24th November 2017

The History of Logos

It should effectively communicate what you do, who you are and what you value. It’s a symbolic story.
We see logos everywhere we look, both on and offline. But where did the concept of logos originate? What were the first logos like, and how have they evolved to what we see today?

Ancient Symbols

The first use of symbols to communicate can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphics were used by the ancient society to tell stories, record history and spread proclamations across the land.
Ancient Greeks and Romans also used symbols to communicate. In a predominantly illiterate society, shop signs showed literal symbols to show what goods or services they provided.
Brands also existed, but in a much more literal sense. Farmers would mark livestock to identify which animals were theirs.
Logos were for communicating; brands were for identifying. This is still technically true in a business sense today, but the two often become synonymous.

Medieval Merger

The first signs of brands and logos becoming linked were in medieval times. A great example of this is the heraldry. These unique designs were used to identify the house you were from or were fighting for. Simultaneously, they communicated the values and characteristics of the houses through the imagery they depicted. Stories told through the simplicity of symbols.

Power of Print

Before the revolution of printed communication, you probably would have been the sole trader of your chosen goods or services in the local area. You perhaps would have been aware of another competitor located nearby.
The printing press changed this.
People could now find out about businesses across the country, even the world. This access to information created the challenge of distinguishing your business from an increased number of competitors.
Innovative entrepreneurs started to see that effective design and communication through advertising could attract large amounts of business. The key was to communicate what you do and be easily identifiable. A strong logo that became your identity emerged as a powerful tool, with an example of a company utilising this early on being Cadbury.

Today

Logos have now become a symbol for what a company stands for. In so many saturated markets, your logo is often the only communication that your audience will see.
Simplicity in the design of a logo has become more and more fashionable. Simplicity is memorable and easily recognised. A ‘flat’ design is popular due to its simplicity and can be used across the many platforms we engage with today.
There has also been a return to hand-lettering recently. This design feels authentic and relatable to people and can lead to a personal connection to a brand. This connection can be difficult to achieve with standard computer fonts.

The Future

It’s becoming very difficult to predict the future of branding and logo design due to the dazzling speed of digital innovation. A ground-breaking discovery could be around the corner that changes everything.
The further adoption of logo systems could be on the cards. The constant adaptation of a logo is now possible with technology that allows for instantaneous changes across many platforms.
Google has embraced logo systems with their ‘Google doodles’; changing their logo on an almost daily basis to communicate an important topic. This reinforces our perception of them being an authority on the world’s information by simply changing their logo. No other communication is needed.
Whatever the future holds when it comes to logos, the fundamental ideas will stay constant: you need to be memorable, recognisable and timeless.