burning clowns, think of Sema!"

posted by straight at 11:13 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't want golden showers, thanks.
posted by misha at 11:20 AM on October 7, 2008


the scary first VW logo (master race-owned and operated!)

It's Naziriffic!
posted by kirkaracha at 11:25 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was a long time of staring at my S90 trying to write something or other before I realised that the Yamaha logo is three tuning forks...

I remember hearing it can be seen as both three tuning forks (this being the original inspiration ) and three bike forks, motorcycles being another Yamaha product, although this may be apocryphal.
posted by ghost of a past number at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2008


I like how the panda in the early WWF logos looks like he's putting a choke hold on something.
posted by mazola at 11:49 AM on October 7, 2008


I remember hearing it can be seen as both three tuning forks (this being the original inspiration ) and three bike forks, motorcycles being another Yamaha product, although this may be apocryphal.

I first saw it on a guitar amp and thought it was three 1/4" plugs.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:53 AM on October 7, 2008


Delta Airlines has an interesting logo history/evolution, too.
posted by lisawin at 11:54 AM on October 7, 2008


Mooney Airplane Company: Old. Later (my favorite). Now.
posted by exogenous at 12:03 PM on October 7, 2008


Regarding Canon's original name: "Kwanon" ( I just learned this)

The prototype camera was named "Kwanon" because Yoshida was a believer in "Kwannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy." The camera's logo depicted a thousand-arm Kwannon Goddess, and even its lens was named "Kasyapa" which came from Mahakasyapa, a disciple of the Buddha.
posted by weezy at 12:41 PM on October 7, 2008


3-dimensional red widget logo reflects Delta's successful transformation into a highly-differentiated, customer-focused airline.

Does it? Does it really?
posted by The Whelk at 12:51 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


My god, I never realized the "M" in the Mazda logo until now

Yeah, me neither. According to the Wikipedia entry, it's a stylized "M" meant to show the company stretching its wings for the future.

It looks like an owl to me.

Then again, the Wiki entry also mentions that Mazda means "great wisdom" in the Iranian Avestan language. So maybe...
posted by crumbly at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2008


Mitsubishi = 'three diamonds'
Subaru = the Pleiades star cluster 'gathered together'

I love how the Renault symbol is a variation on the blivet or Necker cube.
Having driven a few, I also find it evocative of their engineering.
"The French copy no one and no one copies the French."

And now a musical interlude:
Albert Collins -- Mastercharge
posted by Herodios at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2008


Then again, the Wiki entry also mentions that Mazda means "great wisdom" in the Iranian Avestan language.

I often refer to my Protege as my Mazd'a, much to the amusement of my Parsi Pappa (farsi father, sassanid sire if you will).
posted by Pollomacho at 1:42 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if Nokia isn't using that fish logo anymore, I'd gladly take it off their hands for them.
posted by brundlefly at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2008


Volkswagen wins.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:06 PM on October 7, 2008


We just redesigned our logo; I did a bunch of customization of the typography to get just the right, distinctive look. I thought this post was cool and related, so I sent it to my boss with a note about how small tweaks can make a great difference.

I just got back, and I swear I am cutting and pasting:
Hate to burst your bubble, but most people will not notice that it is a different font! Most people think there are two fonts – the one with thingies, and the one without, with maybe a script or chiller thrown in for good luck.
I need a hug.
posted by CaptApollo at 2:45 PM on October 7, 2008


Most people think there are two fonts – the one with thingies, and the one without, with maybe a script or chiller thrown in for good luck.

So very true. That's they hire folks like you, innit?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:25 PM on October 7, 2008


That's why...
posted by Sys Rq at 3:25 PM on October 7, 2008


Reuters needs updating.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:29 PM on October 7, 2008


The Boeing ones don't seem to evolve so much as wibble about all over the place.

Don't forget yhey've mixed in the logos of three companies (Boeing, McDonnell and Douglas). So you see McDonnell Douglas forming in the sixties, and then Boeing getting the addition of the MD planet/rocket/aeroplane thing when they merged in '97.
posted by markr at 5:33 PM on October 7, 2008


hey lets all rush out and get brand-name merchandise at low, low prices. ...

one of the red diamonds fell off of the hood emblem of my friends car...now its just a Futatsubishi.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:49 AM on October 8, 2008


My former employers changed their logo to a snowman shot in the bottom with a giant green arrow. Some wag photoshopped them into male and female symbols and put them on the bathroom doors of my floor.
posted by Sparx at 2:54 AM on October 8, 2008


They missed about three steps in the WWF logo evolution.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:52 AM on October 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would have only been four years ago, if the year they have is correct, yet I can still remember the commercials featuring a solemn-voiced announcer explaining that "master charge" had become "MasterCard."

And they left out Visa, which has foolishly abandoned its bars for a simple wordmark.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:58 PM on October 8, 2008


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