The stories behind the most famous logo designs

Even the best design needs some updates to stay relevant. Especially when a company has been around for so long, the old designs can start to look ancient. We’re going to walk you through the development of the logo designs of a few renowned brands of our age. And who knows, you might even get inspired to switch up your business logo.

As happy as a clam

Shell is a company with a history of more than 100 years. The word “Shell” as a company name dates even further back to 1891, when Shell was a trade company for antiques targeted at Victorians. Around 1897, Shell became a household name for the Shell Transport and Trading Company. The first logo was developed in 1901 and it was a mussel shell shape in plain black and white.

However, by 1904 Marcus Samuel, who was the founder of the company is said to have changed the mussel shape into a pecten shape. The idea to center the company branding around clams comes from the fact that all of the tankers, transporting kerosene were carrying names of different types of seashells.

As happy as a clam
As happy as a clam

The pecten shape has remained the famous shell design we know today, even though it went through significant changes over the past 100 years. We are going to focus on the colours. Around 1915 Shell was entering the market of California, where they faced some tough competition.

A way to stand out was to use bright colors for their service stations. Another problem was that Californians were notorious for getting offended from too bold combinations of meaningful colours, therefore Shell decided to go for a safe option, namely red and yellow, as a nod to the strong Spanish connections of the State of California.

As happy as a clam
As happy as a clam

I’m lovin’ it

This logo is more than 50 years old. It has had a heavy influence in popular culture. McDonald’s is a brand that has come to define the age we live in. But before the well-known gold arches were part of the logo of McDonald’s, their logo design in 1948 included a small figure of a winking chef holding a sign that said “I’m speedy”. This design was meant to advertise their most important unique selling point, namely that McDonald’s is a fast-food restaurant.

I’m lovin’ it

In 1961, one of the McDonald brothers came up with the idea of a golden arches logo. But before developing it, Ray Kroc bought the business and decided to make a logo, similar to the design of the restaurant.  

I’m lovin’ it

With the continuous growth of the business, Ray Kroc decided it was time to change up the logo to match that growth. In 1968 he launched the new logo with the golden arches resembling the letter “M”. Since then the logo has only gone through very small alterations. For example, in 2003, when McDonalds came up with their famous “I’m lovin’ it” campaign.

I’m lovin’ it

Red, blue and white

In 1898 Caleb Bradham created a drink called Brad’s Drink, which later was renamed Pepsi-Cola. The name comes from its main ingredients, namely the digestive enzyme Pepsi and kola nuts. After the drink started gaining some recognition, Bradham decided to create a logo for his brand. The original design dates back to 1898 and underwent some small changes in the typeface in 1905 and 1906. It was a simple red and white script logo.

Red, blue and white

It wasn’t until the 50s, when the iconic blue colour was introduced in the Pepsi logo. They also changed the typeface and changed its colour to blue.

More recently, in 2011, Pepsi came out with a simplified, very up-to-date with current design minimalist trends logo version, which still retains the same recognizable colours, but with a change in the font.  

Red, blue and white

There’s a story behind every famous logo. Creating a company logo is always a journey, because brands aim to be on trend at all times. What is your logo design story?