I'm a branding expert and graphic designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Need help with branding?—Just Get in touch
You don’t have to stand in Times Square to get bombarded by logos.
From the moment we wake up, logos are an ever-present part of our daily routine.
Think about the logos on your clothes tags, in your bathroom drawer, and kitchen.
Then there are the logos you see on the computer, TV, billboards and signs when walking down the street.
In the United States, the average person is exposed to over a 1,000 logos every day.
And if you’re in high exposure settings like at a mall or an airport—Even upwards of 5,000 logos per day.
Logos surround us wherever we go. But where do they come from?
How did these iconic symbols come to be?
Hello, My name is Arek Dvornechuck and I’m a branding expert with the mission is to help others design iconic brands.
So in this video, we'll explore the history of branding and the origins of some of the world's most famous logos.
Before we dive into the fascinating world of logos, let's first understand the early history of branding.
Branding, in its simplest form, is the practice of marking or identifying a product or service to distinguish it from others.
It dates back thousands of years to ancient civilizations.
In ancient Egypt, symbols and hieroglyphs were used to mark goods and identify their origins.
Similarly, the Romans marked their pottery and coins with symbols to indicate their quality and authenticity.
Even medieval guilds had their own unique symbols to represent their trades.
Here we also have cattle branding—the practice involved burning a distinctive symbol, mark or pattern onto the hide of the animal using a hot iron.
This permanent mark allowed cattlemen to distinguish their livestock from others.
In the 1500s, as Spanish settlers brought cattle ranching traditions to the Americas, branding became ubiquitous across the new frontier.
Cowboy culture in the American West centered around the branding process.
Roundups were held each spring to brand new calves—and brands were registered to ranchers to prevent cattle stealing.
So just to sum up—early forms of branding involved craft guilds placing identifying marks on their products.
So these examples of marks represent some of the earliest precursors to modern logos and branding.
And this brings as to talking about the actual first trademarks, when the trademark law was first introduced.
As manufacturing advanced during the Industrial Revolution, products were no longer predominantly made by local craftsmen and guilds.
Instead, goods came to be mass-produced in factories and sold across regions.
Without personal interaction between producer and consumer, it became difficult to identify who made what.
By the late 1800s, grocery store shelves were lined with virtually identical products in plain packaging.
However, shoppers had no easy way to identify one brand from another.
This gave rise to one of the first modern forms of branding - trademarks.
A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by a business to identify their products or services.
One of the earliest registered trademarks was the Bass triangle logo.
In 1876, Bass Brewery became the first company to trademark their logo - a red triangle.
This enabled customers to recognize their pale ale amidst the new influx of brands.
The logo is still in use today, making it the world's oldest continuously used trademark.
And then with booming mass production more and more companies followed the suit.
Other early iconic trademarks include:
By the late 1800s and early 1900’s consumers could rely on these logo as an indicator of authenticity and quality.
This visual branding helped consumers identify and select their preferred brands.
Visual identities started to convey brand personality and at the same time build loyalty among consumers.
And with greater brand recognition came increased sales and profits.
The rise of mass media in the early 20th century opened up new avenues for branding and advertising.
Radio enabled companies to promote their products with jingles to reach household consumers for the first time.
Brand sponsorships of radio programs also became increasingly common.
Popular radio shows were often named after or "brought to you by" certain brands.
So in the 1950s, television became widespread in American homes.
And TV commercials brought logos and branding to life using sight, sound and motion.
Many brands created catchy jingles and slogans tailored specifically for TV.
Seeing brands on the TV screen strengthened public recognition and familiarity.
Product placement in TV shows also emerged as an early form of embedded marketing.
Overall, the rise of broadcast media enabled brands to reach larger audiences
and cement themselves through catchy jingles, slogans and of course iconic logos.
In the post-war era, branding and design transformed yet again.
Brand management emerged as a strategic business discipline.
Companies realized the economic value of brands as corporate assets, so they began investing more resources into managing brand identities.
This is the era when logos evolved to become more eye-catching, minimalist and modern.
Visuals were tailored to stand out on grocery shelves flooded with product choices.
Branding also expanded beyond just advertising.
Companies focused on cultivating brand image and consumer experiences.
Everything from retail spaces to employee uniforms reinforced brand identity.
Overall, modern branding became more strategic, visual, and experiential during this era.
Companies realized the power of brands to connect emotionally with consumers and drive business growth.
Therefore more importance was put on strong branding which quickly became synonymous with competitive advantage.
Then proliferation of digital media opened up yet new frontiers for brands to explore.
In the internet age, logos were adapted to be more effective on small smartphone and computer displays.
QR codes and interactive branding also emerged, allowing logos to be more functional
Brands could now interact with audiences through apps and filters
With social media, brands could engage audiences and spread awareness virally.
So therefore social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok became key marketing channels for brands.
And data analytics provided valuable consumer insights to tailor their branding to consumers.
But brand authenticity and compelling storytelling remained important amidst all the digital noise.
Some brands focused on cultivating a very distinct visual identity.
Overall, digital platforms enabled more personalized, interactive branding opportunities while posing new design challenges.
Branding remains vital in making connections and standing out in the internet age.
Looking ahead, how might branding continue to evolve in the future?
Experts predict logo designs will become even more minimalist and flexible.
Simple, scalable logos that can adapt across contexts will prevail.
Brand identities will likely grow more dynamic and responsive.
And perhaps logos that could change in real-time based on interactions.
Also virtual and augmented reality opens new 3D spaces for brands to explore.
So as technology advances, brands must balance innovation with accessibility.
While logos and visuals will modernize, connecting with audiences on a core human level remains timeless.
Brands must nurture their unique stories.
It is presumed that authenticity, transparency and social responsibility will rise in importance for brands.
This is because consumers today demand much more than just clever marketing.
The companies that will thrive are those that adapt their brands while staying grounded in meaningful values.
Now, just to sum up—Branding emerged thousands of years ago as marks of ownership and craftsmanship.
But as manufacturing advanced during the Industrial Revolution, logos became critical for companies to distinguish their products.
Then mass media emerged which amplified brand recognition through radio, TV and advertising.
Then we have the internet age that brought new forms of interactive and virtual branding.
Now, looking ahead, brands must continue adapting their identities for the future, while also staying true to their core.
Above all, a logo serves as the visual representation of a brand.
So the core logo design principles should remain the same:
A logo must be still simple enough so it can be used flexibly across various media.
Besides being simple, a logo must also be memorable...
Which means it should be distinctive enough to be easily remembered and then recognized.
And of course, a logo must be appropriate for the brand....
which means it should be relevant in form and concept to the business and its industry.
Which is a quite challenge these days to marry those 3 principles, but if done well
You can create a logo that will retain a timeless appeal over the years and perhaps even decades.
Ultimately, your goal is to create something that has a potential to become iconic.
With that being said—If you’re looking for a logo designer, you know where to find me.
I'm a branding expert and graphic designer based in NY. I specialize in the development of brands: brand strategy, identity & web design. Need help with your project?—Get in touch