Fascinating stories behind the world’s oldest logos

by AryanArtnews
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Written by Jacopo Prisco, CNN

The oldest registered trademark in the United States dates back to 1870, submitted by paint maker Averill. An eagle with a paintbrush is drawn on the beak against the backdrop of Chicago. The phrase “durable, beautiful and economical” appears in Banderole. It feels very quaint to the modern eye.

Five years later, Bass Brewery in the United Kingdom registered its first trademark in Europe. This is a simple red triangle that feels modern in comparison. It is also found in beer bottles in paintings by Edouard Manet and Pablo Picasso, and is still used as the base logo.

These two very different beginnings, which are happening only a few years apart, beautifully capture the eclectic nature of logo design.

Rudimentary logos, such as those found in ancient Greek pottery, have existed for thousands of years, but modern logo design began in the mid-19th century, Jens, author of “The Beginning of the Logo.” Muller says. A book recording the early history of the logo.

This 1930 Louis Vuitton ad, created in 1890, shows how the company deliberately used the logo in interlocking letters. credit: Courtesy of Taschen

“It started in the 1850s, industrialization and branding began,” Muller said in a telephone interview.

Müller added that it was then that the trade in manufactured goods began to exceed regional distribution. The logo was created as necessary to identify, distinguish and improve a product from competitors, or to tell the story and history of a product. As soon as brands and the symbols used to represent them emerged, efforts continued to legally protect them from imitation.

Interestingly, the two earliest trademarks in the United States and Europe also represent the two most basic types of logos, the figurative logo and the abstract logo. According to Muller, all logos can be attributed to one of these groups, but there are also many subcategories.

Wordmarks are a type of logo that consists only of text such as company names and monograms. Other types of logos include emblems, BMW logos and other images and text circular stamp-like placements. Images of characters representing brands such as mascots and the KFC logo. Picture marks are based on similar graphic elements such as icons or the Apple logo.

The original logo of paint maker Averill (above) was the first trademark submitted in the United States in 1970. British beer producer Bass submitted the first European trademark in 1875. The red triangle it contains is still in the current logo (below).  ..

The original logo of paint maker Averill (above) was the first trademark submitted in the United States in 1970. British beer producer Bass submitted the first European trademark in 1875. The red triangle it contains is still in the current logo (below). .. credit: Courtesy of Taschen

“In general, there are about 25 to 30 categories where all logos fit, whether created in 1870 or 2021,” Muller said.

To reach this conclusion, Muller scrutinized nearly 10,000 logos. “One of the things I didn’t expect was the large number of handwritten wordmarks, such as the signature of the founder of the company. The most famous ones are still used today in their original form. The Ford or Kellogg logo. “

Symbolic branding

Perhaps the most famous wordmark logo is the Coca-Cola logo, introduced in 1886 and designed by Frank M. Robinson in the then popular Spencer script. Robinson was the bookkeeper and business partner of John S. Pemberton, the inventor of the drink. It remained virtually unchanged and was registered in 1893 when the word “trademark” was added to the first “C” long tail.

There was a reason for that explicit reminder to exist. The Coca-Cola logo will soon be surrounded by impersonators. In 1923, the company published a collection of court orders against competitors who created similar logos on their products. There were 700 pages.

"The beginning of the logo," Available in Europe, scheduled for release in the United States in March, it records the early history of the logo.

Available in Europe, scheduled for release in the United States in March, “Logo Beginnings” marks the early history of the logo. credit: Courtesy of Taschen

By this time, the importance of branding and logos became apparent. The 1930 ad from Louis Vuitton is dominated by the “LV” mark itself, with two letters surrounding images of several packages lined up in a similar composition. “This is a good example of a company that discovered the importance of branding early on, and with iconic branding, you can sell your products much better,” Muller said. “Many years before the golden age of advertising (1960-1980), it shows how companies began to understand that much of their value comes from brands and logo designs. . “

Minimalist design

One of the major trends in the history of logo design is the evolution from glamorous and figurative marks to more deliberately reduced and streamlined aesthetics. However, this did not begin until the early 20th century.

A classic example of this rationalization is the logo of the American multinational 3M, well known for the Post-it and Scotch Tape brands. The business name was “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company” and was reflected in the early logo before it was shortened to “3-M” in the early 1900s. In 1977, New York agency Siegel + Gale used the popular Helvetica font and red to make the logo even simpler and devised a version of the logo that is still in use today.

French tire maker Michelin 1921 advertisement, trademark letters "Bivendam," It is still used today.

The trademark letter “Bibendum” is still used in the 1921 advertisement of French tire manufacturer Michelin. credit: Courtesy of Taschen

“This is a good example of logo modernism, but it’s also a good example of branding that has actually been scaled down to the most minimalist design,” Muller said.

According to Muller, wordmarks are still very popular today because they help avoid confusion in a world with too many logos. “Many companies now prefer to use their name as a brand rather than an abstract design, so it’s unlikely that someone would raise their hand and say” have the same logo. ” It has become. ”

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about logo design is that it goes against a clear story. Muller said: It used to be a book like this-because it’s difficult to tell this story very clearly. “

“The beginning of the logo” Issued by TaschenAvailable in Europe and the United States.

Image above: The General Electric logo, which has not changed to date, is depicted on the New York World’s Fair building. 1935-45.


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