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.
These two very different beginnings, which are happening only a few years apart, beautifully capture the eclectic nature of logo design.
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). .. 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. “
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.
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. . “
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.
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. “
Image above: The General Electric logo, which has not changed to date, is depicted on the New York World’s Fair building. 1935-45.