Who designed the Virgin logo?

Virgin logo sketch

“Legend has it that a young designer scribbled the now iconic signature on a paper napkin. Richard Branson loved it for it’s ‘in your face’ simplicity, attitude and energy.”

Virgin logo evolution

Read more on the Virgin website. Via Saniya Haroon.

It reads as Virqin (with a ‘q’) to me. I thought I’d see what it looks like with a slight curve on the descender of the ‘g’.

Virgin logo alteration

Perhaps the brand’s so well known that the mark is seen as a shape as much as a word.


Update: February 2015
I found this explanation on the blog You Never Told Us — stories from Brian Cooke’s days as a music business photographer in the 1970s and 80s.

“It was March 1978 and we had just redesigned our own logo. At a meeting about the [Virgin] logo Simon [Draper] remarked on how much he liked ours and maybe we could look at doing something similar for Virgin. The Cooke Key logo was our concept, which in truth was inspired by a lithograph by the famous Dutch graphic artist M.C.Escher, which depicts two hands drawing each other with pencils.”

From the archives: Stretching the Virgin logo.

8 responses

  1. “Perhaps the brand’s so well known that the mark is seen as a shape as much as a word.”

    You comment hits the nail on the head for me David. It’s hard to see the logo for what it is now, with fresh eyes, because of all the history and repeated exposure we’ve had to it.

    For me it’s almost become too polished, lost some of it’s character slightly. That said it’s kept it’s boldness, it’s energy and life.

  2. Just goes to show that some of the classic designs are literally scribbled on the back of a fag pack, or a napkin as here.

    The original with the ‘twins’ looks so 70’s whereas the simplicity and dynamism of the word alone still looks like it could carry the brand into consumer space travel (and there may be a long wait!

    Your iteration with the tail is interesting but disturbing: not sure if its the disruption of the familiar or the reduction of emphasis on the verticals but it certainly disrupts the purity of the Virgin marque.

  3. I designed the Virgin logo. I was working at DZN The Design Group for Norm Ung around 1985-1986 and we cranked out alot of work for music labels, that was his background. I ran into a fellow coworker, Suzanne Watson, last Sunday who reminded me I did the logo and it jogged my memory. I had lunch with Jim Emmerson whom I also worked with and he confirmed I did the logo. Why it took me almost 30 years to connect the dots sounds crazy but it is the truth. I designed the original Virgin Records logo that has been used on all things Virgin for all these years.

  4. The original Virgin Records logo, designed by swords ‘n sorcery poster wizard Roger Dean, was superceded in the early 1970s by the one we all know.

    I started my working life with Ray Kyte in 1985 who had designed the logo before then (see quote below) In his 30’s at the time, it was basically based on his natural hand writing style.

    In his autobigraphy, Richard wrote: “Ray Kyte created the concept and supplied the visual styling for a signature-style logo which can be interpreted as my personal endorsement, the ‘V’ forming an expressive tick. Some marketing experts once analysed the logo and wrote about the upbeat way it rises from left to right. This, of course, might have been going through Ray’s head when he developed the original idea.”

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