The Evolution of Corporate Identity Design
I have been always fascinated with the meanings behind corporate logos and the messages that they deliver. The logo, like a nametag, define the personality of a corporation and the effectiveness of its design has become an integral element of the companies that they portray. Famous brands are instantly recognized by millions of people. Some of these include fast-food chains such as McDonald’s or consumer electronics such as Apple computers. In order to discover the true meaning behind these famous logos, we have to probe deeper into their design history and how they have evolved over the years. This article lists some of the world’s most famous corporate logos and attempts to discovery the history behind each one. If you would like me to include a logo, please leave a comment below!
The four rings in the logo have nothing to do with the Olympic rings, but is the emblem of one of the oldest car manufacturers in Germany. It represents the 1932 merger of four independent motor-vehicle manufacturers: Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer. Together with the NSU Motorenwerke AG, which joined in 1969, these manufacturers are the origins of the present-day Audi AG. The company itself is over 100 years old. In September 2009, Audi released their new logo that we have come to know today which features an enhanced 3-dimensional aspect of the rings.
Initially, the logo for Apple Computers depicted a small apple shape sitting under a tree with Apple Computer Co set into the frame of the picture. The first logo design was perceived to be way too complex and hard to view so the designers worked on the logo some years later and added a bite mark to represent the seduction of the customers and the marketplace in general. There are actually a lot of biblical references in the Apple logo design, for example the rainbow-colored apple is a reference to the story of Adam and Eve in which the apple signified the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The current iconic design we have come to known today is completely consistent with their product design scheme with its silver metallic sheen.
British graphic designer Abram Games was famous for creating BBC’s first identity which was nicknamed “Bat’s Wings”. This was then replaced by the BBC tv lettering in boxes located within a circle. Later on, BBC’s famous emblem was unveiled depicting the globe. The TV station also promoted its use of color by including references to the station identity, which acted as a reminder to the audience to buy a colour television set. The late 90′s brought a new approach to BBC’s brand and its logo was made more modern-looking.
The modern FedEx logo is one of the most recognizable logos in the world. It was created in 1994 by Lindon Leader, as Senior Design Director at Landor Associates. In the same year, it was ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 8 best logos of the past thirty-five years – ranked amongst Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, IBM, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Playboy. FedEx is a symbolic abbreviation of the company’s full name: Federal Express. A lot of people don’t notice this because at first glance, the FedEx corporate logo appears to be plain and simple, but there is something very cool about its design. An arrow pointing to the right can be seen in the negative space between the uppercase E and the x. The arrow symbolized forward movement and thinking in line with the company’s purpose and mission.
American graphic designer, Paul Rand’s trademark for International Business Machines (1956) was derived from an uncommonly used typeface called City Medium. Later on, it was redesigned into the IBM corporate logo, a powerful and unique company identity emerged as the slab serifs and shapes in between the negative spacing provided unity and uniqueness to the design. In the 1970′s the logo was updated again to evoke scan lines on video terminals, but the typeface remained consistent.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
The “Kentucky Fried Chicken” brand changed many since its conception in the early 1950′s. The brand was changed to the abbreviation KFC from the early 1990′s so as to move away from the unhealthy negative connotation of the word “fried”. The logo itself depicts the creator of KFC – Sanders himself. Unlike many other famous logos, KFC has kept remarkably consistent with its visual identity and has maintained the defining elements of Colonel Sander’s image while adapting to the visually evolving fast food chain industry. The current logo shows the amount of effort that KFC have made over the last few years to reboot the brand with energetic and dynamic designs to compete against other major fast-food chains such as Burger King or McDonald’s.
Kodak is a widely-known American multinational public company known for producing and supplying the consumer public with photographic equipment and materials from disposable cameras to photographic film. In 1960, the company introduced the corner curl design. Although the letter K was preferred as it seemed a strong and bold letter, it was not introduced until the 1970′s along with the box design. Over the years, the typeface of the logo has also been updated to more contemporary fonts. In the 2000′s Kodak was forced to reinvent itself and that led to an update to the corporate identity – their new logo sports a distinctively shaped “a” and rounded sans-serif typeface.
In 1981, the popular New York City based American cable television network MTV was launched by Warner AmEx. To this day, MTV broadcasts a youth and pop culture and expanded to reality tv shows aimed at young people. The logo design crew at Manhattan Design first began to play around with just the letters MTV and created the flexible and innovative design that remained consistent today. The “M’ was initially built out of polka dots, wooden strips, red bricks, zebra stripes and even the yellow-and-black of a checkered taxi cab.
A young pharmacist named Caleb Bradham in 1893 started experimenting with different soft drink mixtures. In those days, many pharmacists served their customers refreshing homemade drinks. In 1898, Bradham bought the trade name “Pepsi Cola” for $100 from a competitor that had gone broke. At the same time Bradham’s neighbor, designed the first Pepsi logo. The beverage’s instant popularity led Bradham to channel his efforts to developing Pepsi-Cola into a real business. Over the decades, Pepsi has remained one of the world’s most famous brands alongside its main rival Coca-Cola. Over this time, Pepsi has also gone through major logo redesigns and modifications. Now we have come to know the iconic red, white and blue Pepsi globe that leaves an everlasting impression in the minds of people across the world.
The logos showcased in this article are registered trademarks of their respective corporations. Use of these logos here does not imply endorsement of the organizations by this site.
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