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The 10 best logos of all time

05. Apple

Best logos: apple logo

Rob Janoff, Regis McKenna, 1977

Apple's initial logo was a drawing of Isaac Newton by Ron Wayne in 1976. Steve Jobs knew it would never work as a brand and commissioned a new mark the following year. Since then, the apple's shape has remained the same, aside from some geometric tweaks for the 1998 refresh, and the move from coloured stripes to a solid silhouette. Rob Janoff's logo has remained an important element in Apple's global success story since its inception. 

In pictures – how the Apple logo developed:

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The first Apple logo was designed by employee Ron Wayne. It depicts Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. He's about to formulate the Universal Laws of Gravitation. Steve Jobs realised the illustration looks far too complex for just about any application, and would not reproduce well on computer boxes. Can you imagine it on your phone?

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Jobs gave the brief to design a corporate identity for Apple Computer to the Palo Alto agency Regis McKenna, which was creating advertising for many other Silicon Valley clients. Rob Janoff came up with the Apple brand – the colours of the spectrum are in the wrong order, but represent Apple's USP. It was the only colour home computer in 1977. The logo took only two weeks to create.

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With the launch of the iMac, Apple moved away from the rainbow stripes to a flat colour silhouette. Translucent coloured badges were applied to iMacs, G3s and so forth. Monochrome was used on printed matter.

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Later, what's called the Aqua version of the logo was adopted. It has a gel-like effect and highlights to make it shine. It was used in a range of colours depending on where it was being applied. 

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The 2007 version of the logo is called Chrome and has different reflective qualities, appearing to be manufactured from glass. This was subsequently replaced by a flat silhouette of Chrome, usually in silver or black, which is now widely used on hardware including iPhones, iPads and iMacs. 

We spoke to graphic designer Rob Janoff, the man handed the job of designing a logo for a company called Apple Computer...

What was your original brief and what did Apple want the logo to convey?

"I didn't have much of a brief, when I think about it. It was a few words from Steve Jobs, which were, 'Don't make it cute.' I think he was referring mostly to the typography." 

"Don't make it cute"

Steve Jobs

How did you come up with the idea of an apple with a bite taken out of it?

"When you take a bite out of an apple, it stays sort of bite-shaped, it doesn't collapse as a peach would. It was to make it look more like an apple, and to give it scale – because people's mouths are a certain size and an apple is a certain size, and the bite would be a size relater."

How many versions did you present?

"I've never done this before or ever again, but I was just so sure about this design that there was just one version. However we did have a back pocket one, which was the apple without the bite in it, in case they thought it was a bit too cute. That never got shown."

For more about the Apple logo, including how much it cost to digitise, check out our interview with Janoff.

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