Favourite logos: your votes
Earlier this month, as part of our research for our April issue, we asked readers to nominate their top five logos of all time. Here are the top 15, as voted by you
Our April issue will seek to compile a list of the 20 greatest logos of all time. Ever. (Yes, we know, but we thought it would be fun). To start off our research and help inform our final deliberations, we asked readers of the CR website and also the Brand New blog, to give us their top five. Almost 300 CR readers responded - here are your top 15
5. London Underground
7. Mother & Child
8. Rolling Stones
10. Adidas Trefoil
11. Channel 4
13. Guild of Food Writers
A few things immediately spring to mind about this list. Firstly, this wasn't a scientifically-conducted poll – we just asked for your choices. And although we asked readers for their top five, a lot of people purposefully steered clear of the 'obvious' and instead nominated some lesser-known logos that they thought worthy of our attention (some of which are posted here).
So, what about the choices? We have to wonder what part the affection for all things Apple that most designers still harbour played in its status as your number one. Yes, it is a beautiful and elegantly applied symbol, but would it have made number one if it were for a less-admired company? Or is it a brilliant distillation of everything that you love about Apple and therefore worthy of its top spot?
Likewise, few could argue that McDonald's golden arches is an unsuccesful logo, yet it hardly figures in your nominations.
This is also very much a European-skewed list. Shortly, we will post the results of the Brand New poll, which are considerably different. DRU's BR logo, the Woolmark, Channel 4 and Fletcher's V&A barely figure in the Brand New list, for example.
And then there is the sheer ubiquity of many of these logos to consider. I recently read some interesting research about artistic canons in which it was argued that the key pieces that make up our Western idea of the great works owe their presence more to the fact that they are the most seen, the most often reproduced, than to their superiority as works of art.
So, lots to bear in mind when we come to our final deliberations. As previously mentioned, the readers' poll forms one part of our research in order to draw up our 20 greatest logos list, which will also involve canvassing leading designers, academics and critics as well as a final panel debate, the results of which will be revealed in our April issue.
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Mother & Child...really?
As you suggest, the results do seem to have skewed toward the brand feelings rather than just the logo. To my mind the Apple logo could be a clipart really...and the Nike swoosh ditto. So maybe there need to be categories instead of just "5 top logos of all time".
I wonder if the Mother & Child logo should be disqualified. It was never used. Sure, it's kind of awesome, but if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, then if a logo gets designed and no one uses it, does it still make a sound? The real value of most of the other marks voted again and again is that they have been put through the grinder of consumerism and have been for many years.
well done everyone.
I would be surprised if non-designers didn't pick most of these logos. Which either solidifies these choices or highlights their common familiarity.
Errr... IBM, Bank of America, BP... you have to ask is it a design competence vote or a popularity contest?
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Some of the most popular and most priceless brands here... it is always interesting looking back on how brands have developed and changed over the years.
The usual suspects... It's great to see the Stones the logos not as dated as the band!
Guild of Food Writers = genius
Guild of Food Writers logo is great. Wish I came up with it.
Where's the London 2012 logo?…
Yay! Woolmark at #9! I voted for that wondering if people even remembered it these days. It had a certain ubiquity in the 1970s when, as a child, it fascinated me. Hardly ever see it in contemporary use though...
Not FedEx at number one? Should be.No, maybe Food Writers Guild... Lovely to see some great ideas amongst that lot and to see Saul's Mother and Child still getting raves. Very revealing, and funny that votes go for most seen, but I suppose it could have been a lot worse. Food Writers guild my personal fav as we say on Facebook.
I didn't vote, because I have trouble compiling favourites, and I don't really know what I'd base my order on (technical brilliance? success? recognition?) but I absolutely love staring at the V&A logo. I wish I'd come up with it, but I'm glad I didn't, because no one else would see it.
The Guild of Food Writers is the strongest. It tells a story without the need for a logotype. Nike can't do that, Apple can't either. Love it.
Much as I admire Design Research Unit's British Rail logo it should always place second to Allan Fleming's masterful logo for Canadian National Railway. Designed in 1960 it is still in use and still thoroughly contemporary; a true candidate for Creative Review's greatest 20 logos.
im struggling to understand what people see in the FedEx logo????? ...seriously confused?
