Did you know that the most powerful camera in this world is none other than our eyes? No wonder, humans have a visual fixation on almost everything. We are inclined towards remembering things by looking at the unique identities of those things. For example, most of us remember some of the top brands in the world by their logos. Be it Microsoft, or Google, or Apple, or FedEx, or AT&T – most of us usually remember them by their logos. Logo designers play a vital role in creating a brand identity. So, here is our long list of iconic logo designers who shook up the entire design world with their inspiring designs. But, before we start with our list of best logo designers, we will like to tell you that most of these iconic designers are no longer among us, but they continue to inspire. So, let us begin.
How can we even create a list of iconic logo designers without mentioning Rob Janoff? Can you guess his creation? Yes, the famous Apple logo. Trust us, the old logo that adorned Apple products was plain horrible. Take a look and judge by yourself:
Now, take a look at Rob Janoff’s creation:
Apple’s logo is perhaps the most popular mark in the world today. Rob Janoff created the logo back in 1977 in only two weeks. When Janoff was asked back in 2013 about the logo, he said that the computer was named after a fruit and so, the logo should look like a fruit. So, he started drawing silhouettes of Apple.
For Rob, it was too mundane when suddenly he thought of ‘byte.’ It eventually led him to create the iconic ‘bite out’ mark. That is how we remember Apple today! According to Rob, the logo was designed to convey two messages:
- The ‘bite out’ part signifies ‘byte.’
- Apple products are just as tempting as the apples from the Garden of Eden.
What about the colored lines? The color stripes came in because Apple II was back then the only computer in this world capable of reproducing color images on the monitor. Not just that, it was also the only computer in this world which one could plug into a color TV a home.
Some of you may know of him as a filmmaker with a history of winning Academy Award. But, what may be unknown to you is that he was also a graphic designer. Bass is better known for designing on title sequences of animated motion pictures. To this day, Bass’ work remains the best of its kind. However, Saul Bass shot to fame as one of the most iconic logo designers in the world after creating some of the most iconic logos in North America. His work includes the logo of Bell Telephone, and then he created the famous AT&T logo.
Bass didn’t stop there. He carried out design work for other well-known brands like United Way, Dixie, Continental Airlines, etc.
Did you ever see the Student Academy Award? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tasked Bass with the job of designing the award, and he delivered.
The swoosh of Nike is perhaps one of the most iconic marks in this world. Carolyn Davidson was the person who created it against compensation of $35 only. Yes, you read it correctly. USD 35. When Carolyn Davidson created the famous Nike logo in 1971, she was a student at Portland State University. Phil Knight – the person who founded Nike, was there in the university teaching accounting to the class where Carolyn was a student. Phil asked Carolyn to design the logo, and she did. What she created was simple, and today, that simplicity is a screaming testament to the very fact that often the simplest of ideas in the world are the best.
Milton Glaser is the person who designed the logo ‘I Love New York’. If that isn’t very convincing for you, must have seen DC Comics’ “DC Bullet” that was in use from 1977 to 2005. It was Glaser who designed it. He also designed the iconic poster of ‘Bob Dylan.’
As far as Glaser’s accomplishments are concerned, American Institute of Graphic Arts Medalist Award and The Cooper Union bestowed the following medals upon Glaser for his outstanding achievements:
- The Society of Illustrators Gold Medal
- The St. Gaudens Medal
- The Art Directors Club Gold Medal
- The Philadelphia Gold medal.
When we talk of logos, we cannot afford to overlook Lindon Leader. He was the first designer to ever use ‘Negative Space’ in such a way that no one ever thought of. Today, Negative Space is a pillar of creative logo design.
The FedEx logo was designed back in 1994 and Lindon Leader was working with Landon Associates as senior design director. The logo Leader came up with was used on FedEx’s 30,000 ground vehicles and 600 aircraft.
What is special about the logo? The hidden ‘Arrow’ between E and X. Take a look.
Do you see it?
Well, Leader continued to work for many well-known brands like Cigna Insurance, Hawaiian Airlines, Banco Baresco, etc. but, Leader once said that people would perhaps remember him only for his FedEx logo.
