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.

Nike

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

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

Pepsi

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

Apple

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

Starbucks

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

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  • Join the discussion

    • July 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but these logos did not change much over the years. It might look radically different from a 1970+ to 2000+ look but the changes to these logos was very gradual. And this is because while these brands need to become updated, they also needed to make sure that people still recognized their logos. I am amazed you didn’t include Tide’s logo here, that one is a classic study of how a corporate logo changes over time, but doesn’t really change at all :)

    • July 5, 2010 at 5:01 am

      I sort of dig the old pepsi logo.

    • June 30, 2010 at 1:58 am

      lol i play on a Nike “swoosh” soccer yeam, which is weird because i used to play on an Adidas sponsored team, i would have liked to see Adidas. The original Apple logo was really surprising, imagine that on your ipod!

    • May 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      Excellent collection!

    • April 23, 2010 at 9:36 am

      Another interesting logo transformation is the NBC Peacock (well originally they didn’t even had the peacock – just after their network went color). Its a really cool story. Always good to see how brands evolve/ stay current but still stay true to their identity. Thanks for sharing!

    • April 21, 2010 at 4:58 am

      Nice collection! I never have wondered that the first logo of Apple is like a champagne bottle logo. LOL

    • April 18, 2010 at 4:16 am

      Nike’s and Pepsi’s old logos are much more better ..

    • April 16, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      Yup, I accidentally uploaded the wrong image — the one above is from 2005. Thanks for pointing that out!

    • April 16, 2010 at 8:08 am

      @jeremiah Yeah, Pepsi did update their logo in 2008.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pepsi_logo_2008.svg

    • April 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      woh, the Starbucks logo had boobs!

    • April 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      nike: great logo

      thank you for the info.

    • April 14, 2010 at 3:57 pm

      Nice round up, some of the most iconic logos of our time, to see the changes they’ve made is pretty incredible.

    • April 14, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      That is not Pepsi’s current logo. It was updated, what, last year?

    • April 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm

      Interesting roundup. I never knew 1976 Apple logo was that one…. Cheers

    • April 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Awesome article. Some of these I knew, some were new. Honestly, if you had asked me what was in the center of the Starbucks logo, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. But I don’t drink much of their coffee…

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