The little arrow cleverly incorporated between the E and the x.
Apart from the 'arrow' - what is so good about the FedEx logo?
Sorry to be 'that' guy, but I have no clue what the point of this poll was.
Ask designers what their favourite logo is? the results seem to answer different questions.
They seem to hint at either people's allegiance to specific brands (ie the actual company not the logo – Apple) and on the flip side, their favourite witty logos for brands they have no affiliation with (Guild of Food Writers).
Logos are icons that represent companies and as such should be inextricably linked to who that company is, what they do or sell. As we all know, logos are not brands, a brand exists in the mind, it's a concept.
Designers are a small minority who look at logos as pieces of art and design in their own right. We're too close to the craft of design to be able to judge the effectiveness of a mark.
So, are we surprised that the top logos are for creative companies that we probably all use daily? no.
The very same logos were all featured in masthead for the poll in the first place. it was a forgone conclusion, so why even ask people?
I really hope that the design press will eventually stop focusing on logos as a means to an end and write more about branding as a discipline in general, the stories and challenges are much more interesting and insightful that mere logos (a very tiny part of branding).
The prevalence of websites selling logos for $20 only goes further to misinform people as to what branding is. We as an industry need to help counteract this by talking more about experiences, whether they're customer service, tone of voice, product design, interaction design etc.
Each one is a little gem that shines out in a swirling sea of Scheiße.
It's always good to indulge in the warm glow from the perfect specimens on the Pentagram website too of course.
Not sure how these were chosen, there are some duff ones listed, but the Wool Mark is brilliant one of my favourites.
Johhny Bull: FYI The Mother&Child logo was created by Herb Lubalin, not "Saul" (I'm assuming you mean Saul Bass.) Nike and Food Writers logos are pure genius!
you can halve this list, put one side in a glass cabinet with a plaque that says 'LANDMARK DESIGN' and the other half in the bin. If you extended the list to 30 logos then you would get your 15 greats.
Josh, what on earth are you talking about? 'The top logos are for creative companies'. The only top one there which has anything to do with creativity is Apple.
Josh, the idea was to pick a favourite logo not a brand. The craft of creating a unique symbol, not a whimsical 'brand story'.
I have to say I am surprised to see the Rolling Stones up there. Should it really be on a list of the 20 greatest logos of all time?
I thought Amnesty International might make the top ten so I'm surprised it's not there. It may not have a cute negative space trick but it communicates much bigger themes than most of the above and works in any country.
I think any poll on the web will be skewed towards Apple - I've seen that before. It's a good logo but I always think the 'forbidden fruit' metaphor is much more relevant in the Ann Summers logo - they don't ever seem get a look in!
Do you know what...I've never ever noticed that arrow in the FedEx logo until @Ted pointed it out!
However, I still don't like this logo much, and wouldn't put it in the top list.
That would be any logo one can recognize anywhere and can be used with any alphabet as it has no letters (ie. Nike, Apple...)
I'm not sure why apple is at the top. Their brand is certainly very good in many respects just considering the logo itself, not really.
Surely Coca-Cola should be a lot higher considering its logo has remained practically unchanged for over a 100 years, withheld stiff competition from other soft drink companies (Pepsi, etc), affected popular culture (red santa anyone?), was used a major moral boost in the Vietnam war, has its hands deep in American Politics, been used as a bargaining chip in world affairs and revolutionised branding. Doesn't that in itself make it the best logo around?
I don't think FedEx and Mercedes Benz should be in the list, FedEx is a genius logo but that doesn't mean its the best logo around and I can't think of any reasons that M Benz should be in their.
The Coca-Cola Santa is an urban myth
"I recently read some interesting research about artistic canons in which it was argued that the key pieces that make up our Western idea of the great works owe their presence more to the fact that they are the most seen, the most often reproduced, than to their superiority as works of art."
That's because a logo isn't a work of art, it's a design. It has a purpose, a significance within the context of the brand. It isn't a pretty picture. So all these tings you list as possible factors should be required factors.
