How the Apple, Mercedes, Levi’s, I Love NY, Superman, and Hard Rock Cafe logos came to be
A story about good logos, one of the pinnacles of a graphic designer’s skill. We’ll show you 11 famous signs and tell funny or interesting stories related to them.
Year of creation – 1976
The designer is Rob Yanov
The current Apple logo has nothing to do with the company’s very first logo. Its symbol was originally Isaac Newton, sitting under a tree, on which an apple hung in a halo of light.
The author of the bitten apple known to everyone today is designer Rob Yanov from Regis McKenna. When it was explained to the future creator of the iPhone that the Newton engraving was somewhat low-tech, Apple turned to this advertising agency with a request to come up with a new sign.
At the request of Jobs, immediately after the first meeting, Yanov began to work on introducing the image of an apple into a sign. He himself admits that he exhausted more than one kilogram of apples before he came to a satisfactory result. Its shape, dictated by the architectural principle of the golden section, is important in the sign.
It has not changed since 1976, even when in 1998 it was decided to make the apple one-color, and in the 2000s – to give it volume. Designer Yanov, by the way, did not receive a cent for his work.
Year of creation – 1935
Written by Edward Young
Penguin Books became known as the first company to put the business on cheap but well-made paperback books. The author of its logo, as well as the main design layout for books, was a young employee of the company named Edward Young.
In March 1936, ten months after the company’s launch, the first million books with a penguin on the cover were sold. A design layout Penguin Books is now taught in all graphic schools in the world. Young, when he painted his famous Antarctic bird, was twenty-one years old.
Commercial Bank of Kuwait
Denmark – 1979
Designer — Alan Fletcher
Why is this particular star so interesting? For starters, it’s not an asterisk, but the name of a bank written in a stylized Kufic script. At the end of the seventies, the Commercial Bank of Kuwait decided to enter the international market, and it needed a bright sign, equally understandable to both Western and Eastern people.
Many do not know, but this logo was created by the Pentagram agency. In addition, its author is one of the most distinguished masters of graphic design, Alan Fletcher. Designing a sign for a Middle Eastern client was a major challenge for him.
In addition to requiring the designer to draw the logo simultaneously in three writing systems with different reading directions, Fletcher says Kuwaitis work about ten minutes a day, with each appointment being delayed for weeks. Seven-hour flights, during which all the passengers on the flight could suddenly begin to pray at the same time, also impressed Fletcher. Be that as it may, the logo of the Commercial Bank of Kuwait has become one of the most famous of logo design in the world.
I ❤ NY
Year of creation – 1973
Designer — Milton Glaser
The I ♥ NY logo originally had nothing to do with New York City. It was created by designer Glazer for the US Department of Commerce as part of a fairly standard tourism promotion campaign in New York State. The campaign was supposed to last a couple of months, and the designer did not ask for a penny for the sign.
Be that as it may, the logo quickly became a pop cultural symbol, was repeatedly copied and parodied, the original draft of the sign is stored in MOMA, and when in the mid-2000s it was decided to order a new identity for the city of New York from Wolff Olins studio, people rebelled . We limited ourselves to a light (and extremely disgusting) restyling of the sign from the Saatchi & Saatchi agency.
It is unlikely that Milton Glaser ever regretted not asking for a fee for the I ♥ NY, but New York State has made an enormous amount of money over the years from logo permits alone. The state’s lawyers are vigilant in enforcing ownership of the mark and have filed more than 3,000 lawsuits to date.
Year of creation – 1967
Designer: Massimo Vignelli
The logo, drawn by designer Vignelli in the late sixties, is interesting for three things at once. Firstly, this is almost the first case of writing a two-part company name in one word. Later, American Apparel logos and many others were inspired by this move. Secondly, this is one of the first uses of the Helvetica typeface in a sign for such a large-scale company. It was Vignelli who was one of those designers who brought this font to the USA and provided it with worldwide fame. Thirdly, the logo is still used by American Airlines and, apart from its digitization, has not changed at all since 1967.
