Conveying The Unique Value Proposition

Brands convey the identity of a company or organization and create a visual/brand personality. The logos pictured above are among the most recognized brand symbols in the world today. Still, over time, as times and people change,  brands need to be updated. Here are the stories of how the logos were updated over time.

Apple

brand appleThe Rainbow Apple: Apple is one of the most successful biggest consumer electronics brand, best known for products like Macintosh, iPod and iphone. When Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne set up Apple in 1976 to sell their hand-built computer Apple I, HP declined to carry the line.  Success takes time, and when it didn’t prove easy, Wayne liquidated his share in the company for $800.

Success came with the launch of Apple II in 1977, a product that owed much of its success to colored graphics. Apple established its USP (Unique Selling Proposition) from the with great and simple design. But the first logo, designed by Jobs and Wayne, was a complicated picture of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree bearing the lengthy and heady inscription: “Newton … A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone.”  Steve Jobs then hired Rob Janoff to simplify the logo, and the ‘Rainbow Apple’ personified the UVP so well that it remained in use until 1998.

One of the rumors about the origin of the Rainbow Apple logo was that it was a tribute to Newton that also reflected Apple’s colored graphics. Another explanation is that the bitten apple pays homage to the Mathematician Alan Turing, regarded as the father of computers, who committed suicide by eating an apple he had laced with cyanide, while the rainbow colors of the logo were a reference to the rainbow flag, reflecting Turing’s homosexuality.

Janoff has said that he  designed the logo to “prevent the apple from looking like a cherry tomato,” and was reflecting the “byte/bite” pun, as Apple’s slogan at the time was: “Byte into an Apple.”)

Monochromatic Apple: When Apple launched the new iMac in 1998, they changed their logo to a monochromatic apple logo, reflecting changing times and the simplicity of the iMac. Today the logo has been updated from a flat 2-dimensional symbol to a 3-dimensional gradient chrome silver design, which appears to bring the sense of technological evolution to the fore.

Mercedes-Benz

brand mercedesThe Mercedes-Benz was formed by the merger of two car companies – DMG (Daimler-Motored-Gesellschaft, founded by Gottlieb Daimler) and Benz & Cie, founded by Karl Benz after the World War I.

In 1902, the logo for Mercedes was simply the company’s name. However, it adopted the iconic 3-pointed star in 1909. The origin of the star was taken from a postcard by Diamler, where he had scribbled a 3 pointed star to represent ‘making vehicles in land water and sky’. With the merger of the two companies in 1926, a new symbol for Mercedes-Benz merged the logos of both companies into one,  combining the Mercedes 3-pointed star with the Benz laurel wreath. Over the years, the symbol has been improved vastly in design and simplicity, and, like Apple’s, is now a 3-dimensional monochromatic metallic silver. It reflects the tasteful luxury of a top tier car that stands on its own merit without need for embellishment.

Ford

brand fordHenry Ford founded two companies before settling on Ford, and neither venture went well. He founded his third company in 1902, called Ford & Malcomson, Ltd. When he was unable to pay the bills for parts in his third company, some investors agreed to put money in the company. It was renamed as Ford Motor Co., and the name was reflected in the first logo of 1903. The 1909 logo, which has a similar font as today’s logo, was borrowed from Childe Harold Wills, who had made this font for his business card.

In 1912, the Ford logo was given a makeover and the famous blue oval was introduced in the logo. The company experimented with different shapes, including the ellipse, circle, and even a diamond like-shape in 1957, and the 1976 logo, very similar to their current logo, was the last major change in the symbol.

In recent years, American car companies have experienced a rebirth after becoming rather old fashioned and stodgy in comparison to Japanese imports. The logo seems to reflect this transition. In 2003, the company released its new  “Centennial Blue Oval”. The current design is also shares  common design elements with the current Apple and Mercedes logos: it is simple, bold, 3-dimensional and monochromatic, with a metallic sheen.

BMW

brand bmwThe famous white and blue symbol of BMW stems from the company’s origins as airplane engine manufacturers. Many aircraft were painted in regional colors and those of the Bavarian Luftwaffe were the Bayern white and blue. It is said that the pilot’s view through the propeller was one of white and blue

Through the years the image become stylized into solid quarters of blue and white. Since the end of the 1970s BMW has worked to create a standardized international image in terms of statement and presentation so that whenever people encounter the company’s symbols they can easily recognize it. Like the other logos shown above, the BMW logo has recently taken on a 3-dimensional metallic sheen.

Conclusions

Each of the above company and logos reflects a unique, recognizable identity, but share some remarkably common attributes – their histories and their ability to evolve with consumers. They all represent advanced technologies and somehow stand for more than themselves: Apple and Ford are identified with American innovation, as Mercedes and BMW are with exacting German standards. All have made transitions, reinventing themselves to fit the needs and desires of the consumer, and, in doing so, stand out as 3-dimensional brands in a flat field. When all of this can be captured in a single image, something remarkable is happening, marketing at its most effective best.

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