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What Are Some of the Best Logos in the World?

Some people will tell you that logos don’t really matter.

They say that even when they’re debated over, tweaked to within an inch of their lives, and updated over time, they’re only a small part of the brand’s overall identity.

I’m not sure I agree with that. You see, for as complex as a modern brand is, the logo remains its cornerstone.

A bad (or good) logo may well become relatively insignificant over time, but do you really want something ugly, dated, or garish attached to your business?

Why do logos matter?

Company logos do a brilliant job of stealthily making their way into your minds. Without realising it, we attach meaning to them and, as a brand becomes more important to us, we care about them.

We might even buy a mug or piece of branded clothing adorned with the logo in question.

Some branding experts will tell you that a brand belongs to its customers. It’s why we see people ferociously discussing the benefits of Android over Apple, or only ever buying one brand of trainer.

The discussion around logos goes far beyond marketing meetings and board room debates. It’s fun, too, which is why I’ve decided to pick out six of what I believe to be the best logos in the world.

1. Well, ain’t that obvious: Shell

I dread to think about how much money is needlessly spent on logo design when, sometimes, it’s best to go with the most obvious.

Take the Anglo-Dutch company, Shell, for instance. One of its founders, Marcus Samuel, started his career selling shells from a bric-a-brac shop in the East End of London in the 1830s.

When he began selling kerosine to the Far East in 1891, a simple shell echoed the name of his company. Its bright colours and bold design may look a little different today, but it’s still as intrinsically linked to the company name as it always was.

2. Just design it: Nike

Arguably one of the most recognisable logos of all time, the Nike ‘swoosh’ is a lesson in simplicity.

More interestingly, it cost just $35 back in 1971 (although the designer was later sent a gold diamond ring embedded with the swoosh as a “thank you” from founder Phillip Knight).

It has barely changed since because, well, it just doesn’t need to. The Nike swoosh is an example of a logo which contains zero frills, but which has helped sign up an army of fans with an undying loyalty towards the brand.

3. That’s comforting: Woolmark

It’s a logo which can be found in the homes of most people throughout the world, but it’s arguably given very little thought by most of us.

What’s more, it isn’t even attached to a specific brand – it simply acts as confirmation that the product you’re buying comprises 50-99% pure wool.

Originally designed in 1963, the Woolmark logo is elegant and simple, but it performs an incredibly important function: it elicits a feeling of trust and comfort.

Imagine if your logo could do that without uttering a single word.

4. Gimme a bite of that: Apple

So common is the sight of Apple’s logo these days, it’s easy to forget that it has been through so many iterations.

The initial logo for Steve Jobs’ computer company was a complex, medieval illustration of Isaac Newton. That was back in 1976, after which it slowly morphed into an apple.

That apple has been multi-coloured, encased in stainless steel, and made a silhouette. But it has never returned to the complexity of its forerunner.

The now instantly recognisable logo was designed by Rob Janoff, whose main instruction from Jobs was to ensure it wasn’t “cute”. Arguably, he did a pretty good job of that, instead creating something which was only ever conceived with one version – and that’s the version that’s found today on the back of billions of smartphones.

5. Help when you need it most: The Red Cross

The best logos are economical. That means they’re easy to reproduce but still entirely unique.

The Red Cross logo is a perfect example of this. The Red Cross stands for neutrality and impartiality, but the logo is nothing more than a Red Cross on a white background. The arms should be of equal length and the background must be white.

This makes the logo easy to display, even when the materials available to create it are limited. And for something which is designed to convey its message instantly, that means an awful lot.

6. Mind the gap: London Underground

You’ve probably noticed a bit of a running theme with the logos I’ve chosen today: they’re all bold, uncomplicated, and immediately impactful.

The London Underground logo is no different. In fact, it’s hard to picture anything simpler than a red circle, blue bar, and white, capitalised lettering.

A logo of this kind has a pretty tricky job. It needs to be instantly recognisable and customisable so that it can be attached to different services within the London transport system (and the uniforms of employees).

Over the years, the only thing that has changed is a subtle tweak to the typeface (which most people will never notice). The result? A logo which defines a city and means everything from transportation to culture, business, and travel.

I love logos, but I also know how difficult they are to conceive. That’s why we’re here; if you’re stuck with your logo design or just need to know how to get started, get in touch – we’d love to help.