August 27, 2013
Yahoo sure knows how to get itself in the news. The company publicized “30 days of change” leading up to a new logo unveiling this September. The announcement got us thinking: What factors make a great logo?
Brands need to separate themselves from the competition, and part of doing that is building a unique identity. One of the easiest ways for brands to identify themselves is with their logos.
Since each brand is looking for that ready recognition, you can imagine the sheer volume of logos out there. Some are better than others, and some are just downright iconic.
So which logos will stand the test of time? To answer that, we staged some showdowns of iconic logos in different industries, and then deemed a winner.
In the world of delivery services: FedEx vs. UPS
FedEx and UPS are two of the biggest shipping and tracking businesses in the world — so anything less than world-class logos wouldn’t seem right. Fortunately for these two powerhouses, they’ve hit the mark.
FedEx at first glance is a simple design — just its name in purple and orange. But take a closer look and you’ll get a surprise:
Where the “E” meets the “x,” the white space forms an arrow. Perfect for a shipping company.
On the other end of the spectrum is UPS. Its logo is so iconic that the team at UPS chose a slogan to accompany the design: “What can Brown do for you?”
What makes the UPS logo so recognizable is the fact that it has had slight alterations in its century-long history.
However, FedEx takes the cake. Its simplicity, wit and timelessness are second to none.
In the world of beverages: Starbucks vs. Coca-Cola
Starbucks has taken a page out of the book of brands like Nike and Apple by removing their name from their logo entirely. It used to be a siren/mermaid encircled by a green “donut” that reads “STARBUCKS COFFEE.” Now, the Starbucks logo has evolved into a zoomed-in image of its ‘(now modest) siren.
Coca-Cola is a dynasty in its own right, and is certainly recognized worldwide. Its logo is seen on everything from its actual cans to billboards.
What’s remarkable is that like UPS, the Coca-Cola logo has barely changed in the last 100 years. The name itself, Coca-Cola, was actually suggested by creator John S. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, who thought the “two Cs would look well in advertising.” Seems like he was right.
Although Starbucks is a global name, the question still remains: why exactly does Starbucks have a mermaid/siren as its logo? For that reason, in the world of drinks, Coca-Cola comes out on top.
In the world of technology: Google vs. Apple
Google has a famously simple logo — classic serif font in blue, red, yellow and green. But what makes Google different is its Google Doodles. Google Doodles range from interactive games to maps to still images — but no matter the content or the occasion, the Google name is always there.
But what Google does to enhance its branding strategy is focus on its color scheme.
Any apps or extensions from Google stick to that same simple blue, red, yellow and green color scheme. It makes it easy for consumers to see with one glance that what they are looking at is a Google product.
Apple takes a literal approach to its logo, a chrome or white apple with a bite taken out. Some say that the logo is an homage to Alan Turing (one of the forefathers of computer science), who is said to have died by eating an apple laced with cyanide. Whether that’s true or not, Apple has rebranded and redesigned its logo to perfection each time — which is why in the world of technology, it takes the top logo spot.
Honorable mentions: Amazon, Warner Bros., and American Airlines
Amazon’s logo is cheeky, friendly and clever:
The arrow points from A to Z, implying that Amazon has everything for all of your needs. The friendly part? The yellow arrow also doubles as a smile, which Amazon draws attention to in some of its advertising, saying, “We are the people with the smile on the box.”
Warner Bros. has kept its classic “WB” logo, and, instead of changing it completely, has adapted it to film releases. Just take a look at how Warner Bros. revamped its logo for the Harry Potter series:
American Airlines revamped its logo earlier this year, and while it was a big departure for the brand, the result was worth it.
AA abandoned its logo in favor of a sleeker design:
The image at the end represents an airplane wing yes, but also doubles as an eagle in flight. Very relevant to the brand and very crisp.
It’s the ability to adapt without losing their brand identity that sets these logos apart from others, and makes them iconic. Hopefully they don’t rebrand anytime soon – and if they do, let’s hope they change by staying the same.
Alexander Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design and is a contributing author to DSL.com. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA, but you can reach Alex via his e-mail.