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The Evolution of Tech Logos

graphic designerFor cutting edge design inspiration, we study a combination of top-performing companies and innovative start-ups. In particular, we look to tech hubs in the West Coast for the latest trends. As a result, we’re better equipped to recommend bold, eye-catching design concepts to our clients.

To further train my creative eye, I analyzed four technology companies to see how their logos have evolved over the years. A logo is an essential brand image that should communicate core company values.

View the timelines below to learn about the design history of Apple, GE, Google, and Microsoft.

Apple: From Storybook to SleekApple Logo Evolution copy

The original Apple logo looks like a page from a children’s fairytale book. It showcases a detailed scene of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an Apple tree. On the border, the logo reads:

“Newton… A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone.”

In 1977, Apple streamlined its logo by creating a simple but colorful icon. There are many legends about the symbolism behind the iconic Apple bite. According to the designer, Rob Janoff, the bite was merely intended to ensure the apple would not be confused as a cherry.

Over the years, Apple has experimented with bevel and shadow effects. The current Apple logo is simple and minimal. According to The Express Tribune:

“One of the main reasons for coming up with the monochrome logo was that the new Mac computers were being manufactured with metal casing instead of the plastic one and the sight of a rainbow logo on a metal computer did not fit well.”

GE: From Art Nouveau to Smooth & ElegantGE Logo Evolution

The original GE logo had an art nouveau style with long, organic lines. Over time, the GE logo has become more circular, fluid and smooth.

In 2004, GE underwent a significant rebranding. The new logo incorporated the color blue which communicates trustworthiness, intelligence, and commitment. In addition, GE’s tagline changed from “We bring good things to life”  to “Imagination at work.”

Google: From Playful 3D to Approachable

Google Logo Evolution

According to Neatorama, the first version of the search engine was named “BackRub” for its ability to analyze back links to determine the website relevance. It was later renamed Google as a play on the word Googol which means one followed by 100 zeros.

The original Google logo, with 3D lettering, is similar to the old style of Microsoft WordArt. In 1998, Google created its first modified logo. According to the Google Doodle Archive:

“Google founders Larry and Sergey played with the corporate logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. They placed a stick figure drawing behind the 2nd ‘o’ in the word, Google, and the revised logo was intended as a comical message to Google users that the founders were ‘out of office.'”

Google Doodle LogoThese doodles decorate the company logo to celebrate notable events. Over the years, Google’s logo has become lighter, simpler and more approachable. Google’s current logo features a custom geometric sans-serif typeface called Product Sans.

Microsoft: From Disco to Clear & Flat

Microsoft Logo EvolutionThe original Microsoft logo featured disco-style font. During the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft made flat design popular. Today, this style represents fast loading time and responsive websites.

The 1982 logo was a favorite among many Microsoft employees. According to Neatorama:

“In 1982, Microsoft announced a new logo, complete with the distinctive ‘O’ that employees dubbed the ‘Blibbet.'”

Five years later this was simplified to as slash and often referred to as the “Pacman” logo. Today, the Microsoft logo is colorful, simple and clean.

Need a branding refresh? Our branding specialists help healthcare and technology companies memorable and intentional brands. 

About the Author:

Jordan Gallant
Jordan Gallant was a member of the Clarity Quest team from 2015-2017.

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