5 Stories of Famous Logos

Jun 28, 2017 | Mail & Print

We all recognize these logos and the brand but learn the how and why behind these logos.

Domino's Pizza, Google, ABC, IBM, Nike, and UPS logos combined in geometric pattern with triangle.The Nike Swoosh

This simple logo was designed by a student named Carolyn Davidson in 1971. Nike initially paid $35 for the design (which would be about $210 today). This seems like a small amount of money for the creation of such a famous logo but Davidson’s compensation didn’t end there. When Nike went public in 1983, the company gifted Carolyn with a gold ring that included a diamond-encrusted swoosh and 500 shares of the company. Since then there have been six stock splits, bring today’s total to 32,000 shares valued at over $3 million.


These three companies seem so far apart that one would think it would be difficult to find a commonality, but there is something – or rather someone – that ties them all together: Paul Rand. Rand is the renowned graphic designer behind the creation of the ABC and IBM logos in 1962, and UPS in 1961. One of his more fascinating projects was with Steve Jobs shortly after Jobs was ousted from Apple in 1986. Jobs tasked Rand to create a brand identity for the sum of $100,000 (approximately $220,000 today). The result was a 100-page brochure detailing the brand standards for a new company that would go on to develop and manufacture a series of computer workstations called “NeXT.”


Tom Monaghan had a vision of a pizza franchise that would celebrate its success right through its logo. After purchasing a small pizza restaurant called DomiNicks in 1960, Tom quickly focused his energy on aggressively expanding his new franchise Domino’s Pizza. The design we know today is very close to his original concept with one exception – Tom wanted each dot on the logo to represent the number of new restaurants he opened. It only took a year for him to abandon this idea as it became unfeasible. Today three dots remain on the Domino’s logo, each one representing the original three restaurants Tom opened.


Creative director Bill Golden was tasked with creating a new logo for CBS in 1951. Golden’s vision for what the new logo would be was a combination of the hex symbols resembling human eyes that were drawn on barns in Pennsylvania Dutch country and an art publication from the previous year that featured mid-19th century recreations of spiritual visions as drawings. Golden then tapped painter, sculptor and graphic artist Kurt Weihs to help create the eye logo that CBS still uses today.


Before it was ever going to be called “Google” the original plan was to call it “Backrub” in 1996 and the logo was to feature a close-up of a hand rubbing a back. The name was quickly changed soon after and Google’s co-founders, using the open-source graphic design program GIMP, created the first Google logo in 1998. The following year the company tasked then visiting art professor at the Standford Art Department Ruth Kedar for a redesign that went on to become the famous logo. Although Google’s logo has gone through a lot of changes, Kedar’s influence is still present today with her unique combination of primary and secondary colors.

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