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Flying Hippo’s Favorite Five: Logos

Scott Helms

By Scott Helms

Take a second to imagine your favorite brands. What comes to mind? Probably the product that you love so much, or a recent experience you had with that brand. But what else pops into that noggin’? Chances are good that a picture of their brand style and logo come into your noodle too, without even knowing it. Just the mention of a goliath company or brand, and boom—you’ll see it. McDonalds? Those golden arches. Nike? That iconic swoosh. Target? That red bullseye.

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I could go on and on about the importance of logos when it comes to building a brand that resonates, and choosing five of my favorite logos of all time was next to impossible because there are so many that I love! So, to make it a little easier, I decided to break up this edition of Flying Hippo’s Favorite Five into five broader categories. Here are my picks that deserve to be called brand masterpieces:

Favorite Athlete’s Personal Brand – Sergio Garcia

sergio

When you’re a professional golfer, you’re used to being covered with almost as many logos as a stock car at Daytona. Golfer Sergio Garcia decided to break up all the sponsorships by -gasp- creating a logo of his very own! With inspiration from Spanish design and beautiful typography, it perfectly integrates his initials into a logo that suits Garcia’s personality. Look carefully, and you’ll see the “horns” that evoke the image of a Spanish bull. Sergio may not be in the bullring, but he is a tough competitor on the golf course.  

Favorite Mega Brand – Coca-Cola

coca-cola logo

Classic, Diet or Zero. Cans, bottles or liters. It doesn’t matter. Cover up 90% of that flowing script and you still know it’s the Coke logo. That, ladies and gentlemen, is brand recognition and equity at its finest. It’s not great just because most elements of the logo have been around for over a hundred years with only minor tweaks. (But that alone tells you something is working.)  

It’s the consistency of the iconic color and all of the other style elements that instantly signal “Coke” to people all over the world. The logotype has a traditional serif style but somehow still feels modern. “A Coke and a smile?” and “It’s the real thing?” Slogans come and go, but this mega brand logo is built to last. (Harley Davidson was a close second in this category. If thousands of people are willing to tattoo your logo on their body it deserves consideration!)

Favorite Retro – Milwaukee Brewers

brewers logo

Look at this logo and what do you see? Of course you see the baseball glove, but look closer. Do you see how the Brewers glove is made up of the lowercase “M” and “B” letterforms? Maybe you won’t see it at first glance, but perhaps the concept will be discovered by the viewer the first, fourth or four-hundredth time they see the logo. I love logos that have these types of hidden “gems” in them. It would have been easy to make a logo out of a beer stein and a big letter “M”, but what fun would that be? This design is playful – after all, baseball is a game, right? But it is also professional. I love this logo. And that’s saying a lot coming from a Cardinals fan.  

Favorite Rebrand – BP

bp logo

 

The original British Petroleum logo wasn’t exactly done by a slouch: The “Father of Industrial Design,” Raymond Loewy, gave us the original shield logo. He’s the same guy responsible for the Shell Oil logo and – ta-dah – the livery design of Air Force One. That’s why it’s so impressive that the updated and redesigned BP logo knocked it out of the park. An uplifting, dynamic sun that looks environmentally responsible? Two initials in the upper right corner above the mark?…pretty innovative. It gives us a whole new way to look at an oil company…oh, I’m sorry, a clean energy company. A logo that in itself provides an entirely new framework for consumers to view BP.   

Favorite Logo From My Favorite Logo Design Firm (Chermayeff&Geismar) – NBC

nbc logo

The NBC logo builds on the past, but it’s virtually timeless. As one of the most recognized logos in the world, the peacock incorporates the roots of color television in an updated and very simple design. It reproduces well, and stands out across all types of media: not just television, but print, online…you name it. Sometimes it fills a page, and sometimes it is very small and subtle while always maintaining high visibility and recognition. And occasionally it has a playful side as colors “drip” from the logo, or fall like feathers, adding interest and personality. The simplicity and purity of design makes this mark one of the best. The letters “NBC” don’t even have to be part of it – because like the Nike swoosh, the logo alone says it all.

There you have it – my Five Favorite Logos that embrace design excellence while also making a special connection for the companies and people that use them. All of these logos have moved into being much more than a pretty picture. They’re the cornerstone of the world’s mega-brands, and a big part of creating a brand that people want to follow.

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