The Evolution of Logos in Marketing: Where Did It All Begin?

The Evolution of Logos in Marketing: Where Did It All Begin?

Written by:
Suzanne Vallance

May 27, 2016

op2When customers think of your brand, there are a million thoughts that rush to their minds. Although most of these thoughts are completely subconscious, marketers know that more often than not, these thoughts and emotions are exactly what the brand intended to evoke through a carefully crafted message.

Whether it be trust, playfulness or power, there are a wide range of emotions that can be triggered by the right combination of colors and text, which are expertly used by the most effective marketing campaigns. One of the fastest ways to deliver a specific message is through a dynamic logo, which is processed through the mind's eye of your audience.


A logo is the graphic symbol used by your company which allows it to be recognized by your audience. It is a visual representation of your brand’s identity that is used to instill trust and convey your chosen message to the public in an instant.

A logo has the ability to propel your brand into success, or crash and burn by the side of the road. Today, every organization speaks about the importance of a successful logo when planning their marketing strategy, but when did it all become so important?


The Beginning


The very beginning of logo design can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greece, where coins used to be monogrammed by rulers. Although since the earliest days of organized society, people have used a wide variety of symbols to decipher identification and social rank, this type of identification using symbols can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt.

The modern logo we recognize today can be traced back to the 13th century and the days of the Renaissance. This is when potters, stonemasons and goldsmiths first began to chisel and press logos on their works as a sign of ownership.

As time went on, society shifted and became more industrial. By the 19th century, there were more than 700 lithographic printers in the US alone, though the credit for art printed was assigned to the printing companies, rather than the artist or craftsman at this point in time.

Style and innovation continued to grow, and by the 1870s, colorful children’s books and newspapers were being printed as printing costs decreased. The infamous Victorian flair for style led to a huge expansion of expressive typography used to represent different businesses and brands.


The First Logo


Due to the huge increase of mass production in the Victorian era, there was a surge in interest in credit given for craftsmanship, leading to the beginning of exclusive logos. The first logo ever trademarked was in 1876 for Bass Brewery. It was a red triangle with the “Bass” text beneath, in a sweeping cursive text not dissimilar to Coca Cola’s instantly recognizable scrawl.

Color psychology also first emerged in the 1800s with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Theory of Colors,” in which red was described as conveying an impression of gravity and dignity. Was this what Bass was trying to evoke with its logo?

This trend of trademarking company logos continued steadily through to the invention of the television, when mass communication encouraged companies to adopt visual means of communication, leading us to the logos we recognize in marketing and branding today.

It’s clear that since ancient times, the practice of using logos has barely changed. Symbols are still used to convey a message about you or your brand without the need for language.


Logos in Marketing Today


Today, a logo is still the visual representation of your company’s identity, though the market is saturated and consumers are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of logos each day.

Did you know that 90% of all the information transmitted to our brains is visual and is processed 60,000 times faster than text? Armed with this knowledge, it’s no wonder brands are scrambling to create the perfect logo to resonate with their customers in an instant.

We treat logos like we treat familiar faces. We see scores of them every day, but only if we connect with or recognize them are we likely to become engaged in what they have to say. A brand’s logo goals should be to be memorable and evoke fondness– just like human interaction. So why should brands, big and small, invest in a professionally designed logo?

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A defined logo makes your business appear stable. Companies who adopt the attitude of ever-changing “looks” will confuse its customers; if the business looks like it can’t make its mind up about its logo, then prospective customers will assume this instability also applies to the way the company is run.

When considering a logo in today’s market, there is a wealth of knowledge about color psychology that was unknown in the early days of logo design. We are affected both consciously and subconsciously by color. 

Today, we know that red evokes passion and action, while blue instills trust and loyalty. Red Bull and Virgin are two hugely successful brands that use red to connect with their target audiences. Blue, on the other hand, is used by financial and technological authorities such as IBM and Barclays.

(Read more on how to use color psychology in marketing here.)


Modern Successful Logos


One of today’s most successful brands is Google. So much so that the word has infiltrated modern language and has become a verb in itself. Coming in at number 5 on Forbes' Most Valuable Brands List of 2015, its logo is a good example of successful branding.

Google successfully re-branded its logo in September 2015, cementing it as a playful and creative company, known for April Fools' pranks. Its “flat style” design incorporates a sans serif font, sandwiching a bright yellow “O” that connotes warmth and optimism in between primary colors, hinting to the audience that this business is offbeat and does not take itself too seriously. Google’s brand is so successful that it can be recognized with just its colors alone, with the letters removed.

Of course, not all brands are successful. Even heavy hitters, who we all think would be untouchable, have fallen into the trap of poorly designed logos, resulting in a marketing nightmare.

For example, the 2012 Olympic logo became a viral storm and came under mass scrutiny in the media when it was likened to an X-rated image. For smaller businesses, this trap can be sidestepped by consulting with a professional logo designer, who will guide you through effective design techniques and point out possible failings, ensuring your message will not be misconstrued or mocked.


Powerful Marketing Tool


Logos are one of the most powerful marketing tools businesses have at their disposal, reflecting the values and principles they advocate. Today, much like in the days of Ancient Egypt, Greece and industrial Britain, your logo acts like a signature, not only used for claiming ownership but protecting against forgeries and imitations.

An effective logo creates brand loyalty and becomes a status symbol for those who carry it on their clothes, bags and accessories. To cement this ideal further, companies should use their logo every time their service is mentioned.

As mentioned, the market is flooded with logos so in order to stand out from the crowd companies must consider their unique values, customers and values in order to create a logo that separates them from the competition.

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    About the Author

    Suzanne Vallance from Glasgow, Scotland is the content writer for Repeat Logo. With roots in Fashion and Marketing she has combined these creative and logical skills to focus her career on writing specifically to assist brands and start-ups.

    4 responses to “The Evolution of Logos in Marketing: Where Did It All Begin?”

    1. Whyte says:

      Please when was this article published here ?

    2. George William says:

      Amazing article about logos, every logo design needs a change by time. thanks for sharing this article.

    3. Ade Rastiardi says:

      very interesting article! Looking forward to the next articles

    4. akshay says:

      Amazing article about logos, every logo design needs a change by time. thanks for sharing this article.

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