4 Classic Logo Designs From Marketing History

Michelin Man: The Inflatable Poster Boy

Michelin Man, also known as Bibendum. is one of the world’s oldest trademarks. He was brought to life in 1898 by French artist O’Gallup in a series of extraordinary marketing posters featuring a rotund, cigar chomping Bibendum in a variety of outlandish situations.

In O’Gallup’s first poster, Bibendum raises a glass of champagne laced with rusty nails and broken glass, declaring a toast: ‘To Your Good Health’. It is a bizarre image, but an explanation of sorts is provided by the marketing slogan: The Michelin Tyre Drinks up Obstacles. Bibendum’s antics continue in 1935 with a short animation The birth of Bibendum. This strange and beautiful cartoon shows Michelin Man being created from a stack of tyres. He then inflates himself to enormous proportions, trashes the local town and floats into outer space where he hitches a ride back to earth on a passing comet.

Why is Michelin Man made of white tyres? Very early tyres were light in colour, it was only in 1912 that carbon black was introduced to the manufacturing process, by which time Bibendum was a well established marketing mascot. The years have been kind to Bibendum, and he is now a friendlier, slimmed down version of his former self.

Coca-Cola: Red, White and You

Nothing has more staying power than the Coca Cola logo with its timeless cursive lettering, familiar the world over since 1887. The logo uses Spencerian script, a very popular style in 19th Century America, and has changed very little over the years. The early logo incorporated the word “Trademark” in the first C swirl, but by 1941 this had disappeared. 1969 saw the appearance of the “Dynamic Ribbon”, which was redesigned in 2002 with the addition of a narrow yellow band, only to be simplified back to basics in 2005.

The Evolution of a Mermaid

The story of the enigmatic Starbucks Siren goes back to 1971 when Starbucks set up its first Coffee Shop on the Seattle waterfront. Looking for a logo to reflect the marine theme of their home city, the founders explored pictures in old seafaring books, eventually settling on a Norse woodcut of a two-tailed mermaid. The seductive siren certainly drew the eye, but a problem arose when it came time for the logo to be scaled up. A huge, naked mermaid displayed on the side of delivery trucks didn’t quite fit the brand image, and so she underwent a makeover. Her new hairdo provided cover from strategically placed long locks, and she evolved into the demure Starbucks Siren we know today.

The 3-Stripes logo

The Adidas brand was founded in the 1940s by German entrepreneur Adi Dassler. In a stroke of marketing genius he contracted his own name to coin the brandname Adidas, and registered a shoe incorporating the soon-to-be iconic 3-stripes, all on the same day in August 1949. The Adidas logo has undergone several transformations over years, shape-shifting from parallel lines to trefoil to mountain to globe, but the 3-stripes remain constant. The current logo symbolises the challenge of reaching the heights of your goals and ambition.