20 of the most iconic logo designs

Logos are a visual representation of a brand's identity, communicating its values, personality, and essence in a single glance. Over the years, some logos have become iconic, standing the test of time and remaining etched in our collective memory. Below are 20 of the most iconic logo designs.

Some have changed dramatically over time, while other have remaining unchanged since their creation.

Adidas logo

Adidas

The three stripes of Adidas create a dynamic and memorable visual identity. This simple yet powerful design has become synonymous with sports and athleticism.

The original company logo, for the then named Dassler, was created in 1924. The Adidas name wasn't used until 1949 and the three stripes weren't introduced until the early 70’s. Since then, the stripes have remained consistent, with occasional variations with their presentation for different product ranges. The most recent is a visual representation of the three stripes as they appear on the side of their trainers.

Adobe logo

Adobe

Adobe's logo is an excellent example of clever negative space usage. The iconic "A" showcasing the brand's connection to creativity and design. The simplicity and hidden meaning make this logo a standout in the software industry.

The original logo was created in 1982 by Marva Warnock and John Warnock. The design evolved to the current version which was released in 1993. Since then, the placement of the “Adobe” wording and font used have updated slightly but the “A” has remained consistent.

Amazon logo

Amazon

Amazon's logo cleverly incorporates an arrow that points from the "A" to the "Z," emphasising the company's commitment to providing everything from A to Z. The smiley face formed by the arrow also conveys the idea that shopping on Amazon brings joy and satisfaction. This logo brilliantly captures the essence of the brand's extensive product range and customer-centric approach.

The current “smile” logo was designed in 2000 by Turner Duckworth.

Apple logo

Apple

Apple's logo is a minimalist masterpiece, featuring a bitten apple that is instantly recognisable. The simplicity and symmetry of the design make it iconic, reflecting the brand's commitment to innovation and elegance.

The original Apple logo included an image of Issac Newton, which was dropped when the apple icon was introduced in 1977 by Rob Janoff. Over the years rainbow and chrome variations were used, and the “Apple Inc” wording was dropped, to leave the minimalist version used today.

Beats by Dre logo

Beats by Dre

Beats by Dre's logo is a perfect fusion of simplicity and cultural relevance. The lowercase "b" surrounded by a red circle has become synonymous with premium audio products and urban culture. The sleek design exudes a sense of modernity and sophistication, making it an iconic symbol in the music industry. Not only does the "b" represent the product name, it is also a visual nod to the headphone products.

The logo was created by Robert Brunner in collaboration with Jimmy Lovine and Dr. Dre in 2008.

BMW logo

BMW

BMW's logo is a perfect blend of tradition and modernity. The circular design with a blue and white colour scheme represents the brand's origins in aviation and its home country, Germany. The design represents a plane propellor in motion. The simplicity and symmetry of the logo contribute to its enduring appeal.

The BMW roundel logo was created in 1916 and has subtly evolved over the years, with the most recent iteration introduced in 1997. Although a minimal design was introduced in 2020, the 3D design shown here is still used on the cars that BMW manufacture.

Coca-Cola logo

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola's script logo is a classic example of effective typography. The flowing script and the iconic red colour evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia, making it one of the most enduring logos in the world.

The Coca-Cola script logo was created in the 1886 by Frank Mason Robinson using the Spencerian font. The design changed several times in the first few years on the brands life but then settled on the design that has remained pretty much unchanged since the early 1890s. The red colouring was introduced in 1934.

Formula 1 logo

Formula 1

The Formula 1 logo is a dynamic representation of speed and motion. The sleek, italicised lettering and the stylised "1" create a sense of forward movement, perfectly capturing the essence of the high-speed racing sport. This logo exemplifies how design can evoke the excitement and energy of a brand. The curve of the initial "F' is also a visual nod to the tracks raced on.

The original Formula 1 logo was created in the mid 1980s, with the most recent , simplified logo designed by Wieden+Kennedy in 2018.

Gillette logo

Gillette

Gillette's logo is a model of precision, reflecting the brand's focus on shaving technology. The sharp, clean lines convey a sense of efficiency and cutting-edge innovation, establishing Gillette as a leader in the grooming industry. The sharp edges of the letterforms are also a visual nod to the product.

The original Gillette logo, featuring an arrow running through the lettering. The logo has undergone modernisation, and the most recent changes introduced bold typography with sharp edges.

McDonalds logo

McDonald's

The golden arches of McDonald's are a globally recognised symbol of fast food. The use of vibrant colours and a distinctive shape makes this logo stand out, creating an instant association with the brand.

The first McDonald's logo featuring the golden arches was designed in 1961 by Jim Schindler, and was a visual representation of the restaurant architecture. The design has been simplified over time to the current version iteration which is the iconic golden arches.

Mastercard logo

Mastercard

Mastercard's logo is a prime example of simplicity and versatility. The interlocking circles represent the brand's focus on seamless transactions and financial connectivity. The two circles, one red and one yellow, also subtly convey a sense of trust and reliability, making it an enduring symbol in the world of finance.

