I recently had an interesting conversation with one of my clients. He decided to re-brand his company and asked me to handle it for him. His company is 3 years old, yet they still don’t have a proper name or a logo. It’s not unwise or uncommon to think about your brand after your business started generating profit, but at some point any business owner has to give his or her brain child a name and a face. Anyway, while we were discussing options and strategies, he asked me a simple but loaded question, “what is a good logo?”

This made be remember about an article I wrote a while ago after studying classic and well-known logos across several industries.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a corporation in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a logo. Logo is something seemingly simple, undemanding, almost an accessory, yet the importance of one should never be undermined. There is hidden art and science behind a memorable logo. A certain something that makes a consumer visualize your brand within a split of a second and develop subconscious attachment to your product. The trick is to help your audience understand your message by a visual association without any clutter or distractions of the visual miscommunication. In order to speak to your audience’s psyche, knowing how to create a logo is not enough. You need to speak the language that connects art to feelings.  Here are the Best Logos of All Time that created a very special place in millions consumers’ hearts.

Nike’s “Swoosh” logo was designed* by graphic design student Carolyn Davidson in 1971.
Davidson had been approached because she had done casual work with Nike’s founders Phillip Knight and Bill Bowerman.  They needed a logo for a new line of running shoes to be named after the Greek goddess of victory.

Although reminiscent* of a check mark, the “Swoosh” logo is intended to evoke the winged Nike’s flight.

A good logo, according to Paul Rand, provides the “pleasure of recognition and the promise of meaning.” He was the mind and hand behind the original UPS logo.

Regardless of what you might think about Playboy, they managed to balance class, vice, and history in their logo, and unlike many famous logos, this one hasn’t changed since it was released. Hugh Heffner nearly succeeded in making porn acceptable and tasteful…not an easy thing to do in the 60s.

The Biohazard Symbol conveys a sense of unpleasantness without referring to anything in particular. If a human being with no concept of the idea of biohazards came across a container with this on it, they would choose not to open it. It was created at the Dow Chemical Company and chosen for being striking in form in order to draw immediate attention; unique and unambiguous, in order not to be confused with symbols used for other purposes; quickly recognizable and easily recalled; easily stenciled; symmetrical, in order to appear identical from all angles of approach; and acceptable to groups of varying ethnic backgrounds.

There aren’t many people in the world who wouldn’t recognize Apple’s logo, whether they like the brand itself or not. There is a beautiful urban legend behind this logo.

The logo on the back of your iPhone or Mac is a tribute to Alan Turing, the man who laid the foundations for the modern-day computer, pioneered research into artificial intelligence and unlocked German wartime codes.

His death, a decade after the end of the war, provides the link with Apple. Unrecognized for his work, facing jail for gross indecency and humiliated by estrogen injections intended to ‘cure’ his homosexuality, he bit into an apple he had laced with cyanide. He died in obscurity on June 7, 1954, 10 years and a day after the Normandy landings, which made copious use of intelligence gleaned by his methods.

And so, the story goes, when two Stanford entrepreneurs were looking for a logo for their brand new computer company, they remembered Turing and his contribution to their field. They chose an apple — not a complete apple, but one with a bite taken out of it.

Alas, the real story is a lot more prosaic. Rob Janoff, the man who drew the logo, says that he received no specific brief from Steve Jobs, and although he’s hazy about how he settled on the simple outline of an apple, the reason for the bite is crystal clear: it’s there for scale, he says, so that a small Apple logo still looks like an apple and not a cherry.

Everybody in the world can recognize this symbol. Before its world-wide association with the flag of Nazi Germany, Swastika was recognized as an ancient religious symbol that generally takes the form of an equilateral cross, with its four legs bent at 90 degrees. It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and dates back to before 2nd century B.C. The name swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika meaning “lucky or auspicious object”, but even 70 years after Nazi’s defeat, we still have very strong and unpleasant association with the symbol.

According to Dr. Florian Triebel, Executive Board Member of BMW AG,

There are two traditions concerning the significance of the BMW logo and trademark, offering two different interpretations of its sky blue and white fields. One interpretation points to a rotating propeller. The other relates the BMW logo to Bavaria as the place where the products are manufactured.

Black Cat is a production company (TV Design) located in Turkey. It’s a black cat, so you won’t see it, but if you look closely, you’ll see its eyes. Pretty neat, don’t you think?

Every company deserves a thorough research and effort put into finding the right name and mark. After all, your brand might become one of the classics. How do you want to be remembered?

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