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The Disney logo debate that won't go away

Logo for Walt Disney Pictures
(Image credit: Disney)

Some logos are burned into our consciousness from an early age, and Disney's graphic is definitely one of those designs. But what does it really look like to you? An iconic 'D' or a backwards 'G'? 

This debate is one of those that rears its ugly head every now and again, before everyone forgets they were confused and goes back to watching Disney Plus (see below for a tempting deal if you're not already signed up). And as today is Disney Plus Day – yes, that's a thing – we thought it was high time we revisited this particular logo puzzle.

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Though the Disney logo has taken on different looks over the century since its inception in 1923, a form of cursive script has been a staple of most of them. And this particular 'D' first began confusing kids in 1972. You can see the logo's various formations in our best Disney logos roundup, or read on for a short history of the logo, and the 'D'/'G' confusion.

Disney logo

To D or not to G (Image credit: Thunder Dungeon on Facebook)

The above picture is occasionally posted on social media, when a host of puzzled ex-children tend to agree with the sentiment within the meme: that it does look more like a backwards 'G'. 

Why exactly is the 'D' potentially confusing for some? It's probably because of its cursive style. Walt Disney himself was said to be passionate about calligraphy. Apparently, the letter 'D's in the various Disney logos are based on Disney's own signatures, which also changed over the years. Though Disney never had a signature that included this exact letter 'D', it is an evolution of the different signatures he used over the decades. 

"Disney's signature from the 1920s does not resemble his signature from the 1950s or '60s," writes Disney expert Phil Sears. "Walt consciously re-designed his signature over the years, in much the same way he changed the appearance of Mickey Mouse over time". Check out examples of Disney's changing signatures below:

Click on the image to enlarge it (Image credit: GSN/Phil Sears.com)

Now compare them with the Disney logo evolution. You'll notice that Disney's signature is pretty recognisable in the early versions.

Disney's signature is more apparent in the early iterations (Image credit: 1000logos.net)

The current version of a letter 'D' has become more than a single letter (and it seems lots of people agree, though perhaps not in the way Disney intended). The universal recognition of it shows it has now transcended standard calligraphy – even though it has never been straightforward to recognise (especially for modern day children – Disney's target audience). It is now a symbol of the company, a feat that belies the power of the brand and the success of the design. 

It's so well-known and so well protected by the Disney brand that the world couldn't believe it when a Chinese company tried to use a stupidly similar version of it in 2019 (remember that?). Though the logo has undergone changes in the past, that 'D' has remained consistent since 1972, and we can't imagine it changing in the future. And for the record, it's definitely a 'D'.

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Georgia Coggan

Georgia Coggan is a regular freelance contributor for Creative Bloq, who has also worked on T3 and Top Ten Reviews. With a particular interest in branding and retro design, Georgia writes about everything from logo design to creative technology, enjoys hunting down genuinely good deals and has even used her knowledge as an ex-teacher to create buying guides on products including children's books and bookcases. Tying these design interests together is an obsession with London Underground posters from the last century.