50 company logos, then and now
Company logos are often one of the most recognizable parts of a company's branding message, up there with slogans and spokespeople. The Nike Swoosh seems almost as familiar to some consumers as a beloved cartoon character, synonymous with a favorite product or experience. Logos can signify a product to consumers with no need to convey any other additional information like a sales pitch or photograph.
With that in mind, Stacker rounded up 50 iconic company logos and took a look at how they've changed over time. While changing a logo may not affect a company's core business or offerings, it can definitely affect the way consumers see them and how easily they're recognized.
While most logos are updated to keep up with the times and trends, logos can also change or be discontinued because of controversy. In response to a wave of protests following the death of George Floyd, Quaker Oats and Mars on June 17, 2020, announced they would be removing racial stereotypes in their brands. Quaker Oats planned to no longer use its 130-year-old Aunt Jemima name or logo, while Mars said it would change its Uncle Ben's branding—although the company stopped short of providing specifics at the time.
A 2015 Nielsen study found that nearly six out of 10 people prefer to buy from a familiar brand. Rob Wengel, the managing director of Nielsen Innovation in the U.S., said In the introduction to the study that known brands "can signify quality and inspire confidence.” Whether it's a fast-food meal, plane ticket, or new car, Americans prefer to buy from a company they recognize and even admire—and a well-known logo can be one of the easiest ways to identify a familiar brand.
From Nike to Wendy's, read on to find out which company logos have gone under major redesigns and why.
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Originally founded in 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight as Blue Ribbon Sports, they renamed the company Nike Inc. in 1971. Named after the Greek goddess of victory, the label is famous for its waffle-soled running shoes, which were originally made on a waffle iron. Portland State University student Carolyn Davidson, who was paid $35 (approximately $200 today), designed the original logo.
Never quite sold on the original logo, Phil Knight dropped the company's name from the logo altogether in 1995. Today the lone swoosh is one of the most recognizable logos in the world, fitting for a company that reportedly sells 25 pairs of sneakers a second.
Currently the second-largest car maker in the world, Volkswagen was founded in 1937 by a Nazi trade union organization to create an automobile that every German family could own. The original logo was designed to mirror a swastika or the now infamous Nazi symbol.
Harkening back to its Nazi origins would not do for a carmaker in today's world. The current logo was designed in 2000 and has done away with all the swastika-like arms. A simple blue and white color scheme was intended to elicit feelings of class, excellence, and reliability from consumers.
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After three separate companies were merged in 1911, IBM was established as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording company. In 1924 the company was renamed International Business Machines. Their original logo was intended to illustrate their vision for futuristic designs and their intention to go global.
IBM's current logo, designed by Paul Rand in 1972, made the company more modern and increase its appeal to customers. Valued at $32.1 billion as of 2018, the company has certainly succeeded in appealing to an ever-widening consumer base.
Begun by Alexander Graham Bell in tandem with his invention of the telephone in 1877, AT&T (or Ma Bell) had a monopoly on the telecommunications industry until a civil antitrust suit forced the company to split up in 1984. The bell in the original logo is a nod to the company's founder.
The globe logo, designed by Saul Bass, was introduced in 1983, just after AT&T split into several “baby bell” companies. The logo was later given a facelift which included making the globe 3D to represent the breadth and depth of services the company was once again providing.
Caleb Bradham invented Pepsi-Cola in 1893, selling the soft drink—originally marketed as a digestive aid—in his North Carolina pharmacy. The company's first logo, a swirly red script, was introduced in 1898 and closely resembles the Coca-Cola logo.
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Having undergone over a dozen iterations in the 126 years of company history, the current Pepsi logo was unveiled in 2014. The red, white, and blue ball is a hyper-minimized version of an old-school bottle cap, and the thin, lower-case font keeps the century-old beverage modern.2018 All rights reserved.