The Origins Behind 8 Famous Logos

As a digital marketing agency, we love hearing stories about how logos came to be (and we’ve even changed ours a few times, too!) We decided to dig into some interesting stories and meanings behind 8 of today’s most famous logos:

Heinz 57

heinzHeinz has always been known for its “57 Varieties,” but did you know the number 57 actually has nothing to do with the company’s varieties? Back in 1896, founder Henry John Heinz was riding a train in New York when he noticed an ad for “21 styles of shoes.” Liking the idea of a number as an advertiser, he decided to bypass the over 60 items that the company already had and created “57” from his lucky number, 5, and his wife’s lucky number, 7. Today, the company has more than 5,700 products around the world.


tobleroneSwiss chocolate bar brand Toblerone has been around since 1908 with a distinctive logo of the Matterhorn mountain in the Swiss Alps. Many believe that the triangular-shaped pieces of milk chocolate with honey, almonds, and nougat were modeled after this mountain, but what many don’t realize is there’s also a bear hidden in the logo. The bear represents the town of Bern, Switzerland (otherwise known as the “city of bears”), where the company started.

Chef Boyardee

chef boyardeeDespite what many think, the chef on this logo was actually a real person. Italian-born Ettore “Hector” Boiardi immigrated to the United States in 1914 at the age of 16. He worked his way up at the Plaza Hotel in New York City to head chef and opened his own restaurant in 1926. When many of his customers asked for bottles of his signature spaghetti sauce, he began using a factory to keep up with the orders and eventually introduced his product to the public. He named the company “Chef Boy-Ar-Dee” so that Americans could pronounce his name correctly. Later, the hyphens were dropped.


coca cola

The Coca-Cola logo began as a simply piece of script and didn’t become an official trademark until eight years later. John Pemberton invented the syrupy product known as Coca-Cola by using extracts of “coca,” cocaine, and “kola,” a caffeine from the kola nut. When the members of the company (including Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson) submitted their ideas for the product’s name, Robinson penned his neatly. The typeface, now known as Spencerian Script, was the dominant form of handwriting during that century.


fedexThe current FedEx logo has won over 40 design awards, but wasn’t actually the company’s official logo until 1994. Before that, the logo included the company’s entire name, Federal Express. The logo’s creator, Lindon Leader, drew his inspiration from logos in the 1980s and designed FedEx with “simplicity and clarity.” He included an arrow in between the “E” and “x” to promote speed and forward direction, and changed the colors of the “Ex” to reflect the company’s branches – green for ground, orange for express, yellow for trade, and red for freight.

Sony Vaio


Have you ever wondered why Vaio is written so strangely? It’s because there’s a hidden meaning behind this brand of laptops. The logo’s concept was created by the supervisor of product design, Teiyuu Goto, from the Sony Creative Center in Tokyo. He wanted to represent both the analog and digital worlds of technology, so he made the “V” and “A” look like an analog wave and the “I” and “O” represent digital’s binary code.

Aunt Jemima

aunt jemima

Back in 1889, Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood created a self-rising pancake flour, but couldn’t think of a name for it. When Rutt heard a song sung by an African-American vaudeville performer called “Old Aunt Jemima,” the two decided to call the company the “Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company.” Like the performer, the company’s logo featured a woman in an apron and bandanna and was brought to life in 1890; former slave Nancy Green portrayed Aunt Jemima until her death in 1923. Since then, six other women have portrayed Aunt Jemima. It wasn’t until the company’s 100th anniversary that Aunt Jemima lost the bandanna and gained pearl earrings and a thinner face.



Standing for Bavarian Motor Works, BMW was founded in 1916 as an aircraft engine production company. When the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1918, the company had to halt its manufacturing, so it turned to motorcycles. It wasn’t until 1928 that the company built its first car, the Dixi. Its circular logo was inspired by the design of Rapp Motorenwerke’s logo, which was the company BMW stemmed from. The blue and white represent the colors of the Bavarian national flag, not a rotating propeller, like many believe.

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