10 Strange Stories Behind Famous Logos

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Logos are a ubiquitous part of the urban ecosystem. With so many companies bombarding us with so many logos in every facet of modern life, it’s easy to tune them out or ignore them altogether. But if you look a little deeper, some of the logos you see every day have some interesting stories behind them, like…

10. The Domino’s Pizza “Domino” Was Supposed to be Way Different

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In the five decades they’ve been delivering piping hot discs of cheese covered dough Frisbees to the masses, Domino’s has achieved a level of market ubiquity rivaled only by the likes of McDonald’s, Subway and that company that seems to make every single zipper. With thousands of stores worldwide, the Domino’s brand is almost universally recognized in the western world.

Domino’s began life as a small independent pizza restaurant called DomiNicks. Tom Monaghan bought the store along with his brother in 1960, and after a few years of decent sales he bought out his brother’s half of the business for a beat up old Volkswagen Beetle. Tom then renamed the store “Domino’s” and set his sights on franchising the living crap out of it. Tom’s original intention was to add an additional dot to the now famous logo for every new store he opened. However, after only a year of franchising he was forced to abandon this idea because it became unfeasible to implement.

Today, the logo has three dots to represent the original three stores opened under Tom’s management. Just to highlight how different this is from his original vision, if he’d stuck with his original plan the logo would now have over 10,000 dots on it.

9. The Chupa Chups Logo Was Designed By Salvador Dali

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Chupa Chups are the stone-pimp OGs of the lollypop world, and since being introduced to the market in the late ’50s they’ve maintained a strong commercial presence few brands can compete with. As a testament to how enduring the Chupa Chups brand is, the company’s logo has remained virtually unchanged since it was introduced in 1969. Then again, if you had a logo designed by Salvador Dali you’d be hesitant to change it too. Yes, the same guy who painted all those weird melting clocks and had a pet ocelot named Babou designed the logo for a popular brand of lollypop.

Dali created the logo at the bequest of his good friend and the founder of Chupa Chups, Enric Bernat, in less than an hour while the pair ate lunch. While the logo looks simple, Dali’s masterstroke was insisting that it be displayed on top of the lollypop instead of on its side, ensuring that it would always be clearly visible.

8. The Original Starbucks Logo is too Risqué for Modern Consumers

 

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Even if you actively dislike coffee, avoid consumer culture like the plague and live in a cave you’ve still seen the Starbucks logo. Whether it’s on a discarded cup, tagged in a photo on Instagram with a hilariously misspelled name scrawled on it or in every other scene of Fight Club, the Starbucks logo is as unavoidable as it is green.

It’s undergone considerable changes over the years to the point that the fact it was “supposedly” based on a woodcut of a siren from the 16th century is almost impossible to discern. In fact, in the newest iteration of the logo it’s difficult to see that the lady adorning literally billions of cups of coffee has a giant fish tail at all. It’s also difficult to see that she’s topless.

In the original Starbucks logo, from which all subsequent logos have been based, the siren totally had her breasts on display. Unsurprisingly, every logo since has either had her breasts out of shot or tastefully covered with her hair. Starbucks is so afraid of offending people with its original logo that in 2008, when the company released “vintage” cups sporting its supposed original logo, they edited it so the Siren’s boobs weren’t as visible and people still complained.

7. The McDonald’s Logo is Based on The Shape of Original Stores, Not The Word McDonald’s

 

This is a picture of Ray Kroc's first McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines IL USA - now a museum.

McDonald’s is one of those brands that will likely outlive us all — they’re just too big and have too much money to ever fail. The iconic Golden Arches have been a staple of the company’s branding for decades and, with very rare exceptions, are featured in some way, shape or form on every restaurant bearing the McDonald’s name.

You’d assume the big “M” that forms the Golden Arches was derived from the word “McDonald’s” because, well, there’s an M right there at the start of the word, but you’d be wrong. The Golden Arches are actually based on the shape of the original McDonald’s restaurants, which featured prominent, golden archways as a way of making the buildings stand out.

The idea of including the archways can be traced back to architect Stanley Meston, who proposed the idea as a way of diverting rain away from queuing customers and motorists. When the restaurant decided to re-brand sometime in the ’60s, it was decided that the arches that had made their restaurants so visible on the highway would become the symbol of the entire brand.

6. The Apple Logo Only Has a Bite Taken Out of it So That You Won’t Mistake it For a Cherry

 

 

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There are many rumors about how the original Apple logo came to be, the most persistent of which is that the original, fabulous logo that featured a technicolor apple with a bite taken out of it was a tribute to the late, great Alan Turing. Turing committed suicide, possibly by eating a cyanide laced apple, after he was ostracized for being a homosexual. The theory states that Apple chose an apple as a tribute to the man who’s widely known as “the father of computer science.”

While that’s a lovely story, it’s pretty much all crap. For starters, the company is called Apple purely because Steve Jobs thought it sounded like a nice word. There was no symbolism or allusions to Newton or Turing intended when Jobs came up with it, he was just in the middle of an all fruit diet and thought the word sounded “fun.” As for the logo itself, the guy who originally designed it, Rob Janoff, has stated multiple times that it was never intended to be an homage or tribute to Turing, Newton or the “fruit of knowledge” as many have stated in the past. It’s just an apple. As for why it has a bite taken out of it, that was just so people wouldn’t mistake it for a cherry. Sorry, Apple fans, your logo really is just an apple.