Chip Kidd is the one who gave many famous book covers. Kidd worked with many famous writers such as Neil Gaiman, Michael Crichton, James Elroy, etc. One of Kidd’s most notable works is the book jacket of Jurassic Park. Kidd explained in his monograph that recreating one of those creatures (referring to dinosaurs) leaves people with only one choice – bones. That’s all that he had to start with, and the result was the iconic Jurassic Park logo featuring a T. Rex designed using bones!
Like him or hate him. You cannot ignore Otl Aicher. Hailing from Germany, Otl Aicher (sometimes also known as Otto Aicher) was a leading graphic designer for a major chunk of the 20th century.
During the 1972 Munich Olympics, he was the lead designer. He is responsible for creating a pictogram set that eventually carved the path for stick figures that are extensively used today in public signs!
When it comes to solving branding issues, and corporate identity with something as simple as typography, the name Joe Finocchiaro shines out bright. Joe is best-known for his work on Cisco logo redesigning for which he partnered with Jerry Kuyper. Joe is known for offering a whole range of design service, but he always partners with someone or the other who is a specialist in a particular field.
Of all the iconic logo designers we have mentioned so far in this list, this man named Massimo Vignelli (died 2014) is the one who left a legacy so unparalleled that he continues to live in the design principles that often guide the modern digital graphic designers.
The man churned out some of the most iconic design work in his 50-year career. Brands like IBM, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, American Airlines were his clients. Do you remember Bloomingdale’s ‘big brown bag?’ Yes, it was Vignelli who created it.
Another famous graphic designer named Micheal Bierut is one of the most famous protégés of Vignelli. Unfortunately, the internet came in too late for Massimo to leave a direct impression on the digital world but, modern graphic designers are till date, guided by the design philosophy that Vignelli used throughout his life.
Rand died in 1996, but till date, he is still one of the most famous graphic designers who has walked on this planet. He was one of the pioneers of Swiss Style graphic design. In 1972, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of New York Art Directors. One of his most famous work includes the current IBM logo designed with eight horizontal stripes. The logo reflects dynamism and speed. Apart from IBM, Rand also designed logos for brands like UPS, ABC, NeXT, Morningstar Inc., Enron, etc.
A student of Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Paula Scher’s graphic designing career started at two places simultaneously – CBS Records and Atlantic Records. In both places, she worked as an art director for a record cover.
Over time, Paula garnered a wide range of clients for who she designed packaging, environmental graphics, promotional materials, branding systems, and identities. She took design cues from everything including design and art history, literature, pop as well as classic iconography, film, music, etc.
One of the most important factors of Paula’s designs is that her creations have an emotional appeal that speaks with contemporary audiences.
In the past, she had received the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. She is also the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame member. She became a board member of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) and went on to receive its highest honor – the AIGA Medal. One of the most famous logos that she designed is that of the financial group Citi.
Morteza Momayez was one of the most prolific graphic designers that Iran has ever produced. In 2004 (one year before his death), Momayez received the prestigious Art & Culture Award for Excellency. It was the President of Iran who gave him this award. During his lifetime, Morteza became a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale, Iranian Academy of Art and Iranian Graphic Designers Society.
Morteza designed various logos (apart from posters, billboards, book covers, magazine covers, etc.) for some of the most renowned Iranian organizations and government organizations like State Organization Tea, Children and Young Adults Organization, Asian Cultural Documentation, Asian Graphic Design Biennial, National Library of Iran, Custom Authority of Iran etc.
Michael Peters OBE
When we talk about iconic logo designers, we cannot make the mistake of not mentioning Michael Peters OBE. With an experience of more than 35 years in the designing industry, Michael Peters has garnered a reputation on which top global brands always rely on.
He has done some stunning design work for charities, banks, retailers, airline identities, and supermarket packaging. When he was 29 years old, Michael Peters opened his own company by the name Michael Peters and Partners. Over the years, the company did some extraordinary work in revolutionizing the role of packaging in consumer product marketing.
His company experienced exponential growth, and within 13 years, the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company’s annual turnover exceeded 045 million GBP by 1989. The company’s clients included names like Unilever, British Airways, BBC, United Distillers, ITV, Redland, and the Conservative Party.
In 1986 Michael Peters was chosen as the identity consultant for Conservative Party where he worked very closely with Margaret Thatcher. In 1990 in November, he earned the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for providing his services to marketing and designing.
