Corporate Logos: What Do They Mean? What Does It Matter?

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There’s a wide range of opinion out there on whether a cool corporate name or logo really matters. A good logo can’t fix a bad brand, and a bad logo probably won’t break a good company. But like a good interview suit, a good logo makes a strong first impression.

Pimlico racetrack has unveiled earlier this week its new logo as part of a campaign to revitalized its image.  The cupola weathervane references Pimlico’s history as the second oldest racetrack in America.  The streamlined, custom-designed “Pimlico typeface” suggests that the long tradition of horse racing in Baltimore is heading into a new era.  Nice.

Careful thought and research went into the Pimlico re-design, to be sure, but most logos, not so much. Let’s have a look.

The Amazon logo was created to send the message that it sells everything from A-Z, and that you would have a good time doing it. See the smile?

Toblerone chocolate was created in the town of Bern, in the Swiss Alps. The symbol of Bern is the bear. Look closely at the snowcapped mountain and find the bear.

One of the most beloved of car logos, registered in 1917, the BMW logo has long been believed to stand for the rotating propeller of the Bavarian Motor Works — symbolizing its origins as a military aircraft engine maker during WW1. The company actually denies this, claiming it is simply a variation on the colors of the Bavarian flag.

The iconic ‘swoosh’ is said to represent the wing of Nike, Greek goddess of victory. The designer charged $2/ hour for her time and was famously paid $35 for the logo. Creative types everywhere will respond to the client’s initial reaction on first seeing this now globally recognized design … “what else you got?”

The upward slash in the Deutsche Bank corporate logo represents growth, and the square surrounding it represents boundaries. “Growth within a controlled environment.” So German, right?

The Apple logo has undergone several iterations over the years. In 1976, Steve Jobs had been working in an organic apple orchard, and concluded that the apple was “the perfect fruit,” signifying, as it does,  the biblical “tree of all knowledge.”  The first logo showed Newton being brained by an apple, and was soon rejected as being too intellectual. It was replaced by the playfully colored, simplified apple with a bite (byte) taken out.

Facebook’s logo is a custom-designed font in what is now known as “Facebook blue.” Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind, and chose blue as the color he could best distinguish.

 



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