History of Logotypes - Logos
A logo is an identifying mark used by brands and corporations, largely to establish and define the character of the corporation and if they are particularly effective, become synonymous with the corporations they portray and become instantly recognized by millions of people. A successful logo helps to identify a company and convey a message about the brands they stand for. You’ve probably seen these logos every day – from McDonald’s, Nike and IBM to Coca-Cola and Atari. These logos literally become the face of a corporation – recognized and well regarded by millions. The word “logo” comes from ancient Greek meaning “word”, so in a way a logo sums up the company’s goals, philosophies and products in one single word.
Logos often come as words set in a unique typeface, a pictorial “icon” or a combination of the two that allows for a tag line or a motto. Coca-Cola is one example of a logo that consists of a uniquely stylized typeface. Such logos are often copyrighted or trademarked so that no other entity can use them without the proper expressed permission. The golden arches of McDonald’s is an example of a successful “icon” logo, one that is easily and instantly recognized by anyone, even small children. It is not just corporations that utilize logos – some logos have become powerful enough in their recognition that they are used to symbolize entire professions. The caduceus, the symbol of a snake entwined around a snake, is used to identify the medical profession.
The use of logos stem back to the 13th century, during the early Renaissance period. During that time, goldsmiths and paper makers often created and used logos as a way to trademark their work. The oldest logo that is currently still in use is that of the Prudential Insurance Company. Their stylized “Rock of Gibraltar” logo has been in constant use since 1896 and lends an air of permanence, letting their clients know that they are a stable, solid company that will be around for a very long time. Prudential still urges their clients to “rely on the Rock”. Another logo that’s been around for a significant amount of time is the RCA logo featuring the dog Nipper sitting in front of a phonograph while listening with intent. This logo has been in use since 1910 with very few modifications. If a logo is successful enough in conveying the company’s intended message, it is bound to last a very long time with possibly only minimum modifications. Other logos that have had very long service lives include those of Nike, IBM and Ford Motor Company. These old logos share a place in commerce along with newer designs driven by the advent of Web 2.0, calling for designs that are more open and airy than their predecessors.
There is more to a logo than what is seen on first glance. In order to purposely convey the intended message, many factors have to be considered. Color, shape and typography are a few important factors that make or break any logo. Color has to be carefully considered, as different colors convey different symbolic meanings. In the case of the UPS logo, the brown and gold colors communicate trustworthiness, value and reliability. The shape of a logo also important – the UPS logo comes in the form of a coat-of-arms, indicating a history of service. The package that one sat on the top of the emblem was recently replaced by a swish, which indicates speed and direction. Various logos use swishes and horizontal slashes as well as slanted typeface to indicate speed and direction.
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