Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – The oldest trademark registered in the United States dates back to the 1870s, for paint manufacturer Averill. In the background is the American city of Chicago and an image of an eagle holding a brush in its beak. The sign reads “Stable, beautiful, economical”.
Five years later, the English company Bass Brewery registered the first trademark in Europe, a simple red triangle. A label on beer bottles can be seen in the paintings of Edouard Manet and Pablo Picasso. This emblem is still used today by Bass brewers.
The eclectic essence of logo design is revealed by these two divergent concepts, no more than a few years apart.
While primitive logos, such as those appearing on ancient Greek pottery, date back thousands of years, modern logo design began in the mid-19th century, according to Jens Müller, author of Logo Beginnings, which shows the early stages. of design history, logos.
“Production and branding have their beginnings in the 1850s,” Mueller told CNN.
It was at this time, he added, that the trade in processed goods began to go beyond regional distribution. Logos were set up as a necessity to identify, distinguish and raise a product from its competitors, or to tell its history and source. Once the marks and symbols used began to represent products, efforts to legally protect them from counterfeiting were caught.
Interestingly, the two oldest brands in America and Europe represent two basic types of logos: figurative and abstract. Each logo can be attributed to one of two groups, according to Muller, although there are many subcategories of them.
A text label is a logo composed exclusively of text, such as a company name or a monogram. Other types include the framed logo, a circular arrangement that often resembles the circular character of images and text, such as the “BMW” logo, a mascot, an image of a character representing the brand, similar to the Kentucky logo, and a scenic sign. . , which is based on a similar symbol or graphic element, such as a logo. Apple “.
“Generally, there are between 25 and 30 categories under which all logos, regardless of whether they were designed in 1870 or 2021,” Muller said.
To reach this conclusion, Mueller examined about 10,000 logos. “The only thing I did not expect was the number of large signs of handwritten texts, such as the signature of the company’s founder. The most famous of these are the Ford or Kellogg logos, which are still used today in their original form. . ” he noted.
Perhaps the most famous “Coca-Cola” logo, discovered in 1886, was designed by Frank M. Robinson using the “Spencerian” font known at the time. Robinson is the accountant and business partner of the beverage inventor, John S. Pemberton. The logo remained virtually unchanged and was registered as a trademark in 1893, when the words “brand” were added to the long tail of the first “C”.
Behind this sincere memory lay a compelling reason, because the “Coca-Cola” logo would soon be at the center of the imitators. In 1923, the company published a series of lawsuits against competitors that had created similar logos for their products. Has reached 700 pages.
By this time, the importance of the brand and logos had become apparent, as was the Louis Vuitton ad of the 1930s, where the letters “LV” surrounded an image of similarly placed suitcases.
“This is a good example of a company that discovered early on how important a brand was and could sell its goods much better by placing its brand on it,” Mueller said. “The years before the golden age of advertising, between 1960 and 1980, show how companies began to realize that most of their value comes from brand and logo design,” he explained.
A classic example of this simplification is the logo of the multinational American company 3M, known for its “Post-It” and “Scotch” brands. The full name of the company is “Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company”, which became known for its early logos, before being abbreviated to “3-M” in the early 1900s. In 1977, the agency “Siegel” + Gale “in New York City, USA, made the logo simpler, using the famous” Helvetica “font and red color to describe the version of the logo still used today.
“This is a good example of a modern logo, which also applies to a brand that has been really reduced to a more minimalist design,” Muller noted.
Mueller said text labels are still very popular today because they can help avoid confusion in a world full of many logos. He added, “Many companies now prefer to use their name as a trademark, rather than an abstract design, which reduces the possibility of copying the ‘logo itself’.
Muller noted that perhaps one of the most interesting things about logo design is that it challenges the clear narrative, explaining, “I think the fact that there’s only one way to go about things is probably because there never was. a book like this before, because it’s hard to tell these things. ” The story is very specific. “