The original Mastercard logo, featuring the overlapping circles, was designed in 1968 by Robert L. Goldstine. This simplified version was created in collaboration with the design firm Pentagram in 2016 when the "masterdard" wording was removed.

NBC logo

NBC

The NBC peacock logo is a colourful and memorable design that has evolved over the years. Each feather of the peacock represents a different division of the network, showcasing the diversity of programming. This iconic logo has become a staple in American television culture.

The NBC peacock logo was created in 1956 by John J. Graham. The current iteration was introduced in 1986.

Netflix logo

Netflix

Netflix's logo is a bold and simple expression of the brand's identity. The red lettering is instantly recognisable, reflecting the platform's commitment to providing a vast library of entertainment options. The logo's simplicity contributes to its success in a crowded streaming market.

The Netflix logo evolved from the design created in 2001, to the 2014 used today.

Nike logo

Nike

The Nike swoosh is a prime example of a memorable and versatile logo. Its fluid lines convey a sense of motion and speed, capturing the essence of the brand's commitment to athleticism and excellence.

The “swoosh” logo was created in 1971 by graphic design student Carolyn Davidson and has undergone minimal changes since that time. In 1976, bold typography was added.

Playboy logo

Playboy

The Playboy bunny logo is an iconic symbol of the lifestyle brand. Created by Art Paul, the simplicity of the design and its association with the Playboy brand make it a timeless emblem.

Aside from sharpening the edges of the design, the logo has remained as it was produced in the 1950s.

Shell logo

Shell

The Shell logo, featuring a stylised seashell, is one of the oldest and most recognised symbols in the energy industry. The red and yellow colour combination and the timeless design reflect the brand's commitment to quality and innovation in the oil and gas sector.

The original Shell logo was created in 1904 by Henri van de Velde. Shell has made several adjustments to its logo over the years, with the most recent version, introduced in 1971, focusing on simplification and modernisation.

Starbucks logo

Starbucks

Starbucks' mermaid logo is a symbol of coffee culture around the world. The green and white siren, inspired by maritime mythology, represents the brand's commitment to quality coffee and a sense of community. The intricate details and cultural associations make this logo truly iconic.

The original Starbucks logo, featuring a twin-tailed siren, was created in 1971. Starbucks has updated its logo multiple times. The most recent version, introduced in 2011, removed the outer ring and featured a streamlined, more contemporary design.

Olympics logo

The Olympics

The Olympic rings are a globally recognised symbol of unity and competition. The interlocking rings represent the coming together of continents, and the colours were chosen to reflect those found in every national flag. This iconic logo transcends language and culture, symbolising the spirit of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic rings were designed by Pierre de Coubertin in 1912 and have remained unchanged, aside from minor colour updates and thinner rings, since. The colour palette reflects the colours used within the flags of all nations of the world.

Vaio logo

Vaio

Sony's Vaio logo seamlessly blends elegance and technology. The stylised "VA" represents both analog and digital signals, symbolising the convergence of audio and visual technologies. The sleek and futuristic design has made it a distinctive symbol in the world of electronics.

The Vaio logo was created by Teiyu Goto  and consists of two parts of the word mark — “VA” and “IO”, where “VA” forms an analogue sound wave and “IO” represents the 1 and 0 of digital binary code.

Woolmark logo

Woolmark

The Woolmark logo, a stylised image of a woolly lamb, has been a symbol of quality wool products since the 1960s. This iconic mark denotes excellence and craftsmanship in the textile industry, assuring consumers of the finest wool materials.

The Woolmark logo was created in 1964 by Franco Grignani and has remained largely consistent over the years.

The key elements of an iconic logo design

Simplicity

Iconic logos are often simple and easy to understand. A clutter-free design ensures that the message is communicated clearly and instantly.

Memorability

An iconic logo is one that stays with you. Whether through unique shapes, colours, or symbols, a memorable logo leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

Timelessness

Logos that withstand the test of time possess a timeless quality. Avoiding trends and fads helps ensure that the logo remains relevant across generations.

Versatility

An effective logo should work across various mediums and sizes without losing its impact. Versatility allows the logo to adapt to different applications seamlessly.

Relevance

A logo should reflect the core values and identity of the brand. Relevance ensures that the logo resonates with the target audience and accurately represents the brand.

Conclusion

These 20 iconic logos showcase the power of design in creating lasting brand impressions and emphasise the diverse elements that contribute to their iconic status. From hidden meanings and clever symbolism to cultural relevance and timeless design, each logo tells a unique story. Whether through simplicity, memorability, versatility, or relevance, the basic elements of these logos have propelled them to the status of cultural symbols.

It is worth noting that of all of the designs listed, the majority of them either began life as, or evolved to, a simple, uncluttered design: the McDonalds' "M", the Apple icon, the Nike swoosh, the Mastercard circles for example. When creating your own logo designs, it's worth considering that less if often more to help deliver your message and portray your brand.

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