The world’s best logos

Every world-famous company has an iconic and evocative logo behind it. But which are the best logos of all time?

Here we pick our top 10 designs – the images which have done most to propel their parent brand to global domination, and reinforce their company’s key messages and attributes.

1. Nike.

The Nike swoosh doesn’t tell you anything about what the company does; it could really apply to any company. But it is versatile, instantly recognisable, and associated with urban style the world over. Inspired by the Greek goddess Nike, the logo was designed by student Carolyn Davidson in 1971, for just $35; today, its value is incalculable.

2. McDonalds.

Arguably the most famous logo in the world, the McDonalds motif dates back to the company’s first-ever restaurant, which was framed with two distinctive yellow arches. This simple, instantly recognisable symbol has helped propel McDonalds towards global domination, and was once even credited with encouraging world peace.

3. Coca-Cola.

Many have criticised the Coca-Cola logo, because it’s not especially creative or evocative; in fact many believe the red colouring is inimical to the product’s core identity as a cold, refreshing beverage. But it has survived almost unchanged since 1886, so encapsulating the history and tradition which is central to the Coca-Cola brand. And it works equally well in both colour and black-and-white, a crucial advantage given Coca-Cola’s varied advertising strategy.

4. Mercedes Benz.

We call the Mercedes Benz logo a star, although it looks a bit like an arrow as well. And a rocket. And the peace emblem harnessed by the Woodstock music festival. In fact, it looks like lots of different things; each person has their own unique take on the Mercedes badge. But, whatever your interpretation, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the logo encapsulates Mercedes’ core values: exclusive quality and silvery, shimmering allure.

5. Apple.

It probably didn’t take Apple’s creative team long to think up their logo; once they had a name, the logo probably followed naturally. But Apple’s apple has been hugely effective; the original colour version captured Apple’s commitment to innovation and bright ideas, and the ultra-simple design stands out in any medium, no matter what the size, colour or pixellation used.

6. Lego.

Again, this isn’t particularly complicated – merely the word ‘lego’ written in block capitals, on a red background with yellow trim. But everything about the logo – the chunky font, the colour scheme, the very simplicity of the design – suggests childlike fun and accessibility, the core values Lego strives to embrace.

7. Disney.

This very elaborate logo, featuring a castle augmented with a stylised version of the founder’s signature, is designed to give viewers a taste of the magic, wonder and enchantment of which the company boasts. The design is completely unique and memorable, and imbued with history – capturing the very best of Disney’s values.

8. Audi.

With its rectilinear chain of rings, the Audi logo is kind of a flattened-out version of the Olympic insignia, and this is no accident; it is believed that Audi’s design team wanted to capture the Olympic spirit when they came up with the design. Their image is strong and sleek, and its Olympic connotations have only boosted Audi’s brand image.

9. Firefox.

The fox wrapped around the world is perhaps less well-known than some of the other examples in this list, but that’s only because Mozilla is a young company. Over time this visually captivating logo, with its bold colours and striking contrast, is sure to become one of the world’s most iconic corporate images. Plus foxes are widely perceived to be cute and innocent – creating a wonderful identity for this young and user-friendly brand.

10. Playboy.

The bunny girls were a popular feature of the early Playboy clubs, and their legacy lives on in the company’s logo, which manages to capture Playboy’s tradition and history without being smutty. The rabbit’s ears are, in their own way, as iconic as those of Disney’s mouse; they strike an illicit, alluring chord with men the world over, and their cheeky charm is equally compelling across all kinds of media.

Do you agree with our designers' choices? If you think we've missed someone off, let us know at suggestions@smallbusinesslogos.co.uk

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