The meaning behind 12+ Famous logo designs you will see today

Last year I published a post demonstrating some of the reasons why most clients will always perceive logo design as a quick and cheap task.

There’s a lot of time and more importantly thought that goes into a development of a good and functional logo.

I have collected some of the well-known logos with a creative rationale behind their design, which hopefully will inspire other graphic designers and educate clients. Chances are you will see at least one of these logos before you go to bed tonight.

FedEx

creative rationale behind FedEx logo
If you concentrate your attention on the letters “E” and “x”. The negative space those 2 letters create, form an arrow pointing to the right side. This signifies forward or moving forward and this is what the company does.

Adidas

creative rationale behind Adidas logo
The shape of 3 stripes on the Adidas Logo represents a mountain, pointing out towards the challenges that are seen ahead and goals that can be achieved.

Amazon

creative rationale behind Amazon logo
The logo has an arrow pointing from A to Z. This signifies that they sell everything from A to Z. The arrow also forms a smile.

Apple

creative rationale behind Apple logo
The apple is a reference from the Bible story of Adam and Eve, where the apple represents the fruit of Tree of Knowledge, with a pun on ” byte/bite”. Rob Janoff, said in an interview that though he was mindful of the “byte/bite” pun (Apple’s slogan back then: “Byte into an Apple”), he designed the logo as such to “prevent the apple from looking like a cherry tomato.”

Audi

creative rationale behind Audi logo
The four rings, which make up the Audi logo, represent the four companies that were part of the Auto-Union Consortium in 1932. They were DKW, Horch, Wanderer and Audi.

BMW

creative rationale behind BMW logo
The BMW medallion represents a propeller of a plane in motion, and the blue represents the sky. This is because BMW has built engines for the German military planes in World War II. The colors are the national colors of Bavaria, which now forms a part of Germany. (Email update by: Christoph Lauber)

IBM

creative rationale behind IBM logo
If observed closely, the IBM logo, also known as “Big Blue”, generates a message of “Equality”. The Big Blue IBM logo, with its lower right parallel lines, highlights in the shape of an “equals” sign. Furthermore, the term “BIG” in the Big Blue IBM logo refers to the company’s size in the market share, whereas, the “BLUE” is the official color of the eight-bar IBM logo.

McDonalds

creative rationale behind McDonalds logo
The idea of ‘arches’ was first introduced by Dick and Mac McDonald as arch shaped signs on the sides of their then ‘walk-up hamburger stand’. From an angle, those arches looked like the letter “M” and thus, were incorporated in the McDonalds logo as a merger of the two golden arches together.

Mercedes-Benz

creative rationale behind Mercedes-Benz logo
The star in three corners represents the Mercedes-Benz dominance on land, sea and air.

Mobil

creative rationale behind Mobil logo
A simple typeface was used to attain exuberance and vitality. Red, being the intense color, evokes the strength and blue builds up a feeling of faithfulness and security for the company.

Volkswagen

creative rationale behind Volkswagen logo
The simple logo icon contains the letters V and W: “volks” means “people” and “wagen” means “car”.

Toyota

creative rationale behind Toyota logo
The Toyota logo contains three ellipses, which represent the heart of the customer, the heart of the product and the heart of technological progress and limitless opportunities of the future. In Japanese, “Toyo” signifies abundance, and “ta” means rice. In some Asian cultures, the rice represents wealth.

Puma

creative rationale behind Puma logo
The Puma logo has an image of a leaping Puma, an animal otherwise called a cougar, a panther or a mountain lion. Active both day and night, it is a powerful beast and an expert hunter that can jump to a maximum of 20 feet high in a single bounce. By incorporating the creature in the Puma logo, the company has summarized the complete meaning of its products into a powerful identity. The Puma logo itself characterizes the brand’s reliability and its products’.







  • Art176 Said:

    Great post!
    yet I read an interview about the FedEx logo creator,
    and in fact he didn’t notice the arrow,
    and the client noticed it and loved it!
    Completly random! :D
    — On January 26th, 2009 at 2:57 pm [permarlink]
  • David Morgan Said:

    The Apple logo was also used in rememberance to Alan Turing one of the fathers of Modern Computing who killed himself by biting into an apple laced with cyanide
    — On January 26th, 2009 at 3:50 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Art176,

    That’s a very interesting comment you make. Thanks for sharing and welcome.

