The Evolution of Big-Name Logos

Way back in college – the early ’90s, to be precise – I was taught in graphic design class that huge companies continue to advertise because it’s important to keep their brand out there and in people’s minds. That’s one of the reasons McDonald’s golden arches, Nike’s swoosh and Coca-Cola’s red-and-white logo are recognized worldwide. Despite the determination to be easily identifiable, a lot of these big companies have tweaked their logos throughout the years. Here’s a look at the evolution of some of them.


The iconic swoosh made its first appearance in 1971 and has stuck around ever since. Originally, the word “Nike” also appeared in the logo, but being one of the most recognized symbols in the world, the swoosh now stands alone.

1978 Logo

Current Logo


Coca-Cola’s script logo has stayed relatively the same since the early 1900s. It did take a break from the cursive in 1985 when it introduced New Coke, but once the company backtracked on that poor move, it brought back the original formula as well as a tweaked take on the original logo.

1886 Logo

Current Logo


In comparison, Pepsi has made some drastic changes to its branding since its inception in 1898. For its first 50 years, Pepsi had the same color combination as Coca-Cola: red and white. In 1950, the company added blue, and 12 years later it did away with the script font and went with sans serif. Two years ago, Pepsi raised eyebrows when it introduced a new branding campaign that mirrored Barack Obama’s presidential campaign logo. Pepsi had changed its font again, too. Any guesses on which brand – Coca-Cola or Pepsi – is recognized more?

1973 Logo

Current Logo UPDATED: 2005 logo


The Apple logo is so simple and recognizable by any geek out there. Yet it wasn’t always that way – the original 1976 logo was a portrait of Isaac Newton beneath an apple tree. Look closely and you might see it. Thank goodness the rainbow apple logo debuted shortly after, and while the colors have evolved throughout the years – currently sporting a blue chrome finish – the apple itself has remained. How appropriate.

Original Logo

1976 Logo

Current Logo


The green, black and white logo is seen everywhere, sometimes on every city block. But did you know that Starbucks’ maternal-looking mermaid used to be an exhibitionist? The company, which started in 1971 in Seattle, originally used a bare-chested mermaid on its branding, but when Starbucks started expanding like crazy, it realized that the image might be too risqué for its newfound customers. In 1987, the mermaid’s hair began covering her breasts. In 1992, even her navel was covered up.

Original Logo

Current Logo