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The Apple Logo: How They’ve Developed the Brand Over the Years

The statistics relating to Apple are mind boggling. During the second quarter of 2021, their iPhone revenue alone generated $47.94 billion.

That’s just one part of their business. In fact, most of their revenue streams, from the iPad to the Mac are astronomically successful and profitable businesses in their own right.

Yet, behind this success sits what is arguably one of the simplest brands ever created – and it has barely changed over the years.

However, look closer, and you’ll discover some fascinating changes made to Apple’s brand as the company has grown. They’ve been relatively subtle and cautious, but have enabled Apple to remain at the forefront of consumer technology.

Curiously, and for as much as we usually say “branding isn’t just about logos, you know!”, you’re about to discover that the branding approach adopted by Apple is almost entirely logo-first.

Here’s how they did it.

Apple Computer Co.

Bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? But this was the company name first conceived by founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976.

It was joined by a logo that was about as detailed and bold as they come. Crafted by hand with India ink, the logo featured mathematician Isaac Newton sitting beneath an apple tree with the name ‘Apple Computer Co.’ wrapped around it on a fabric banner.

The logo was ridiculously detailed.

Jobs was reportedly not particularly fond of his company’s first logo, and it proved difficult to reproduce in smaller sizes. So, just one year after its inception, Jobs tasked art director Rob Janoff with redesigning the company logo.

“Don’t make it cute,” was the only direction given.


Hello, rainbow

The next iteration of the Apple logo looks remarkably similar to the one that adorns its products today, albeit somewhat more colourful.

Isaac Newton was swiftly shown the back door, and in his place, Janoff opted for the most illustrative example of the company’s name – an apple.

In order to distinguish it from a cherry tomato, a ‘bite’ was added to the apple – something that was also a cheeky reference to the word ‘byte’, which is a term used consistently within computing and technology.

It also featured six colours – a term which is now lovingly referred to by Apple fans and which, to this day, inspires many of the company’s product designs and colour choices.

This particular logo had real staying power. In fact, it lasted in that form for 22 years!


Ooh, shiny!

In 1997, Jobs re-joined Apple after a hiatus that saw him invest in motion picture company Pixar and start an entirely new venture known as NeXT. His return resulted in a number of significant overhauls for a business which was nearing financial ruin.

One of the first was a rejig of the six colour Apple logo.

Those colours were removed entirely, and replaced with a high-gloss, two-tone metal sheen. Likely a reflection (literally) of the new design direction for Apple’s personal computers, the new logo was translucent, premium, and delivered the same lust factor as a brand new iMac.

Jobs was smart enough to realise that the outgoing colourful logo would look entirely out of place with his new line of Macs, and you can guarantee there was also a keen eye placed on the future products to which it would be attached.


The Apple logo of today

The logo placed on the back of your iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch is practically identical to the one introduced in the late 90s. But the genius behind it is how adaptable the logo is.

In 1998, Apple began using a monochrome version of the logo on certain products and within specific promotional material, and it’s that variant that we see pretty much everywhere today, in either black or white form.

The colours never returned, and nor did any form of embossing or colour graduation. It’s solid, clean, simple, and immediately recognisable.

Just like Apple’s revenue, the company’s logo is envied by businesses across the globe, and a brilliant example of how a logo can carry a brand – providing it remains simple, unique, and easily reproduced in any size or format.


In summary

As noted at the start of this blog, Apple’s approach to branding has been simple and cautious. This is similar to their product design philosophy; find something that works, perfect it, and extract as much value from it as possible.

Has the tale of Apple’s branding success inspired you? Just get in touch with the Be Smart team to talk through your own branding plans.

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