The history of logo design begins with the roots of human expression. In fact, the fundamental power of symbols remains most important element of logo design. A logo has meaning because it draws on centuries of signs and symbols (including the alphabet) in human literary and visual language. A logo designer who uses an image of an apple, for example, is drawing on centuries of potent symbolic usage. For most Western viewers, the image of an apple summons our associations with nature, food, the ‘forbidden fruit’ in the Garden of Eden, Snow White, Apple computers, et cetera. To design a logo with symbolic resonance is to participate in the lineage of social dialogue.
Fragment of a vase, third millennium B.C. The figures on this vase bear a striking similarity to the cave paintings of Lascaux and even to contemporary imagery like the Puma logo. These similarities reveal the harmony and union of human communication over great distances of time and geographic location.
To communicate effectively with design, it’s important to view the big picture of human communication and mythology. Logo design as we know it today is a strategy that rose to popularity with brands and corporations of the twentieth century. However, people and organizations have been identifying themselves with an enormous variety of marks, signatures, and emblems for centuries. In terms of visual communication, a modern company that represents itself with a logo, color scheme, and slogan is not very different from a 15th century royal court that invoked identity and unity through the use of family crests, uniforms, and religious symbolism.