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15 Company Logos With Interesting Origins

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15 Company Logos With Interesting Origins

Companies, organizations and sports teams want to project a powerful and positive image to the public. A logo is a public face – a design or picture that hopefully comes to embody all that is good about what it represents. Part of the process is pure marketing as Madison Avenue seeks to plant desires in customers’ heads.

Logos sometimes help to define a brand and sometimes transcend it. Not only is the Coca Cola logo one of the most recognized on the planet, a “coke” has nearly become synonymous with cola or even soda.

Before “branding” was the trendy buzzword and before memes were memes logos were doing the work of representing, reminding and registering in people’s minds that brand X was the best.

15. Tweet This!

It seems like Twitter has been around a lot longer than 11 years. Founded in 2006, by 2012 it boasted more than 100 million users around the world. And by 2013, users were posting more than 500 million tweets every day.

The recognizable logo was originally known as “Larry the Bird” after the famed Boston Celtic basketball player. He has undergone at least one minor design change over his lifespan that makes it resembles a mountain bluebird. In 2012, his name was changed to ‘Twitter Bird.” Near the end of 2017, Twitter decided to expand the 140 character limit to 280.

Depending on how you feel about the president this could be welcome or unwelcome news.

14. I Didn’t Put A Hex on You

There has been some confusion over the years regarding the origins of “all seeing eye” logo used by the Central Broadcasting Station since the 1950s. First, it is not a representation of a space helmet’s visor with the Earth reflected in it. Not sure where that one came from – maybe the moon landing conspiracy theorists.

It is not some kind of occult evil symbol, in fact it was inspired by quite the opposite. A CBS employee familiar with the Pennsylvania Dutch drew inspiration for the logo from hex signs the community painted on its buildings to ward off evil spirits.

In the decades since the CBS logo is recognized worldwide as the mark of popular entertainment company with a long history of popular programming.

13. Nothing Runs Like A Deere

The simple yellow deer against a green field almost has the affect of a national flag. It’s simple and direct message that “nothing runs like a Deere” has served the tractor company well for a long time.

The original deer designed for the logo in the 1800s was based on a type of deer found in Africa, but this was eventually modified to depict a white-tailed deer common to America.

The distinctive yellow and green color scheme used on its equipment has become probably even more familiar to the public than the logo even items like baseball caps emblazoned with the John Deere logo have been popular for decades.

12. Bibendum

Americans know him as the Michelin Man, but his French creators called him Bibendum. His name is derived from a Horace poem and he was introduced at the Lyon Exhibition in France in 1894. Originally the French Michelin Company marketed its tires to the the high end consumers that were the early buyers of automobiles.

When American assembly line technology made automobiles affordable for middle class families Michelin tried to broaden the appeal Bibendum. The Michelin Man is as well known for the travels guides that bare his name as he is for the millions of tires he has helped to sell around the world.

11. Wish Upon a Star

Disney is perhaps the most successful entertainment company in history. For generations this company has inspired and awed children with its movies, television, theme parks and merchandise. A cynic might say Disney is simply better at marketing to children and shaming parents, but millions of children have been genuinely touched the magical world of Disney.

The company refers to the most recent version of the logo, introduce in 2006, “Logo Modern” and is taken from a computer animated sequence. Disney made an additional change to the logo in 2011 when it dropped “Walt” from in front of “Disney.”

And it didn’t go unnoticed by fans  – some of whom registered their disapproval of the company dropping the name of its iconic founder.

10. Gods of Thunder

For much of the 1970s and 1980s, KISS, led by founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, was one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Through disco and rap, the hard rock band has persevered and continues to tour.

The lead guitarist Ace Frehley “The Spaceman” designed the logo with each letter “S” shaped like lightening bolts. Unfortunately their lightning bolt shape reminded some people of the infamous “SS” used by some Nazi units in World War II. Some countries outlawed the Nazi symbol, so KISS had to modify their logo when touring in countries like Germany and Israel.

KISS has remained relevant for 50 years with a combination of showmanship, marketing and good ole rock and roll.

9. Poppin Fresh

Technically, the Pillsbury logo is the little blue circle with the word “Pillsbury” inside it, but isn’t the mascot a lot more fun? The doughboy, named Poppin Fresh, was conceived in 1965 by an ad man working on the Pillsbury account.

The design team was concerned their early incarnation looked too much like Casper the Friendly Ghost so they went back to the drawing board and came up with the look we’re familiar with today. Although Mr. Fresh is brought to life with computer animation this wasn’t always the case.

