A history of the logo

I am indebted to Dan Redding for putting together a great partial history of the evolution of logo design and branding. I am of the exact right age to have been dramatically influenced by Naomi Klein’s book, No Logo, yet I am also fascinated by graphic design, so it’s a love/hate thing when it comes to logos, for me. Perhaps that’s the reason this blog continues to await one?

Anyway, I learned a lot from Redding’s piece:

The Wiener Werkstätte was a manufacturing and marketing enterprise founded in Vienna in 1903 — decades before graphic designers were doing work that was officially recognized as corporate identity. This group of craftsmen and designers were true trailblazers.

A trademark was proposed for the Werkstätte, but designer Josef Hoffman proposed a complete graphic identity. The appearance of the group’s letters and articles was unified by four elements: the Werkstätte’s red rose symbol plus the monogram marks of the Werkstätte, the designer, and the producer. These standard elements, along with the use of the square as a decorative motif, were used to design everything from invoices to wrapping paper.

Now that’s dedication to designing an immersive brand environment: the Werkstätte logo forged into the handle of a cupboard key.

He also writes about the MTV logo, which I knew had been groundbreaking, but now I understand precisely why.

In the comments to Redding’s article, I found a link to Fred Seibert’s piece about the design of the Nickolodeon logo, which was also well worth the read. Clearly influenced by the MTV logo revolution, it managed to be great in its own way. Seibert also digs up a Scribd copy of the Nickolodeon design usage manual from 1998, which is awesome to page through.