    David Morgan,

    Welcome, I didn’t know that! Thanks for your informative comment.
    — On January 26th, 2009 at 3:59 pm [permarlink]
  • Art176 Said:

    Thanks to you Mokokoma, for starting the “subject”.
    — On January 26th, 2009 at 4:42 pm [permarlink]
  • Words of wisdom from world-renowned graphic designer, Paul Rand » Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Logo designer, Graphic designer and Website designer. Said:

    […] Mercedes symbol, for example, has nothing to do with automobiles; yet it is a great symbol, not because its design […]
    — On February 9th, 2009 at 10:24 am [permarlink]
  • links for 2009-02-22 | This Inspires Me Said:

    […] The meaning behind 12+ Famous logo designs you will see today! (tags: logo logos identity branding) […]
    — On February 22nd, 2009 at 12:04 pm [permarlink]
  • Gillenwater Designs Said:

    […] This signifies forward or moving forward and this is what the company does.  To see more click here. Posted in Graphic Design, Logo […]
    — On February 23rd, 2009 at 5:40 am [permarlink]
  • Fred Campbell Said:

    Nice work. I knew the FedEx one, but none of the others.
    — On March 12th, 2009 at 3:42 pm [permarlink]
  • Gaurav Batra Said:

    Is there any thought behind the Domino’s pizza logo….??
    — On April 23rd, 2009 at 9:04 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Gaurav Batra,

    Yes, there is.

    “The three dots on a Domino’s Pizza box represent the first three Domino’s stores. Monaghan had planned to add another dot for each new restaurant that opened, but given the rapid rate at which Domino’s opened new stores, that quickly became impractical.”

    (via http://www.historyofbranding.com/dominos.html)
    — On April 23rd, 2009 at 9:48 am [permarlink]
  • Graphic Design Blog Said:

    Wow…all these facts were real fun to know. Well, few days back I also came across a post which showed the older versions of these logos for famous corporate logos. I hope you won’t regret checking @ http://blog.corporatelogos.ws/classic-corporate-logos

    Thanks!!
    — On May 18th, 2009 at 1:34 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Graphic Design Blog,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing the link.
    — On May 18th, 2009 at 6:58 pm [permarlink]
  • Crobabe Said:

    BMW..nice concept.
    — On June 2nd, 2009 at 12:40 am [permarlink]
  • Mahlatse Madisha Said:

    My man you are doing a great job, I mean I didn’t know all of them man. Thanks!
    — On August 26th, 2009 at 5:00 pm [permarlink]
  • Abhishek Sharma Said:

    Great article except the information provided about the BMW logo is incorrect. In fact this has been a popular fact known to people that the BMW logo shows a rotating propeller and even BMW itself gave that explanation for a long time. Later it was revealed by them that the logo has nothing to do with a propeller. The checkered blue and white design is taken from the Bavarian flag, the German state home to BMW.
    — On October 19th, 2009 at 12:06 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Abhishek Sharma,

    Thanks for your comment — care to share the source for your findings in regards to the creative rationale behind the BMW logo?
    — On October 19th, 2009 at 1:17 pm [permarlink]
  • Wahengbam Jotin Singh Said:

    Dear Mokokoma Mokhonoana,

    The thing what u r providing is very beneficial to acknowledge for students & faculties of B-Schools as well. Thanks for this.

    Wahengbam Jotin Singh
    Manipur, India)
    Lecturer, GCBS, Bhutan
    — On April 1st, 2010 at 12:40 pm [permarlink]
  • Gideon Said:

    This bit of advice on these logos has really been of a help to me and I’m sure it has also been good to other art students.

    Keep up the good work.
    — On April 9th, 2010 at 1:34 am [permarlink]
  • Nitin Naik Said:

    This information has helped in writing a brief for my clients logo … great help!
    — On May 2nd, 2010 at 8:29 am [permarlink]
  • Suresh.M Said:

    Really superb and it will be helpful to many people. Thank you.
    — On July 12th, 2010 at 2:40 pm [permarlink]
  • Shivam Said:

    Not to offend u, but the BMW madellion reperesents a flag of some country.