In the 1960’s, Pillsbury hired a studio that shot the character using stop motion clay animation. At the height of his popularity, Mr. Fresh was receiving 200 fan letters a day.

8. Using the Force

It’s just a company logo right? But its not the log for just any company. Lucasfilm is of course the company that brought us the Star Wars saga that began in 1977. There is nothing special about the logo, but many fans consider the logo’s display before the opening crawl of a Star Wars movie to be part of the experience and would certainly…rebel if Disney changed it.

Lucasfilm/Disney will release chapter 9 of the saga on December 15 with The last Jedi and the Lucasfilm logo will be displayed prominently, but only for a moment, before the movie starts. 

7. The Original Crocs

Lacoste is a French company that has specialized in high-end active wear especially tennis and golf clothing. Its green Crocodile logo is one of the most recognizable around the world. René Lacoste was a famous French tennis player in the 1920s and 1930s, who was nicknamed  “the crocodile” by American the press.

The story goes that Lacoste made a bet with another tennis player that involved a crocodile skin suitcase being presented to the winner. He and André Gillier formed the company together and decided on the crocodile logo to take advantage of Lacoste’s notoriety. 

6. The Peoples’ Logo

The logo is a basic monogram that consists of a white “W” and a white “V” over a blue circle. The white represents purity, perfection and creativity. The blue color represents reliability, security and excellence. The logo was first introduced in 1938 after Volkswagen held a company competition.

It has undergone some color and stylistic changes over the decades, but the basic monogram design has been retained. There is some controversy associated with this logo because it was designed during the Nazi era in Germany. Some people have contended that the design was inspired by Nazi iconography popular at the time such as the infamous Swastika symbol.

5. Swoosh

A design student at Portland State University named Carolyn Davidson designed the logo in 1971 to convey motion. The company also explains the shape of the swoosh is meant to remind us of Nike – the Greek goddess of victory.

A white swoosh with a red background was the original color scheme with the former representing nobility, charm and purity and the latter representing passion, joy and energy. These have been the colors for much of the logo’s run, but in recent years a black swoosh has become popular as well.

In 1988, Nike placed the tag line “Just Do It” with the swoosh and now the two are nearly inseparable in the minds of customers.

4. Play Ball

Designer Jerry Dior supposedly created the Major League baseball’s iconic log on a single day in 1968. Contrary to popular myth, the image of the player is not based on Twins hall of fame Harmon Killebrew.  It is a composite that used several photographs of different players.

The design of the logo has not undergone any major change since its introduction for the 1969 season. The red, white and blue was intended to associate the league with American and family values. When the National Basketball Association designed its logo, it intentionally modeled it after the MLB logo.

3. Mr. Taylor, Your Sneakers are Ready Now

Chuck Taylor played basketball for the Akron Firestones, but his destiny was as a salesman and promoter of sporting goods, not as an athlete. In 1921, Mr. Taylor joined Converse in its sales department. Over the next decade, he was a tireless promoter of the Converse brand, particularly of its basketball shoes.

The company rewarded Taylor for all of his hard work in 1932, immortalizing him by adding his name to the logo that appears on every pair of its iconic basketball shoes. The sneakers are often referred to as “Chuck Taylors” or “Chucks.”

In an era where basketball sneakers are routinely priced well over $100, Converse All-Stars have continued to be a fashionable and economical alternative.

2. That’s Gold Baby

The McDonald’s Corporation is one of the most successful businesses in history with assets of more than $35 billion. It serves an estimated 68 million customers each day in 119 countries. The original golden arches design were created in 1962. It was based on a motif that resembled the letter “M” the McDonald brothers had used in their early hamburger stands in California.

The arches are meant to convey elegance, dominance and professionalism. The golden yellow symbolizes happiness, optimism and joy. The red symbolizes passion, determination and vitality. McDonald’s has evolved with the times since the 1950s, but the golden arches have remained the brand’s foundation into this century.

1. “G” is for Google

The first Google logo was created by Sergey Brin in 1997 using the open source graphics editor GIMP. The original version had the multicolored letters laying nearly flat. The more recognizable version of the logo debuted the following year. There have been a total of 7 designs of the logo with one that included an exclamation point.

The most recent version of the logo appeared in 2015 (shown above). Almost as recognizable as the Google logo itself are the numerous variations of it that have been appeared periodically. These themed versions of the logo celebrate a particular holiday, person or event and are known as Google Doodles.

The colorful, almost playful design of the logo might obscure the fact that Google has become one of the most powerful companies in the world. 

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