Classic logos are clean, powerful and instantly recognizable. Many of the most iconic logos are from the sixties and seventies, and many have been designed by a just few design rock stars like Saul Bass, Paul Rand, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar. Below is a showcase of some of their most well-known work, as well as some additional logos that are still in use.
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Bass was more famous for his graphic design work for films’ title sequences, but he also designed some of the most iconic logos in the world. Many of his logos are still in use, having had only small modifications to reflect changes to the companies that use them.
Warner Communications Classic logo
Bass designed the iconic Warner Communications logo in 1974. Warner merged with Time in 1989, but The Warner Music Group continues to use this logo.
Girl Scouts of the USA Retro Logo
In 1978, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America had Bass design their logo. They now use an updated version of the same design.
Bass designed the logo for AT&T in 1984, shortly after it was busted up under antimonopoly laws. AT&T’s current logo owes much to this design.
Unlike Bass, Paul Rand was always primarily a logo designer. He was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design, a typography-heavy minimalist style developed in the 1950s.
Rand began perfecting his minimalistic style with the 1938 logo for Esquire Magazine.
American Broadcasting Corporation
Rand designed the logo for the American Broadcasting Corporation in 1962. It has remained largely unchanged.
Rand is perhaps most well-known for the logo he designed for IBM in 1962.
Chermayeff & Geismar
Ivan and Tom, respectively, started their New York-based design agency in 1957. They quickly attracted large corporations as clients thanks to their timeless designs.
Chase Manhattan Bank
They designed the logo for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1960, and the bank has kept the logo, changing only its color in more than 40 years.
Geismar designed the current logo for Mobil back in 1964.
Public Broadcasting System
Public Broadcasting System, the American non-profit broadcasting network, approached the agency to design a logo in 1984.
Other classic logos
George Opperman designed the Atari “Fuji” logo in 1972.
The Morton Salt umbrella girl, designed in 1914 by N.W. Ayer & Co, is one of the most famous logos in the United States. The most recent update to her was done in 1968.
The Apple logo was designed in 1976 by Rob Janoff, but Steve Jobs suggested adding the rainbow colours to make it stand out more.
Nike bosses initially disliked the swoosh Carolyn Davidson first designed in 1978. They eventually came around, and the logo is amongst the most recognizable in the world.
Milton Glaser designed this rebus in 1977 as part of the “I Love New York” tourism campaign.
The young graphic designers at Manhattan Design created the irreverent MTV logo in 1981.