20 of the Most Iconic Logos

Logos, or logotypes, are the symbols that companies use to brand their products and allow the consumer to instantly link an emblem, set of words or even a colour scheme to merchandise. Successful marketing can create trust and brand loyalty, and good design work can attach iconic logos to these brands. This post brings together 20 examples of the most influential logos from today’s marketing world, winning examples of branding graphics.

1. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s is a ubiquitous product known around the world for the sweet, carbonated drink, made with a secret formula of ingredients. The marketing material associated with the drink has generated an instantly recognisable brand, with its red and white colour scheme, traditional lettering and contour bottle modelled on a cocoa pod. Drugstore owner John Pemberton created the beverage, and his bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, designed the iconic logo in 1895.

2. Olympics

The interlocking rings of the Olympic logo represent the five continents of the world, brought together in the spirit of the competition. While the Olympics can be traced back to ancient Greece, the founder of the modern games Baron Pierre de Coubertin created this logo in 1912.

3. Apple

Apple is an immensely popular electronics company know for Mac computers, iPod, iPhone and the new iPad. The original 1970s logo pictured a scene of Isaac Newton under a tree with an apple about to drop onto his head. In 1976, designer Rob Janoff created this logo with the rainbow colour scheme that was used until 1998.

4. McDonalds

McDonald’s is the world’s largest chain of fast food outlets, known for the distinctive letter ‘M’ logo. Jim Schindler designed the logo in 1962, taking inspiration from the golden arches built on the sides of the original restaurants.

5. Microsoft Windows

Bill Gate’s Microsoft dominates the personal computer market; the Windows operating system is familiar to any computer user, as is the four-colour window logo.

6. Nike

The iconic Nike swoosh represents the wing of the Greek goddess of the same name who was said to have inspired the feats of courageous warriors. Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student from Portland State University, created the logo in 1971 while freelancing with the sportswear company.

7. BBC

The BBC logo has evolved over time from the original television idents used to brand the broadcaster. In the 1990s, Martin Lambie-Nairn’s design company took charge of the idents, and eventually created the simplified logo seen above. The design is reminiscent of the corporation’s first logo from 1932, and employs a font based on London Underground’s typeface.

8. Audi

The rings of Audi’s logo represent the amalgamation of brands that formed the Auto Union of 1932: Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer. The logo bears a striking similarity to the Olympic Rings, causing the Olympic Committee to sue Audi in a small claims court in 1995.

9. Google

The search engine is so popular that word Google has entered the English language, and the company’s branding is also instantly eye-catching. There have been several adaptations of the wordmark logo since its inception in 1999; designer Ruth Kedar designed its current incarnation using the Catull typeface.

10. BMW

The Bavarian Motor Works was originally known for building aircraft engines, and the company logo was developed to represent the movement of a plane’s propeller cutting through the sky. The design also incorporates the blue and white of the Bavarian flag, reversed to create the BMW roundel.

11. Mercedes-Benz

Gottlieb Daimler designed the Mercedes-Benz logo, which debuted in 1909. The three-pointed star signifies the company ambition to dominate land, sea and air. The laurel wreath was added to the logo in 1926, when Benz was merged into the company.

12. BP

In 2000, British Petroleum was renamed BP and replaced its traditional shield emblem with this design, with the aim at highlighting the company’s green credentials.

13. IBM

Graphic designer Paul Rand created IBM’s ‘eight-bar’ logo in 1972. The horizontal stripes simultaneously represent speed and dynamism, while also making the logo easy to print with the reprographic technology of the 1970s.

14. Pepsi

Pepsi Cola has been around since the 1890s, and like its great rival Coca-Cola, has a brand image that has evolved over time to become one of the world’s most recognisable logos. The company currently uses a variety of variations such as this text-free example, identifiable by its red, white and blue waveform design.

15. Adidas

When Adi Dassler parted company with his brother (who went on to form Puma), he created the Adidas brand, and since its inception the company’s marketing material has featured the three-stripe motif.

16. Puma

After Rudolph Dassler angrily severed his partnership with his brother, he created Puma. The leaping big cat, representing the company’s potency, was first used in 1948 and continues to be used today with few modifications.

17. MTV

MTV changed the way people listen to and create pop music, and the logo, with its solid ‘M’ and graffiti-style ‘TV’, reflects music’s constant evolution. While the format remains the same, the design means the separate elements can be decorated with any pattern, colour or material.