Year of creation – 1938
Written by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Font — Helvetica
Designed by Siegel and Schuster, the Superman badge was originally supposed to display something between a police badge and a diamond. The first symbolized for the creators the desire of the hero to protect everyone, the second – invincibility. These images, together with the letter S (“Stop crime”, “Save people” and similar slogans), made up a bright sign, which, despite numerous stylistic changes, has come down to us almost in its original form.
Historical fact: the Superman badge was the first to appear on a T-shirt. We can say that it was he who set the fashion for placing superhero badges on T-shirts. For this alone, its creators can be thanked.
Year of creation – 1971
By Raymond Lowy
The word Shell itself has been associated with the Anglo-Dutch oil company for more than a century. But the iconic shell logo that everyone knows today was designed by designer Raymond Loewy in 1971.
The red and yellow shell depicted on it is the shell of a mollusk that plays an important role in the oil production cycle. It has been on the logo since 1900, but only thanks to the laconic Lowy sign it became such a clear symbol of the company that in the nineties the management even removed the word Shell from the logo.
This sign, while not becoming a cultural icon like many other well-known logos, remains, however, an important component of modern graphic design, which has inspired many famous works.
Hard Rock Café
Year of creation – 1971
Written by Alan Aldridge
The Hard Rock Cafe chain, which grew out of a small restaurant whose owners hung various rock memorabilia on the walls, today has several logos for different types of business at once. But all of them are variants of the sign drawn in 1971 – an inscription over a circle. This drawing was created by artist Alan Aldridge, famous for his illustrations for the album covers of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elton John.
Thanks to his psychedelic style of drawing, Aldridge is considered today almost the main illustrator of the sixties, and his involvement in the creation of all the main works of classic rock makes the Hard Rock Cafe logo also, in a sense, a memorial.
Year of creation – 1925
Authors: Gottlieb Daimler
The sign of the automobile concern Mercedes-Benz is, without exaggeration, one of the most recognizable in the world. Interestingly, this sign is made up of two at once – a three-pointed Daimler star and a Benz laurel wreath. For almost fifteen years, these signs existed separately, representing the cars of competing companies.
Both signs were round; at Daimler, the three-pointed star was located in the center of the circle, the name went along the outside; Benz had a laurel branch on the outside of the circle, and the name of the car was written in the center. When the companies merged in 1925, it was decided to combine both symbols with their most advantageous components.
It should only be added here that the star was painted by Gottlieb Daimler himself, in order to symbolically represent the suitability of his motors to work simultaneously in the air, on land and in water.
Year of creation – 1973
Levi Strauss & Co didn’t start using the sign with two horses trying to rip their jeans off in 1873. At the time when Levi Strauss and tailor David Jacobs sewed the first jeans, they did not really need a trademark – there were no other similar pants in the world. The sign appeared in 1886, when the existence of such a thing as jeans became known more or less widely. The famous red tag originated in 1936 as a way to identify Levi’s products at a distance and a means of combating fakes.
All versions of the Levi’s logo were made in-house, so there is no way to name the designer or font. The latter is for the reason that there is simply no such font in everyday life. In addition, for all of their advertising campaigns, Levi’s uses lettering designs made by the art directors at Levi’s.
The Swatch brand was created by panicked Swiss watchmakers in 1981. At that time, cheap Asian electronic watches were wildly popular with consumers, and the association of Swiss bankers, who owned the entire Swiss watch industry, began to worry about this.
The name itself was coined by Nicholas Hayek. This flamboyant businessman and Swiss watch enthusiast convinced the manufactory owners not to bankrupt companies that could not compete with Seiko and other Asian brands, but to merge them into one conglomerate that would introduce a new concept of cheap Swiss watches to the market.
Many mistakenly believe that the Swatch logo is set in the Swatch It font by designer Samuel Park. In fact, Samuel created his font already in the late nineties, inspired by the logo.