Corporations fret over their logos, endlessly revising them and spending countless dollars to get them right. For all of their efforts, most of us usually miss a logo’s hidden nuance. We might have picked up on the smile in the Amazon logo but failed to notice it trailing from A to Z. One could even argue that the arrow’s tip resembles a cursor poised over the “Buy Now” button.
With so many innovative logos to choose from, it’s tough to pare the list down to five. These, however, presented in no particular order, continue to fascinate.
The Swoosh, which has its very own Wikipedia entry, was created by design student Carolyn Davidson in 1971. She was paid $35. Company co-founder Phil Knight was conflicted about it; reportedly, he said, “I think it will grow on me.”
The Swoosh evokes the winged Greek goddess of victory. The Nike name was dropped from the logo in 1995, and the Swoosh is now presented on black rather than red.
Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine was the first endorser of Nike footwear. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and a host of others have followed suit. Davidson was eventually rewarded with a diamond ring and 500 shares of Nike stock.
Getting to the core of the bitten apple design is no easy task. Steve Jobs neither confirmed nor denied rumors that the logo was a tribute to Alan Turing. Turing was an early pioneer in computer technology and the decoder for the Allies portrayed in the film “Enigma.” Historians argue about the circumstances of his death, but Turing was long thought to have taken his own life by eating an apple that he’d laced with cyanide.
Bob Janoff, who drew the logo, claims that Jobs never mentioned Turing. He says that the original apple was redrawn with a bite taken out of it because it looked too much like a cherry.
Janoff admits that his bite had no special significance. He was delighted when a friend explained bytes to him. The apple’s resemblance to a lowercase A may also be mere coincidence.
Created in 1886, this logo is just as much an iconic classic as the brand it represents. Aside from the addition of the white wave in 1969, the design has remained largely unchanged.
Just after John Pemberton declared his soft drink good to go, his partner, Frank M. Robinson, suggested the name Coca-Cola. Legend has it that Robinson took pride in his penmanship and thought that letter C’s were the most handsome for advertising. We’re left to assume that the coca leaves used in the original recipe also had something to do with it.
The script Robinson chose, Spencerian, was popular at that time. It has endured to make Coca-Cola the most recognized brand in the world.
This proud sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl completely re-imagined its logo in 2003. The lowercase letter T’s were stylized to look like stick figures. The letter I is dotted with a bowl of bright red salsa, and the two “people” grasp a single tortilla chip between them. It’s not clear whether they’re sharing the chip as friends or fighting over the last one in the bag, but this one took some whimsical thinking.
5. Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
The unknown designer capitalized on the negative space beneath a drawing of a tree. Taking a closer look reveals a gorilla and a lion staring one another down. Another white space is carved out to form two leaping fish.
Whether clear-cut or subtle, austere or ornate, logos get the job done on some subliminal level. Whatever it is they’re selling, we’re buying it.
Jessica Kane is a professional writer who has an interest in graphic design, marketing, and printing. She currently writes for 777 Sign, her go to place for banner signs, custom flags and custom signs printing.