Every famous worldwide brand had to get its start somewhere. They may be household names today, but 50 or 100 years ago, they were just like any other small start-up business with big ideas. Their logos, too, have undergone massive changes over the years. Some of them have made a gradual evolution, while others have changed their image completely, over and over again. Think you can guess what their logos looked like decades ago? You're going to be very surprised...
When the oil and gas giant started their company way back in 1900, they took the most literal course of action possible for their logo. It doesn't even look like they hired a graphic designer - instead, they just sent out an intern to the beach to photocopy the first shell they could find. But the image has stuck, and although it's become more stylized and colorful over the years, it's now so iconic you can recognize it even without the name attached.
Sometimes it's not just the company itself that needs a distinctive logo, but also their flagship products. While Microsoft has changed their logo only minimally over the years, the Windows operating system graphic certainly has moved with the times. From the blocky breaking-up Windows logo in version 3.1, to the slick and minimalist four floating panes of today, Microsoft is certainly signaling that they're trying to keep up with Apple's effortless cool.
Remember that old urban legend about how the VW logo turned into a Nazi swastika with the right rotation? Well, we can confirm that that is completely and utterly untrue, especially when you look at their original logo. With the letters inside a gear and what we assume are rotating speed lines, it couldn't be further from WWII if it tried. Although it does still kinda remind you of some dystopian government secret police.
Here's one logo that's barely changed over the years. From the very beginning, the swoosh of the giant sports manufacturer has defined their brand, and with recognition like that, there's no need to tinker with a winner. The only thing they have done in recent years is remove the word "Nike", after realizing that everybody on the planet can recognize the logo on its own.
The open-source browser software has long been known for its technical capabilities and cutting-edge functionality, thanks to the teams of computer nerds working on it day and night. But software engineers have never been good at graphic design, and their original logo - from back when they were called Phoenix - is definite proof of that. Luckily they ditched the name and the death-metal-style drawing, although the current one is still a little bit too busy, in our opinion.
It's taken a while for the Pepsi logo to get to where it is today - they've changed their minds more often than a girl going to prom. At first, it was a red-on-white cursive script that looked like the scribblings of a madman, then eventually that was cleaned up. Then they tinkered with a bottle cap design, then ditched that and their font, then finally started to settle on the current blue, red, and white ball.
Ever since being founded in 1962, Walmart's always been about simplicity. It just sells everything, and at low prices. The logo has stayed true to that ethos, with the original literally being just their name, in the font that came with their printer. Apart from what looks like a brief flirtation with a wild west theme a few years later, not much has changed.
The classic silver diamond that we recognize and love about Renault cars has actually been around for almost 100 years, starting in 1925. But Renault has been around a quarter century longer than even that, and with a slightly different production focus. Back in 1919, for example, they were building tanks - hence this classic logo which would totally still be cool today.
It's rare for a company to go from a stylish logo to something brutally basic, but massive German manufacturer did exactly that. Part of the reason was that one of the founders of 1899 - Halske was dropped in the 1970s, leading them to remove the H from the symbol. In the last 40 years, the only other thing that's changed is that they colored their name blue. At least they're not wasting money on marketing.
What happens when a product you develop redefines your company forever? That's the problem Xerox faced back in 1961. For 25 years they'd actually been called Haloid, but the photocopier that they developed, the Xerox 914, changed the world forever. It was to become their biggest product of all time, and even caused them to change their name to Xerox. For a long time after that, the logo was simply their name in the iconic Xerox typeface, until they decided to add a ball. Because everybody loves balls.
You think Apple are cool now? Well, they were far from it back in 1976, when the hypernerd Steve Jobs and his buddies Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne started assembling computers in their garage. We've said it before and we'll say it again: programmers can't do graphic design. If you need proof, just look at their original "logo", which was really just an elaborate drawing of Isaac Newton and his apple tree. Looks like it's been ripped off wholesale from a Shakespeare theater poster.
Sometimes, the story behind a logo is even more interesting than the logo itself. You'd never think of it when looking at it today, but every element of a BMW logo originally meant something. It speaks to their past (and present, with Rolls Royce) history as a manufacturer of airplane engines. The white is the propellers, the blue is the sky, and it hasn't changed all that much since.
What's the first thing you think of when you see the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy sitting on a lotus flower, waving her hundreds of arms and surrounded by flames? Multi-function printers? Yeah, we thought so. That logo was from Canon's very old days as Kwanon - the name of that fiery Buddhist goddess. Then they clearly realized that no-one knew what the hell they were talking about.
Is there any font more recognizable in the world than Coca-Cola's flowing script? Probably not. It really hasn't changed much over the last 100-plus years, but surprisingly, it wasn't the first thing that they settled on. In the late 19th century, in fact, back when it was still a "health tonic", the logo was much plainer, with a black typewriter font on a white background.
The massively popular children's block creator and winner of a million childhoods, Lego, has had a variation on their bubbly logo for about the last 40 years. But the company itself has been around for twice that amount of time, and before adopting a kid-friendly font, their logo was much more boring. In fact, it looked like they sold wholesale meats.
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