    Saw it on Nat Geo.
    — On September 12th, 2010 at 1:08 pm [permarlink]
  • sindhuri Said:

    Great post and it has solved many of questions regarding logos. Thank you!
    — On April 24th, 2011 at 10:14 am [permarlink]
  • himanshu pandey Said:

    i like this collections of logos……thanks……
    — On April 29th, 2011 at 10:04 pm [permarlink]
  • Kailash Said:

    Its really great article.
    Thanks for the posting.
    — On May 31st, 2011 at 9:36 am [permarlink]
  • nagz Said:

    Very nice article. Got a lot of information about the logos. There is an interesting list of story behind logos on this site to0. Hope you like it.
    http://www.caleidoscope.in/design/story-behind-logos.html
    — On June 7th, 2011 at 8:53 pm [permarlink]
  • Shruti Walia Said:

    Good piece of knowledge. Can you also help us provide details on why and how were these products by their respective names. Like why is a dominos called a dominos or why is a mercedes called a mercedes. Im sure many of us would like to know the ideas that worked behind those wacky brains :)
    — On August 10th, 2011 at 8:49 am [permarlink]
  • dixit Said:

    Exceptional…..
    really it`s tiny but good tree of knowledge….!
    Thank u Sir.
    — On September 2nd, 2011 at 2:31 pm [permarlink]
  • Jignesh Garach Said:

    The study was awesome. I wanted to know that what do dominos pizza Logo indicate? Why do they have 3 dots?
    — On September 21st, 2011 at 2:52 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Jignesh,

    Gaurav Batra asked a similar question; which I answered (check comments above).
    — On September 22nd, 2011 at 9:18 am [permarlink]
  • Mithun Said:

    Guys please don’t create misconception regarding BMW’s logo. It came from Bavarian flag; and it was mistaken for propeller; which they later produced.
    — On October 19th, 2011 at 4:27 pm [permarlink]
  • ISAAC LORENTZ Said:

    This information has helped in writing a brief for my clients logo … great help!
    — On October 24th, 2011 at 11:32 am [permarlink]
  • ISAAC LORENTZ Said:

    This bit of advice on these logos has really been of a help to me and I’m sure it has also been good to other art students.
    — On October 24th, 2011 at 11:36 am [permarlink]
  • AsseeK Said:

    hello Mokokoma

    for the FEDEX logo, the arrow also points to the letter X which means the Target, meaning they deliver to the target fast.
    i want to thank u for the graet article which is helpful.
    keep up the good work man.
    — On November 3rd, 2011 at 11:12 am [permarlink]
  • Girish.... Said:

    Very gud post…i have linked it with my blog!
    Thankx keep it up!
    — On February 13th, 2012 at 2:09 pm [permarlink]
  • P. S. Seshadri Said:

    I stumbled upon this wonderful piece of writing on the meaning behind some great logos. Many thanks.
    — On March 28th, 2012 at 3:41 pm [permarlink]
  • Sexy Baby Said:

    Very Interesting Thoughts – Thanks for putting this up!!! :)
    — On March 31st, 2012 at 5:22 pm [permarlink]
  • Jabu Said:

    The four rings, which make up the Audi logo, represent the four companies that were part of the Auto-Union Consortium in 1932. They were DKW, Horch, Wanderer and Audi.

    DIG THIS!OOOO AUDI!
    — On April 18th, 2012 at 1:36 pm [permarlink]
  • dymous Said:

    Thanks for the information:-) i am glad that you posted these info about the company’s logo and the meaning of those:-)
    — On April 26th, 2012 at 4:28 am [permarlink]
  • Saki Said:

    Very interesting & informative…Helped me a lot to know the hidden meaning of these successful logos….Thnx once again..
    — On May 10th, 2012 at 11:12 am [permarlink]
  • Hary Said:

    Nice article, thank you for sharing!
    — On May 21st, 2012 at 9:43 pm [permarlink]
  • Logo Design and Corporate Branding | CML Blog – Financial Services & Legal Recruitment Firm | Offshore Jobs in Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Bermuda Said:

    […] Firstly, from Mokokoma Mokhonoana – http://mokokoma.co.za/the-meaning-behind-12-famous-logo-designs-you-will-see-today […]
    — On August 15th, 2012 at 12:29 am [permarlink]
  • Brad Said:

    The toyota logo contains every letter that is in the word “TOYOTA”
    — On August 26th, 2012 at 4:46 am [permarlink]
  • Heena Said:

    Very interesting & informative…. logos work subtly in many ways and these great successful companies are proof of that….thx for the writeup, I enjoyed it. pls post more info if possible.
    — On August 8th, 2013 at 8:27 am [permarlink]
  • Interesting Company Logos, Meanings Behind Them | Shikitokatateari's Blog Said:

    […] incorporated in the McDonalds logo as a merger of the two golden arches together.” The site: http://mokokoma.co.za/the-meaning-behind-12-famous-logo-designs-you-will-see-today/ Also tells about more companies and meanings into their […]
    — On March 19th, 2014 at 4:08 pm [permarlink]

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