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Tech’ company logos: then and now

So unless you are quite unobservant or only receiving this ‘blog via RSS feed, you’ll see that Mr. Smallman has been quite the busy guy. Wayne has expertly breathed new life into this technology trends blog – and created a very snazzy, new blog design with some sexy features. It’s clear, as with the introduction of Technicolor, we ain’t in Kansas anymore…

It’s amazing how a fresh face can make you take a second look … and the opportunity for a second look in any business, especially within the frenetic pace of the internet, is worth its weight in gold.

There have been countless companies that have successfully re-branded over the years, and I thought in honor of Wayne’s slick new ‘blog digs, I’d go through just a few of my favorite technology company evolutions – I think you may just be surprised at the foot and / or face these brands originally put forward.

IBM logo, circa 1947IBM: one of the first powerhouses of the early computer / internet world began like this in 1947. A start, yes. A good one? Not quite.

IBM logo, circa 1957Ten years later IBM got an upgrade to a filled version of the black and boring logo. Barely an improvement, and the typeface still hideous, but at least it demonstrates that they’re thinking about things.

IBM logoBut then something extraordinary happened – someone thought outside of the box. “Designed by Paul Rand, horizontal stripes now replaced the solid letters to suggest ‘speed and dynamism.’ I dare say the change in texture comes second only to the famous New York Yankee pinstripes [personally, I think the lines remind me of those awful loading sequences from the video games of the time, Ed].

The original can you believe the now-mega e-commerce behemoth started out with a logo like this? Yes, that really is a photo of the bottom of someone’s swimming pool. Unlikely to have been Jeff Bezos, unless it was his parents pool. It looks like a logo for a company that runs late night commercials on public access television [Kate, I must strongly disagree on this point, I think it looks like the logo of a travel agency, Ed].

Amazon varied their brand identity more times than I change socks in a month, all pretty much maintaining a brand consistency of repulsive colors, small tweak changes that barely seem worth the effort, and overall confusing style – if you doubt me, feast your eyes on this particularly hot beauty. I rest my case.

The current logoUltimately, however, cooler (drum roll, please) heads prevailed and the logo we all know and lovingly recognize came to be. Oh, and you get why the arrow is where it is, right? Because they sell everything from A to Z.

Doubt that these changes over the years meant much? The unveiling of the current logo alone sent AMZN 150 points upward…

Apple: this technology companies list would be incomplete without mention of the Steve Job’s baby, albeit from the first time around.

The original logoCould you imagine the front of your beautiful MacBook Pro having the design to the left engraved in the front? While the redesign via artist Rob Janoff that came just a year later is quite close to where the iconic image is now, imagine how much the color palette association has changed…

Proof positive that sometimes the best idea is no match for ever-evolving culture. It’s like your brand getting hit by a stray bullet.

So that’s your marketing taste for the day. Not much, but this is about Wayne’s colorful new future, remember?

If you are a regular to these parts, spread the news that Blah, Blah! Technology is back and better than ever. You never know when you’ll need a second chance to bring those second looks back to your website…

In closing, you can’t ignore a good logo, consistent branding, or the value of eyeballs that are soothed at the glimpse of your familiar face or design. Only the strongest and most agile survive – the ones that do it in style, thrive…

By Kate Carillo

Kate knew at a young age she was a natural marketer, and was determined to learn all she could about the field. A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut with a BA in English, she worked and learned over five years’ time in a Broadway production firm's marketing department, earning her way from intern to Marketing Coordinator. The experience helped her master facilitating advertisement creation and buys/trade, contract negotiation, internet marketing/branding, and grassroots promotions.

Kate now works as a freelance consultant, managing marketing and branding for companies, individuals, and products both online and off, as well as providing advertising, SEO, SMM, SEM, copywriting and editing services to a host of clients in a variety of industries.

9 replies on “Tech’ company logos: then and now”

Good article to emphasise the importance of good branding and logo design! I can’t really comment on whether this new layout is better than the previous one because I’m new here 🙂 But I do like the simplicity and clean feel of this – and the articles are easy on the eyes in a way. I seem to have some trouble with the individual posts tho’ – there is no link contained within the post title to its own permalink? Or maybe it’s just me. 🙂

Thanks for visiting and glad you liked the article, YC! I hope you’ll come back to watch ( Wayne in full-out predictive mode – too bad he can’t apply his skills to the ponies…

I’m interested in what you mention re: the permalink. If you click the title, the article’s own page will load and can be used as a permalink (right click and copy). Or is what you are saying that you would prefer a clickable permalink button/code?

Let me be first(?) to congratulate you on the new design. It looks great, much more readable for my ailing eyes than the white on black. I presume you found fixes for the various thangs we discussed on Skype.

By weird coincidence, I noticed a newsfeed item from another blog that showed you how to fix Firefox permanently so that all websites showed up as white text on black with peach coloured links. I’m really not sure why anyone would want to do that, but there you go. If the reverse were possible you could probably have saved yourself a lot of effort. (I jest….)

Good luck with it, just watch that feed counter skyrocket over the coming weeks.


Kudo’s Wayne,
My favorite color is black, but this is much easier to read. Sometimes I would find things in the RSS feed that I missed on the regular page. I like the perky retro logo too.

We started implementing a new logo at Case this summer. We’d come out with a new one back in 2004 that was somewhat controversial, so our creative team came up with a modern sun that harkens back to earlier imagery–while still providing a forward thinking image. This time around we got the campus involved in the process. The input from alumni, staff, faculty and students not only helped guide the design direction but also helped everyone feel included so that when it was launched it was very well received.

The old one (labeled as current) can be seen in my forum post. The blue square with the lines was generally referred to as “The Fatman with the surfboard.” The sunburst prior to that was known as “The Turkey Butt.”

Kate, what I meant was that the titles aren’t clickable for me. Not sure if it’s something to do with my end, as I noticed no one else has had the same problem…

Doh! I’m feeling especially dumb today! I tried double-clicking on the title and it worked for me? I thought it wasn’t clickable cos the pointer didn’t change as it would have normally? LOL!

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