Feeding the nerd…logo evolution

Perhaps I should have written my thesis on logo evolution – it is such an interesting topic and can tell a fantastic story of the history of a company.  (Instead, my thesis was “A comparison on UN Peacekeeping operations pre and post-1990”. A topic for another day! …if you’re lucky…)

I distinctly remember that the first logo “story” that caught my attention was that of Shell.  As with a lot of logos developed in the early 1900’s, it was originally drawn to look like the actual object, in this case a shell, and more specifically a mussel shell.  It looked like this, and represented the Shell Transport and Trading Company:

Shell logo 1900

Following a merger with the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, the logo evolved to look more like a scallop, and the company became the Royal Dutch Shell Group, although it wasn’t until 1948 that the word “Shell” actually appeared on the logo, and during this time the red and yellow colours were introduced.

Shell logos 1904-48

The logo changed four further times between 1955 and 1995, but the essence remained the same – a yellow and red shell.

Shell logos 1955-95

Finally in 1999, in line with trends for simplicity in logos that persist today, the wording “Shell” was again dropped, and like the logos from 1900-1930, it was simply an image of a shell, recognised around the world.

Shell logo 1999

Logo evolution can teach us a lot about how to develop a modern-day logo.  Firstly, your logo doesn’t need to say everything about your brand.  Nothing about this logo says “multinational oil and gas company” but in fact is a nod to the origins of the business of selling oriental shells back in 1833.  Your logo doesn’t need to jam-pack your story into one tiny image, but it does need to have meaning.

Secondly, a good logo is timeless.  Yes, Shell have tweaked it over the last 118 years, but essentially it started as a picture of a shell, and that’s what it is today.  At its core, it is a clear and simple.

Thirdly, a good logo needs to be versatile.  Back to that idea of simplicity.  You want your logo to look as good on the side of a building as it does on a pen.  The colours need to complement your imagery on your website and marketing material, not clash with it.

Finally, a good logo resonates with your target customer.  Your choice of colours, font and image seamlessly convey the message that you are professional and understated…or loud and brash…or cheap and cheerful…or refined and elegant…whatever you may be. It is simply the recognisable symbol that triggers recognition in their eyes and draws them to you.

If you think your logo needs a refresh, or you don’t have one, get in touch and see how we can work with you to develop a long-lasting representation of you. (Shell – you know where we are, must be time for a logo refresh? ;-))

Thanks to www.shell.com for background images/content for this story.

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