What comes first, the brand or the logo? What makes a logo iconic? Or maybe it’s easy to answer the question – what do iconic logos have in common? One thing they have in common is a successful brand behind them. The brands they represent have become household names, and even if they are something you don’t, haven’t or wouldn’t buy, the logo is recognisable and synonymous with the brand itself.
Iconic logos can effectively ‘stand alone’ and still get the job done. We’re talking instantly recognisable (even on a subliminal level), memorable and timeless. There’s no need for text or a product shot as explanation…think McDonalds ‘Golden Arches’, the Nike ‘tick’ and Apple’s bitten apple …
But when you look at the iconic logos themselves, they are unique and stand out in some way. Most of them are simple; they have strong colour and they work on different levels and in different sizes.
Here are a few of the most iconic:
Apple’s bitten apple
Every image or symbol tells a story. We instantly make assumptions about what a brand is when we see their logo. Apple’s bitten apple tells the story of knowledge and temptation, even seduction, with its likeness to the apple offered by Eve to Adam. The bite or byte out of the apple is an instant link to the product.
But the logo didn’t start out like that apparently. The first logo was an illustration of Newton sitting under an apple tree (tree of knowledge) as the apple fell. This logo was changed within the first year to the iconic outline we know today but was rainbow striped originally. Apple lost its stripes when Steve Jobs returned to the company. Two reasons seem to be sited: it was expensive to produce in full colour and a single colour modernised the logo and it also worked better in differing sizes on a number of different platforms.
Looking for explanation of the logo or why Apple was called Apple Macintosh, the stories differ. It is thought that the company got its original name Apple Macintosh because Jobs worked in the apple orchards as a kid and his favourite type of apple – a McIntosh!
Nike’s swoosh or tick is another iconic logo. Even if Nike shoes don’t appeal personally, everyone knows the logo instantly. That brand-mark swoosh on the side of their shoes and other products, gives the impression of speed, a sort of go-faster-stripe conveying that high performance and achievement is obtainable. The tick is a mark of confirmation subliminally telling the consumer they are the right choice, the only choice.
The name Nike is that of the Greek goddess of victory. A perfect image and philosophy for the company and products worn by internationally known sportsmen and women as ambassadors of the brand.
McDonald’s Golden Arches
The arches were originally used separately on a walk-up hamburger cart by the founding McDonald brothers. Together they looked like an M so they were amalgamated for the logo. Simple logo, simple story.
There are many more we could discuss from the VW sign of the Volkswagen to the three pointed ‘star’ of Mercedes-Benz or the Golden Harp of Guinness and many more. What they all have in common is that they are instantly recognisable and memorable and need no explanation. When we see them they convey the brand they represent and all connotations of the services, quality and philosophy to the consumer.