January 13, 2011

Best Logos of All Time

There's a cool discussion going on right now over at BRAND NEW on people's opinion on "Best Logos of All Time"

There's some interesting choices and debate in the comments, and I decided to weigh in as well. I really had to think about it hard and really nail down my definition of "best". The most difficult part is to separate popularity and sentimentality from the mix (ie. Coca-Cola, McDonald's, car logos, etc.), because in reality, sure they are very recognizable, but are they really "good" logos.

Here's what I came up with for judging criteria. There are three characteristics each logo should include...


It has to look good with good craftmanship.

There has to be some meaning behind it.

It has to have stood the test of time with a proven track record.


Here's my very subjective personal "Top Five":

1. The Olympic Rings

The Olympic Rings logo was designed in 1913 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a French Freemason and founder father of the original IOC. They were originally designed to symbolize the first five Olympics, but are said to now symbolize the five inhabited continents (for their purposes, North & South America are considered one). Most of the pomp and celebration around the Olympics that we have become used to today was originally popularized in Germany by Adolf Hitler in 1936. With his influence, the rings became part of the Nazi pageantry at Berlin - and they've come to symbolize the Olympics ever since. Side note: Hitler is often credited for

2. Apple

The first version of the Apple logo we know today was created by Rob Janoff and is referred to as the "Rainbow Apple". Janoff presented Steve Jobs with many different monochromatic options for the "bitten" logo. Although Jobs liked the logo, he insisted it be in color to help "humanize" the company. The Apple logo was designed with a bite out of it so it would be recognized as an apple rather than a cherry. The colored stripes were conceived to make the logo more accessible, and to represent the fact the monitor could reproduce images in color.

2. CN

The CN logo was designed for Canadian National Railways in 1959 by graphic designer Allan Robb Fleming. It was first conceived by Fleming on a cocktail napkin while flying to New York City. The interconnected letters form a simplified representation of a train line. Fleming declared after its inception, "I think this symbol will last for 50 years at least. It don't think it will need any revision, simply because it is designed with the future in mind. Its very simplicity guarantees its durability." He was right. At over 50 years old, the logo - which is affectionately know as the CN worm - still looks futuristic.

2. Kodak

Established by businessman Henry Strong and inventor George Eastman, Eastman Kodak in an American multinational public company known for producing and supplying a wide array of photographic equipment and materials. Eastman preferred the letter K for it seemed an incisive, strong sort of letter. The graphic "K" element was introduced in 1971 as a visual representation of the audible click sound the camera's shutter makes when taking a picture.

2. Nike

The swoosh logo was originally developed by a graphic designer, Carolyn Davidson in 1971. She was one of over 30 people who made logo suggestions for the company. Her concept was designed to convey movement and to symbolize a wing of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Davidson submitted a bill for $35 for her work. Originally, Nike founder Phil Knight disliked the swoosh, but ended up using it saying "I don't love it, but it will grow on me". As the time passed, the Swoosh logo has become synonymous with not only the company, but with sports. In 1983, Knight gave Davidson a gold Swoosh ring and an envelope filled with Nike stock to express his gratitude (and ease his conscience).


What do you think? Any ones I've blatantly missed?