Sven Seger is one of the most renowned names in the world of graphic designing. He is the Executive Creative Director at Seigel+Gale, but before that, he worked as creative director for FutureBrand. During his tenure with FutureBrand, Seger worked with multidisciplinary teams for creating and implementing design and branding programs for large corporations like Samsung, UPS, Marriott, Chase Manhattan Bank, Bacardi, etc.
Before joining FutureBrand, Seger worked for Enterprise IG – a branding firm. During his tenure with Enterprise IG, he was engaged in creative design work for other famous clients like Bank of America, Oppenheimer Funds, Cardinal Health, Arthur Andersen, etc.
Seger started his career in Germany’s Hamburg and shot to fame quite quickly by designing the corporate identity of the unified German government. The specialty of the design was that he incorporated the concept of democracy into that design.
When it comes to graphic designing, the name Henry Steiner shines big and bright. This man has given some of the most renowned corporate identities that we know today. He has designed for some of the gargantuan brands of this world such as HSBC, Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Regency, Unilever, Standard Chartered, Dow Jones, IBM, etc.
His fame and capabilities can be well-gauged by the fact that Hong Kong government gave Henry Steiner the honor of designing the bank notes of the city.
Steiner is the person who pioneered identity expression via branding. In Asia in particular, Steiner displayed his unique skill of incorporating cultural symbols of Eastern Asia into designs of the west. This unique combination received international recognition very quickly.
Henry Steiner founded a company in 1964 by the name Steiner&Co. Today the company is one of the world’s foremost brand consultants.
Roger van den Bergh
This man – Roger van den Bergh – started designing corporate identities soon after he finished his design training in the 1970s. His design portfolio includes design work for some of the most reputed brands in the world. Some of the brands he designed for include:
- New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- The New York Municipal Arts Society
- North Fork Bank
- BellSouth Corporation
- Continental Airlines
- Shandong Airlines
- Daewoo Motors
- Midwest Airlines
- Eos Airlines
- LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae
- Scios Biopharmaceuticals
- Transportation Alternatives
- The Joint Commission
- European University Institute
- The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
- Boeing Company
From an architect to a product designer and then a switch to interior designing and eventually, graphic designing, Michael Wolff’s career tale was all about a rollercoaster ride. Eventually, in 1964, Michael Wolff joined hands with Wally Olins to create a company called ‘Wolff Olins.’ Over the years, the company became one of the most famed European companies in corporate identity branding business. The company worked on the corporate identity of huge brands like Volkswagen, P&O, Apple (the Beatles – not the Apple computer company), Audi, 3i, and Renault.
Michael Wolff quit Wolff Olins in 1983 to join Addison – a popular design company where he worked for clients like Jaguar, BP, The Barcelona Olympic Games, The High-Speed Train in Spain, London Underground, Shell Michael, etc. As of today, he runs a different company called Michael Wolff & Company. The clients for his company include Mothercare, Ministry of Sound, 3i, Citibank and Citigroup.
This list of iconic logo designers is far from being complete. We know that we have done some injustice towards many others who have transformed the world of creative designing through their boundless thoughts that have that successfully pushed back the frontiers of graphic designing. We feel a colossal compulsion to name a few others, and hence, we will do.
If you get time and if you feel an uncompromising need for learning the concepts of designing that helped them become such iconic figure, go ahead and Google their names to learn more about them and their design philosophy.
Here is a small list of a few more names who have set unparalleled standards in designing and illustrations:
- Herb Lubalin
- Robert Brownjohn
- Ken Cato
- Ivan Chermayeff
- Alan Fletcher
- Tom Geismar
- Steff Geissbuhler
- Gene Grossman
- Sagi Haviv
- Armin Hofmann
- Gerard Huerta
- Yusaku Kamekura
- Raymond Loewy
- Marcello Minale
- Per Mollerup
- Miles Newlyn
- Anton Stankowski
- Brian Tattersfield
- Bob Wolf
- Marian Bantjes
- Max Miedinger (the man who created the Neue Haas Grotesk (later renamed as Helvetica) typeface).
We will stop here, but we want to tell you that this list can go on and on. Perform a quick search on the internet, and you will be surprised to know how many people can get on this list.