Logo design is the bread and butter of the design industry, and the best logos of all time have been hotly debated for years. But what defines a truly iconic logo, and has that changed over time?
Of course, modern branding goes far beyond the design of a quality marque – and there are many different elements at play, from colour and use of typography to style of art direction and tone of voice.
There are some brands so strong they don't need a logo (opens in new tab), as their other elements are so distinctive and well-established – but of course, they do still have one.
Many of the world's best logos (opens in new tab) have a particular place in our hearts, and plenty of uproar has been caused over the years about logos that should never have been changed (opens in new tab) (and in some case, are swiftly changed back again).
As shown by the winners of Computer Arts' Brand Impact Awards (opens in new tab) in recent years, some market sectors are traditionally stronger, or more risk-taking, than others. It's easier to create an edgy cultural or artisan brand or logo design (opens in new tab) than to do the same in financial services or FMCG, for instance.
Read on for our essential guide to the best logos of all time, according to market sector.
Best logos for iconic brands
How five top brands changed their iconic logos to raise awareness of an important cause. Featuring Lacoste, PRODUCT(RED), Google Doodles, CokexAdobexYou and McDonald's.
The world-class logos that played a key role in the success of some of the biggest brands around: Disney, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Starbucks, Playboy, Ford, BBC, Shell, Nike and Apple.
These successful US brands have taken over the world: here's what you can learn from their logos. This post includes Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Google, Apple, FedEx, Starbucks, Amazon and Nike.
These top brands have mastered the art of memorable simplicity, and work effectively in silhouette form. Featuring Twitter, Playboy, Apple, Nike and the World Wildlife Federation (WWF).
There's also a lot to learn from logos that originally attracted controversy. We discover the lessons to be learned from logos that attracted hatred, including Gap, Instagram and Tropicana.
Best entertainment logos
These iconic TV logos don’t just introduce their shows, they effectively convey their essence through clever use of design. Examples include The Muppet Show, M*A*S*H, Cheers, Friends, The X Files, Buffy, 24, LOST, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
We celebrate the comic-book logos that have become true design classics, including Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Marvel, Iron Man and 2000AD.
Best sports brand logos
We recall some of the best examples of Olympic logo design to date: Helsinki 1952, Mexico City 1968, Munich 1972, Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984, Nagano 1998, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016.
The Nike emblem is one of the world's most recognisable, and it's often the simplest ideas that are the best – as proved by this mark created by Portland student Carolyn Davidson in 1971.
We take a look at eight of the best World Cup logos, ranging from 1930 to the present day, including Uruguay 1930, England 1966 and Italy 1990.
Best design industry logos
If your prime constituency is the design industry itself, your logo needs to pull it out of the bag. Here we select some of the best, including D&AD, Adobe, SXSW and ADC.
Having a cool logo is by no means a requisite for design studio success, but these seven agencies have really nailed it. Featuring Moving Brands, The Mill, Flow, hat-trick, Taxi Studio, B-Reel Films and ilovedust.
Best technology brand logos
Rob Janoff's iconic Apple logo has been part of the tech giant's global success story since its inception, and remains strikingly similar – aside from some geometric tweaks, and a move from coloured stripes to solid silhouette.
Design consultant Eliot Noyes hired Paul Rand to create IBM's visual identity in 1956. Rand refreshed it in 1972, rendering the marque in horizontal stripes – reminiscent of the scan lines of the cathode ray tube monitors of the day.