I think I'm missing the point of this poll; are we looking for the best 15 pretty pictures used as brand identifiers or are we rating logos here? A good (and successful) logo, is by definition, something people like and instantly recall. This poll's only scientific inaccuracy was to show a collection of comped together logos at the header of the post (therefore implanting suggestions).
Apple logo tops list of designers favourite logos shock! Kind of undermines the whole list a bit...
The point of the poll? Mostly fun, I should think. And a bit of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. But certainly not a definitive list, as there are too many confounding variables, and as we know, it's a gut (and emotional) thing some of the time rather than something tangible.
The genius of Apple is the NAME, not the logo.
Looking at the list and logos, I thought the Woolmark is a good nominee, it is really beautiful. How about another Poll really bad logos which have been redesigned. I always marvel when a designer takes something not very good and evolves it into something fantastic!
Where's the GE logo? That's what I want to know
Apple? At number one? Jesus.
The Guild of Food Writers is indeed extremely well observed as a logo.
Food writers logo is fantastique. Shame about their website
woolmark , um dos melhores de sempre, muito bem conseguido.
Agree. The brands selected have stood the test of time and become true icons. Well done all. GB.
The Mother & Child logo is deeply average. Yes, it has a nice enough (albeit predictable) idea at its core, but it's a typographic mess. The execution is appalling. The BR logo and the Wool mark are winners, as are VW and Mercedes. In fact, it's very interesting just how many of the strong logos are actually very old. Familiarity clearly helps in all of the logos favour, too much perhaps. The Nike swoosh is horribly ubiquitous. A huge self-congratulatory vaildatory tick is a little too contrived and conceited for my liking, and a great design it's not. It's just everywhere.
What a great list in most part. I voted British Rail and am gutted it was nudged into sixth place. I don't think the apple logo is great logo, but it is a trademark that denotes quality and it has an interesting story behind it(inventor of early macintosh's who laced an apple with cyanide and then took a bite)
The Rolling stones logo is just so sumptuous but the channel4 logo should have been a few places higher. it still remains a really engaging piece of design and as fresh as ever. Channel4's current idents still play on the fragmented components-nearly 30 years later. A simple idea with so much milage!
I agree that when trying to select logos I struggled to avoid the obvious that have filled my head due to constant daily exposure. But this happens in any poll. When the radio stations hold a best track of all time, there a always a few 'really?' selections due to recent success/exposure. But this makes it interesting, helps to stir debate and raise awareness of some unknown gems.
From the selection I think the strongest is the guild of food writers, which I had never seen before. Similarly I had never seen the NZ Commonwealth games work - shown on other suggestions link - which is awesome. Have to agree with a few people above. FedEx - had not noticed the arrow until pointed out and even so, is it that special? And as for 'Mother & Child' I am simply miffed.
The purppose of any logo is to be the identity of a brand. Each logo has a function and have to serve a purpose in the message process in which the brand wants to display to their audience. Given the history of any successful brand the logo stood as the voice but most importantly window to see what the brand was offerning. So all this logos have given each brand and identity successfully.
The apple logo is just an apple. A good looking apple but could they really have used anything else? It would be pretty hard for the logo to miss the mark with a name like that!
I find it too hard to pick a favourite. Always loved V&A though. Timeless.
A fun list and a real mixed bag. Some much-loved timeless classics I agree with; some awful crap I don't. It's been a good talking point in the the office this morning!
Seemingly I'm the only one in this comments list who hates the Guild of Food Writers and Mother & Child logos. So just to balance out all the nice comments who say they're clever, genius etc, here's my grumpy 2 cents worth...
Visual puns (the spoon in the nib; the foetus in the "O") are juvenile - things I'd expect to see in an A Level portfolio. Appropriate for sillier, light-hearted logos, but not for these. So they fail in terms of communicating the right message to me. PLUS, and most importantly, they're not scalable; shrink the nib and you lose the spoon; shrink the MOTHER and you lose the CHILD. So they fail from a production perspective too.
I love the Wool Mark logo, but it always reminds me of NatWest. :(
It's all about fame fame fame. Except Fed Ex, Guild of Food Writers, C4 and V&A
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