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Logos through the ages

Matt Roebuck

A logo is a visual representation of a company’s or individual’s brand. A successful logo design effectively conveys your brand message and image, but over time these will no doubt go through changes. We have taken a look at some of the world’s most instantly recognisable brands to see how their logos have changed over the years…



The Apple brand is as recognisable as the company is profitable. The first Apple product, the “Apple 1” personal computer kit, was launched in 1976 along with their first logo which is a depiction of Sir Issac Newton and was drawn by company co-founder, Ronald Wayne. In 1977, Rob Janoff created the iconic “rainbow” Apple logo, which has since undergone various changes.




Chelsea FC

Heres one for the sports fans. Since their inception in 1905, Chelsea have gone on to become one of the most successful teams in the history of British football, with their logo has become one of the most instantly recognisable in world sport. Chelsea adopted as their first crest the image of a Chelsea pensioner, which contributed to the club’s “pensioner” nickname and remained for the next half-century, though it never appeared on the shirts.

As part of Ted Drake’s modernisation of the club from 1952 onwards, he insisted that the pensioner badge be removed. A badge featuring the initials “C.F.C.” were temporarily used for just one season, before being replaced in 1953 with an logo featuring a image of a lion holding a staff, which was based on elements in the coat of arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea. This remained for three decades until the logo was again updated in 1986 to a version which featured a more naturalistic looking lion and was re-created in different colour variations during it’s time including red, white and yellow.

Leading up to the club’s centenary, the logo was most recently changed in 2005 to celebrate with this design still remaining today.



DC Comics

The DC logo has changed dramatically since it first appeared on the April 1940 issues of it’s titles. It was first updated after just over a year to incorporate the name of arguably DC’s most famous super-hero, Superman. The logo was again tweaked in 1949 to include the company’s formal name, “National Comics”, which also saw the introduction of colour.

The first major overhaul came in 1970, when for the first time the circular logo was dropped in favour of a rectangular box containing the the company name and an image of the lead character (of the particular comic the logo would appear on) either above or below the rectangle. This lasted just two years before the circular logo style was re-introduced – this time featuring a block-like typeface – which in 1974 was updated again to feature the words “the line of super stars”.

In 1976 notable graphic designer Milton Glaser (whose work included the ” I ♥ NY” logo) designed “The Bullet”, which went onto become DC’s longest running logo. It was replaced in 2005 by “The Spin”, created by Josh Beatman of Brainchild Studios. The logo was most recently updated in 2012, featuring the letter “D” pealing back to reveal the letter “C”, and was first used on-screen for “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises”.




The legendary Henry Ford, in collaboration with Dodge Brothers, established what is still one of the world’s most successful car companies way back in 1903. While the logo has changed steadily over the years, its most recognisable feature has remained the same for over a century – the iconic Ford typeface. This was originally designed by one of the first employees of the Ford Motor Company, C. Harold Willis, who was a contributor to the design of the world’s first “affordable automobile”, the Model T.

Ford’s current logo was updated in 2003 to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary.




KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1952, and to this day his face remains key to the KFC logo. The logo was first updated in 1978, and remained the same until 1991 when the company changed its name from “Kentucky Fried Chicken” to “KFC” in an attempt to move away from the unhealthy connotation surrounding the word “fried”.

Following it’s 1997 overhaul, the logo has remained largely the same with a few minor alterations including swapping the bright red to a darker colour and replacing the Colonel’s iconic white suit with an apron, while retaining his famous glasses and bow tie.




Pepsi was launched as “Brad’s Drink” in 1893 by pharmacist, Caleb Bradham, who also scribbled down the original Pepsi logo when the name of the drink was changed to “Pepsi Cola”. This typographical logo evolved steadily for half a century, before the introduction of the Pepsi bottle cap in 1951 which also saw the famous blue colour utilised for the first time.

Ten years later, the company dropped the word “cola” from the name and again updated its logo. The bottle cap remained a feature until the logo’s 1971 re-design, which saw the arrival of the now world-famous Pepsi “globe”. This version underwent very minor tweaks during its tenure (including modernising the typeface), until it was eventually replaced in 1991 with a version depicting the name outside of the Pepsi “globe”.

In 1998, Pepsi changed the colour of it’s bottles to blue and introduced a new logo to fit. This design was modernised in 2005 and remained until 2009 when the iconic “globe” was changed to be two dimensional, with the globe’s “swirl” changed to look like a smile – changing size according to the type of Pepsi.




The world’s most famous chain of high street coffee shops takes it’s name from Herman Melville’s American classic, Moby-Dick (the chief mate on the “Pequod”, a whaling ship in the book, named Starbuck), and centres it’s logo around the “Siren” – a twin-tailed mermaid.

According to Greek mythology, Sirens lured sailors to shipwreck off the coast of an island in the South Pacific. The purpose of the Siren in Starbuck’s logo is a symbolic reference, aiming to “lure” in coffee lovers.

The original, predominantly brown logo was replaced in 1987 with Starbuck’s icon green, black and white version. This underwent only very minor alterations until 2011 when the logo was completely changed to feature only a green image of the Siren, dropping company name and stars which has previously been used.



Is your logo due an update?

Here at Redbak our branding experts help out businesses across all industries build effective brand identities, including logo design. If you think its time to refresh the look of your company then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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