Can you guess these brands from their old logo?
You might think you know everything when it comes to logo design, but how far back do you go? Many of today’s most famous logos started life looking very different – and we’ve got six great examples of them.
While all of our all-time best logos are instantly recognizable, many of their original versions are anything but. Below you’ll only see a close-up of each original logo – can you identify the brand from that?
Once you have defined your answer, click the right arrow on the image and you will see the original logo in its entirety. It might help clear things up – or maybe confuse things further. Finally, click on the arrow again and you will find the modern logo of the brand. Good luck!
01. Buddhist beauty
Japanese camera maker Canon may have been around for almost a century (and it’s on our list of the best cameras), but it doesn’t always have the same name.
The company was originally founded as Seikikōgaku kenkyūsho and produced the Kwanon, a prototype of Japan’s very first 35mm camera with a focal plane-based shutter.
The original illustrated logo from 1934 depicts Bodhisattva Kwan’on, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, who would embody the company’s vision to create the best cameras in the world. And the illustration of “Kwanon with 1000 arms”, surrounded by flames, certainly attracts attention.
However, when the company began its large-scale commercialization in 1935, it changed its name to Canon and introduced a new, more corporate logo, although notable for the innovative style of its letter “C”, with a sharp point in high.
Over the next two decades, the Kwannon brand and its wilder and more expressive logo gradually came into being. The current version of the Canon logo dates back to 1956, which in terms of longevity is impressive to say the least.
02. Monochrome magic
Yes, energy giant Shell has always had a shell for its logo emblem, although it is very different from today’s well-known yellow and red emblem.
The original mark, a flat, monochrome scallop, first appeared in 1891 to represent kerosene shipped to the Far East by a small London-based company Marcus Samuel and Company, which originally sold antiques , trinkets and … you guessed it. .. oriental shells.
In 1987, this design inspired the name of Samuel’s new Shell Transport and Trading Company. In 1904, the familiar Pecten seashell logo was introduced, although still in black and white, until the famous palette of yellow and red was added in 1948.
This color scheme would have been inspired by the Spanish flag and would have been used for the first time in the new gas stations opened in California; a state with close ties to the Iberian nation.
03. If the shoe fits …
German shoemaker Adolf Dassler started making shoes in 1924 and registered his company name as “Adi Dassler adidas Sportschuhfabrik” in 1949.
Its original illustrated logo, centered around a black and white line drawing of a running shoe, draws attention to the spikes that Dassler was known to make.
You’ll also notice that it featured the same font that has continued to play a role in multiple modern adidas logos. You can read more about them in our article How the Adidas logo earned its stripes.
04. Circular logic
Okay, we cheated you a bit: IBM actually started life in 1888 as ITRC, the International Time Recording Company. Its main products were mechanical clocks invented and patented by Willard L. Bundy.
ITR then merged with the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911, which was later renamed International Business Machines, or IBM, in 1924.
The current IBM logo, designed in 1972, has become an iconic symbol of the computer age over the past half century. It was created by Paul Rand, one of the most famous graphic designers in history, and is beautiful and elegant in its simplicity.
You can see a full rundown of all IBM logos and the thinking behind them, at number 9 on our list of the best logos of all time.
05. Country scene
Apple’s very first logo, designed in 1976 by Ronald Wayne, looked more like the illustrated crest of a university or scientific society than a tech company.
Showing Isaac Newton under an apple tree, with an apple hanging over his head, this detailed illustration was designed by Apple Computers co-founder Ronald Wayne. The sentence on the outer border reads: “Newton… A spirit forever traveling through strange seas of thoughts… Alone. “
It’s a beautiful design, but Steve Jobs would have thought it was too old-fashioned and so quickly hired graphic designer Rob Janoff to come up with something more modern.
Released later in 1976, the ‘bitten apple’ emblem quickly became an icon and, despite the odd change in color, remains one of the most recognized logos in the world today.
06. Feathered friend
06. Feathered friend
Today, equally famous for its electronic keyboards and motorcycles, Yamaha was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha as a manufacturer of pianos and reed organs.
Its original mark, established in 1898, showed a Chinese phoenix holding a tuning fork in its mouthpiece, and was known to be used on top quality organs of the time; a real sign of quality.
The logo has undergone multiple changes since then, but the tuning fork is still represented in the modern Yamaha brand.
The three tuning forks of the Yamaha logo today are said to represent the cooperative relationship that connects the three pillars of its business: technology, production and sales.
How did you do? Want to test yourself even more? Now see if you can spot the mistakes in these famous logos.