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Can you guess the brand from its original logo?

You may think you know everything about logo design... but how far does your knowledge stretch back in time? Many of today's most ubiquitous logos began life as something very different, and we've got six great examples.

Below you'll see just a close-up on each original logo; can you identify the brand from it? (You might find this tricky, but there should still be enough clues to make an educated guess.)

Once you've settled on your answer, click the right arrow over the image and you'll uncover the original logo in full. This may or may not clarify things!

Finally click through once again, where you'll find the modern logo for the brand. Below, we'll explain a little bit of the history behind both designs. Good luck!

01. Buddhist beauty 

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Can you guess the well-known brand from a close-up on their original logo?

Can you guess the well-known brand from a close-up on their original logo?


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Here's the full original logo. How about now?

Here's the full original logo. How about now?

Original logo


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Japanese camera manufacturer Canon switched its name from Kwannon in 1935

Japanese camera manufacturer Canon switched its name from Kwannon in 1935

Classic logo



Answer: Canon

Japanese camera manufacturer Canon may have been around for almost a century, but it's not always had the same name. 

The company was originally founded as Seikikōgaku kenkyūsho, and produced the Kwanon, a prototype for Japan’s first-ever 35mm camera with a focal-plane-based shutter. 

The original illustrated logo from 1934 depicts Bodhisattva Kwan'on, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, who was said to embody the company's vision of creating the best cameras in the world. And the illustration of "Kwanon with 1,000 Arms", surrounded by flames, is certainly attention grabbing.

When the company began full-scale marketing in 1935, though, they changed their name to Canon and introduced a new, more corporate logo, albeit remarkable for the innovative style of its letter 'C', with a sharp point at the top. 

Over the next two decades, the Kwannon brand and its wilder, more expressive logo was gradually phrased out. The current version of the Canon logo, meanwhile, dates back to 1956, which in terms of longevity is pretty impressive to say the least.

02. Monochrome magic

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Another closeup of an original logo: but what was the company?

Another closeup of an original logo: but what was the company?


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Here's the whole thing... but are you any the wiser?

Here's the whole thing... but are you any the wiser?

Original logo


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Shell's familiar yellow-and-red logo was designed by Raymond Loewy in 1971

Shell's familiar yellow-and-red logo was designed by Raymond Loewy in 1971

Classic logo


Answer: Shell

Yes, energy giant Shell has always had a shell for its logo emblem, albeit a very different looking one to today's well known yellow and red emblem. 

The original trademark, a flat, monochrome scallop shell, first appeared in 1891 to represent the kerosene being shipped to the Far East by a small London business Marcus Samuel and Company, which dealt originally in antiques, curios and... you guessed it... oriental seashells. 

In 1987, this design inspired the naming of Samuel's newly formed Shell Transport and Trading Company. By 1904 the familiar Pecten seashell logo was introduced, although still in black and white, until the famous palette of yellow and red was added in 1948. 

That colour scheme is said to have been inspired by the Spanish flag, and was first used in the new service stations opening up in California; a state with strong connections to the Iberian nation.

03. If the shoe fits...

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Can you identify the brand from the top half of their original logo?

Can you identify the brand from the top half of their original logo?

03. If the shoe fits...


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The bottom half pretty much gives the game away

The bottom half pretty much gives the game away

Original logo

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This classic Adidas 'trefoil' logo represents the landmasses of the Americas, Europe and Africa, and Asia

This classic Adidas 'trefoil' logo represents the landmasses of the Americas, Europe and Africa, and Asia

Classic logo


Answer: Adidas

German cobbler Adolf Dassler first began making shoes in 1924 and registered his company's name as "Adi Dassler adidas Sportschuhfabrik" in 1949. 

Its original illustrated logo, centred around a black-and-white line drawing of a running shoe, draws attention to the spikes that Dassler was known for making. 

You'll notice, too, that it featured the same font that's continued to play a part in Adidas's multiple modern logos. You can learn more about them in our article, How the Adidas logo earned its stripes.

04. Circular logic

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Does this closeup on an original logo help you guess the company?

Does this closeup on an original logo help you guess the company?
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Does seeing the whole design help at all?

Does seeing the whole design help at all?

Original logo

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IBM's classic 1967 logo was designed by Paul Rand

IBM's classic 1967 logo was designed by Paul Rand

Classic logo


Answer: IBM

Okay, we tricked you a little bit there: IBM actually began life in 1888 as ITRC, the International Time Recording Company. Its main products were mechanical time recorders invented and patented by Willard L. Bundy.

ITR was later merged into the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911, which was then renamed International Business Machines, or IBM, in 1924.

The current IBM logo, designed in 1972, has become an iconic symbol of the computing age over the last half-century. It was created by Paul Rand, one of history's most famous graphic designers, and is beautiful and elegant in its simplicity.

You can see a full rundown of all the IBM logos, and the thinking behind them, in number 9 on our list of the best logos ever.

05. Countryside scene

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Another illustrated logo: but what well-known global brand did it once represent?

Another illustrated logo: but what well-known global brand did it once represent?
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The full version basically gives the game away...

The full version basically gives the game away...

Original logo

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Apple is better known for this iconic logo created in 1977

Apple is better known for this iconic logo created in 1977

Classic logo


Answer: Apple

Apple's first ever logo, designed in 1976 by Ronald Wayne, looked more like the illustrated crest of a university or scientific society than a tech company. 

Showing Isaac Newton under an apple tree, an apple dangling across his head, this detailed illustration was designed by Apple Computers co-founder Ronald Wayne. The phrase on the outside border reads: "Newton… A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone.”

It's a lovely design, but Steve Jobs reportedly believed that it was too old-fashioned, and so quickly hired graphic designer Rob Janoff to come up with something more modern. 

Launched later in 1976, the 'bitten apple' emblem quickly became iconic and, the odd colour change notwithstanding, remains today as one of the most recognised logos the world over. 

06. Feathered friend

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What's this bird carrying in his beak? It's a clue!

What's this bird carrying in his beak? It's a clue!

06. Feathered friend

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This original logo was designed in 1898 (this one's pretty tough, we have to admit).

This original logo was designed in 1898 (this one's pretty tough, we have to admit).

Original logo

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The tuning fork remains in Yamaha's current logo

The tuning fork remains in Yamaha's current logo

Classic logo


Answer: Yamaha

Today, famous in equal measure for its electronic keyboards and motorcycles, Yamaha was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha as a piano and reed organ manufacturer. 

Its original trademark, established in 1898, showed a Chinese phoenix holding a tuning fork in its beak, and was known for being used on top quality organs of the day; a true sign of quality. 

The logo has gone through multiple changes since then, but the tuning fork is still represented in Yamaha's modern branding. 

The three tuning forks of today's Yamaha logo are said to represent the cooperative relationship that links the three pillars of its business: technology, production, and sales.

How did you do? Want to test yourself some more? Now see if you can spot the errors in these famous logos.

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