18. Tesco

From humble beginnings, Tesco has gone on to dominate the retail market. The logo is based around the company name, which originates from when Sir Jack Cohen joining forces with TE Stockwell to create a grocery chain. The first shop called Tesco opened in 1929.

19. Marlboro

Phillip Morris’s Marlboro cigarette brand is famous for its billboards featuring Marlboro Man, and for its distinctive red and white packaging.

20. Starbucks

Starbucks’ logo is based on a 17th Century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed siren. Since Terry Heckler created it in 1971, the logo has been adapted and streamlined through various changes, mostly to make the siren’s body more modestly concealed.

Related posts:

  1. Designing a logo from scratch part 1: Creative Brainstorming
  2. 25 Best Examples of Negative Space Typography in Web Design

James is a blogger and designer who works for an online supplier of franking machine cartridges. Read more of his work on his blog.

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  1. jared thompson says:

    February 25, 2010

    really interesting topic, really digging the design of the site as well by the way.

  2. Simon Owen Design says:

    February 25, 2010

    Nice list, suprised no FedEx logo though.

  3. Blake Ferguson says:

    February 25, 2010

    The Nike information is incorrect. She was not free lancing with the company. Nike came to her community college with a design competition. She one the competition and I believe was paid her hefty winnings of fifty dollars.

  4. 20 Iconic, Influential Logos | Design Newz says:

    February 25, 2010

    [...] 20 Iconic, Influential Logos [...]

  5. Chrsitina Gammon says:

    February 25, 2010

    Great article. It helped me realize how basic these logos are. Straightforward and bold. So simplistic and look how popular they are. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Douglas Bonneville says:

    February 25, 2010

    Did Nike really get their logo from SPEC WORK? Oh man, wait till David Airey finds out :)


    I have never heard of TESCO before this post…FedEx should be up there for sure!

    Pepsi has tampered with their logo so many times over the years. The current “laughing” version is atrocious. When Coke tastes better than Pepsi, I guess it’s all Pepsi can do as the perennial runner-up to keep messing with branding :) :) :)

  7. Eish says:

    February 26, 2010

    I don’t get why the Google logo is considered to be good. It goes against everything I was taught, over embossing, too many colours, drop shadow. Is it because Google is taking over the world that we overlook these things?? I think it sucks. All the other logos are iconic tho.

  8. Robin Bastien says:

    February 26, 2010

    @Douglas - I’m with you on the pepsi branding, they seem to constantly be ‘scouting’ for ways to get ahead of coca cola. I always hated their cheap shot commercials with celebrities saying they prefer Pepsi. Coca Cola’s also the only company in the US that has the legal right to buy coca - still (and directly buy ‘spent leaves’ - the leaves after people finish extracting cocaine from it). This is what gives Coke an advantage on Pepsi, RC, Tucola, etc.

    @Eish: I also really dislike the Google logo - although like the infamous 2012 Olympic logo, it still remains iconic despite the obvious use of Photoshop filters.

  9. Steve Lambert says:

    February 28, 2010

    Never liked Google’s logo personally. I’d say it’s instantly recognizable more because of Google’s position in the market than anything else. Criminal that British Rail isn’t in there – one of the greatest logos EVER in my opinion.

  10. lalugee says:

    March 1, 2010

    Its extremely encouraging to see someone do so well..!

  11. Christopher Burd says:

    March 7, 2010

    The Windows logo is, and has always been, horrible. Remember the mid-90s versions where it used to wave like a little flag? It’s recognizable only because it belongs to an extremely successful company.

    The same could be said for the Google logo, though it’s mediocre rather than awful.

  12. Christopher Burd says:

    March 7, 2010

    As for the others, the best one is Apple’s, but the most influential is IBM’s. Block caps picked out in horizontal blue stripes: A thousand high-tech firms must have used that logo template.

  13. logo desgin says:

    March 27, 2010

    great design i like it and the information that you are sharing was awesome

  14. Manik says:

    October 12, 2010

    Nice collection of iconic logos. Its hard to find so many of the best logos together. You have done great job.
    Thanks for the post.

  15. pixi says:

    December 11, 2010

    I don’t think Google’s logo is so interesting…They have become a monster tech company thats make it’s logo popular or well known.