5. The Windows Logo was Re-designed Because it Looked Like a Flag

 

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If you’re stuck with a computer that runs on Windows 8, you’ve no doubt already come to hate it with the kind of zeal normally reserved for murder-suicide pacts and arguments about which video game console is the best. Along with changing everything about Windows that made it user friendly in the first place, Microsoft also quietly changed the iconic Windows logo to a minimalist version more suited for a modern machine. And now it finally looks more like a window instead of a flag.

As we’ve already noted, literally the first thing a graphic designer said to a Microsoft representative when they were debating changing the logo was, “Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?” That left the representative to flounder for an explanation for about 10 minutes until making up some junk about the logo meaning whatever you wanted it to mean. Unsurprisingly, the designer went back to basics and designed a logo that actually looks like a window.

4. The WWF Changed Their Logo to Avoid Confusion with an Animal Charity, Then Argued about it For Years

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Analytics tell us that about 50% of our audience is male, so with that figure in mind we feel it’s safe for us to assume that 90% of our audience grew up watching WWF. Hell, The Rock has taught us more about life than our closest friends.

Even if you don’t care about wrestling you may be aware that WWF became WWE in the ’90s due to a branding conflict with the World Wildlife Fund. What you probably don’t realize is that although the two companies reached an agreement about the use of the acronym in 1994, they argued about it until 2012!

That means the two companies have been debating this issue for 18 years straight, even though they reached an amicable agreement about it back when Pogs were still hot. There’s a joke about wrestling storylines never reaching a satisfying conclusion in that sentence somewhere, but we’re too busy imagining wrestling pandas to make it.

3. Deadmau5 Was Threatened By Disney Over His Logo, Immediately Threatened Them Back Over His Song

 

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Deadmau5 (pronounced “Dead Mouse”) is a musician who’s been dropping sick beats for the last decade while wearing a giant plastic mouse head. He’s built a respectable brand around the mouse head to the point where it’s recognized even by people unfamiliar with his music. To date, the man under the head, Joel Zimmerman, has trademarked his logo in over 30 countries.

But when Zimmerman tried to trademark the logo in the United States, Disney decided it looked too similar to their own Mickey Mouse ears logo and tried to block his application. In response, Zimmerman did a simple Google search and found that Disney had used one of his more popular songs for a “Disney Re-Micks,” something he’d absolutely not given them permission to do. To make things even more hilarious, the video was accompanied by a huge Deadmau5 logo. You know, the same logo Disney said people would confuse for their own.

Amused by the hypocrisy of Disney threatening him for using a logo kind of similar to their own while simultaneously illegally profiting from his music, Zimmerman sent Disney a cease and desist letter and tweeted the video to his fans. To paraphrase Zimmerman, it took Disney 10 years to notice his logo but only a matter of days to remove the video. While the case is still on-going, by simply trying to block Zimmerman’s trademark application Disney inadvertently made it way more famous and ensured that it was plastered across the media. And speaking of Disney…

2. The Walt Disney Logo Was So Famous Walt Disney Had Trouble Signing Autographs

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Here’s a fun fact for you: the Walt Disney signature you can see on virtually every piece of Disney media ever produced doesn’t actually look anything like Walt Disney’s signature. In fact, the iconic, globally recognized symbol of the company isn’t even based on Walt’s signature — it’s based on an employee’s version of it.

As you can imagine for a company of Disney’s size, even in the early days Walt Disney just didn’t have time to sign every piece of fanmail that came his way. As such, it was common for him to pass off this duty to a secretary or other employee who’d been given permission to sign things on his behalf. Likewise, for the Disney comics Walt’s “signature” is found all over them, despite the fact he never drew a single panel. The artists simply signed everything as “Walt Disney” because it was easier.

This led to a rather odd situation where there were more “fake” versions of Disney’s signature floating around than real ones. Eventually, the stylized versions used by artists and his various secretaries became so well known that Walt himself had trouble signing things for people because his own signature didn’t match the one used by the company bearing his name. Finding a legitimate copy of Walt’s signature today is nearly impossible without expert help, in part because Walt changed his signature so many times to try and make it as flowery and stylized as the one used in Disney marketing.

1. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Lions Are More Badass Than You

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The MGM lion is one of those logos that’s reached almost mythical proportions. While it isn’t as widespread as the Disney logo or as famous as the Apple logo, it’s arguably better than both of them because it has a freaking lion.

The logo has undergone several significant changes over the years, which is our roundabout way of saying that they replaced the lion when it died like four times. Don’t feel bad though, because while the lions have passed on, their badass exploits haven’t. For example, when Slats, the first lion used by MGM died, his body was buried beneath a giant marble slab. When asked why, Slats’ trainer said that it was to “hold down the lion’s spirit,” which is so cool we had to type that sentence while wearing gloves.

Similarly, the second lion used by MGM, Jackie, survived a train crash, a plane crash, an explosion, a boat crash, an earthquake and then another train crash. If that wasn’t awesome enough, Jackie also adopted a bunch of kittens just because he was rad like that. So the next time you watch a movie and happen to see the MGM lion at the start, remind yourself that you may be looking at a lion that survived three Liam Neeson movies in a row.


Love logos?
We’ve looked at some ridiculous old-timey sports logos, and we’ve also talked about some innocent logos and other iconic works that the Nazis ruined.

 

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