Books that unravel the story behind famous logos

The very best brand identities typically have a hidden story within it that can be reversed engineered with a bit of thought (I love that ah-ha! moment), and even more interesting for me as a graphic designer is the story and process behind the logo, as well as the history and evolution of the design through time.

I know I’m not alone on this as several books, magazines and blogs have been written on the topic. I think it fascinates both designers and non-designers alike as graphic design has become part of our everyday life, and is embedded into our society. Look around you, and you’ll see logos and symbols surrounding you. To get the idea, the blog post 33 logos in 33 minutes by Logo Design Love illustrates just how many we actually see each day!

Because of my fascination with the story behind logos, I have a couple of books on the topic, and I’d like to share a few of these with you.

TM: The Untold Stories Behind 29 Classic Logos

Book - TM: The Untold Stories Behind 29 Classic Logos

TM is one of the newest books in my collection and is one I’ve been excited to own since it was released just over a year ago. I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint and has become of my favourite logo design books, full of fascinating insights, interviews and previously unpublished images.

The seeds of this book were sown in a logo-specific special issue of Creative Review magazine from April 2001 where industry leaders were invited to vote their top 20 logos of all time. I’ve not read the magazine, but I’m definitely going to be looking for a copy for myself…

Creative Review: The Logo Issue

This book from Laurence King takes a look at 29 internationally recognised logos, including Coca-Cola, Bell Systems, London Underground, Nasa and Penguin, and explains their development, design, usage and purpose. As it’s based on interviews with the designers, this book really does tell previously untold stories! With around 10 pages per logo, it’s a quality read with lots of great images too.

Here’re a few photos from inside the book:













TM is written by Mark Sinclair, the deputy Editor of Creative Review, and is authoritatively written, comprehensively researched and includes a wealth of archival and previously unpublished images. I’d highly recommend it!

If you’d like to grab yourself a copy (it’s definitely an ideal Christmas gift for yourself or a designer friend) you can either get it direct from Laurence King, from or

Logo Life: Life Histories of 100 Famous Logos

Book: Logo Life

Logo Life is a book I’ve had now for a few years and is another that I really love. It features 100 logos, listed alphabetically from Apple to Xerox, and includes hundred of accompanying images to detail the logos visual evolution.

Each logo has a single page of content that concisely explains the history behind the logo, then shows a version of each logo from the companies history, along with supporting images of the logo in use on packaging and marketing collateral.

Here’s a look at a few page spreads inside the book (Sorry for the crude photos):

Logo Life Book Spread - Toys R Us

Logo Life Book Spread - Starbucks

Logo Life Book Spread - John Deere

Logo Life Book Spread - Burger King

Logo Life Book Spread - 3M

If you would like a copy of the book you can grab a copy from or

Book(azine): 50 Best logos ever

Book: 50 best logos ever

Another book/magazine I’ve enjoyed is one published by Future Publications that was released in 2013 called 50 Best Logos Ever. It’s the type of book that’s almost like a magazine, and sadly released only for a short period of time so I’m glad I grabbed a copy when I had the opportunity.

Selected by a panel of branding and identity design experts this book brings together a definitive list (their claim anyway) of the 50 best logos ever, and includes evolution of famous logos including Shell, Penguin, Coca-Cola, early development sketches, and interviews with leading designers including Lindon Leader, the designer of the FedEx logo, and Rob Janoff, the designer of the apple logo.

One thing that I was really fascinated with this release, and the reason I’m bringing it up now, is the early photos of the coca-cola logo from… including the below version from 1890 that’s not included in the two book releases mentioned above…

Coca Cola 1890 Logo

This image from a ‘bookazine’ shows that even when you think you know everything about a logo, there is always more story behind it to discover… this is why logo design and its supporting history will always be a fascinating area… keep learning! Keep discovering.

What books, magazines or blogs would you add to this? Let me know by joining in the discussion on facebook or twitter.

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