15 wonderfully simple logo designs

It’s no coincidence that the most memorable logos are also the most simple in appearance. You want the identities you create to be instantly recognisable, acting as a memorable identifier for the company they represent. A consumer will normally just take a fleeting glimpse at a logo, and an overly complex mark will make that opportunity redundant.

Here are 15 examples of simple, successful designs.

1/ WWF
Designed by Sir Peter Scott, in 1961.

WWF logo

2/ Shell
Designed by Raymond Loewy, in 1971.

Shell logo

3/ Bayer
Designed by Bayer, in 1904.

Bayer logo

4/ Message
Designed by Sam Dallyn, in 2001.

Message logo

5/ USA Network
Designed by Peloton Design, in 2005.

USA Network logo

6/ Innocent
Designed by Deepend, in 1999.

Innocent logo

7/ British Golf Museum
Designed by Tayburn, in 2004.

British Golf Museum logo

8/ London Underground
Designed by Edward Johnston, in 1918.

London Underground logo

9/ Mitsubishi Motors
Designed by Yataro Iwasaki, in 1870.

Mitsubishi logo

10/ Shelter
Designed by Johnson Banks, in 2003.

Shelter logo

11/ 3M
Designed by Siegal & Gale, in 1977.

3M logo

12/ Apple
Designed by Regis McKenna Advertising, in 1977.

Apple logo

13/ Penguin
Designed by Edward Young, in 1935.

Penguin logo

14/ Families
Designed by Herb Lubalin, in 1980.

Families logo

15/ Waterways Trust
Designed by Pentagram, in 2000.

Waterways Trust logo

Are there any designs you’d add to this collection?

72 responses

  1. David,

    Congrats on the new blog . It looks great!

    Thanks for this post. I’m currently sweating over a logo design right now, and it’s good for me to remember that often simple is best.

    I’m interested in your inclusion of the 3M logo. Do you really think it’s a great logo on its own merits, or do you feel that it’s achieved its status as a design icon by its ubiquity? I’ve always liked it, but when I look at it critically, I really just see a nice sans-serif bold face kerned closely together.

  2. Hi Leslie, Michael, glad you like the new blog. I included the 3M logo because of its timelessness. It’s not based on a trend, is instantly recognisable, and brings what was otherwise a very long company name into a scalable identity. Let me know if you want an extra opinion on your project.

  3. For what it’s worth, I think Innocent is a brilliant brand despite it’s logo. An illustration of “one logo does not make a brand”. It’s pretty poorly designed: horizontally scaled name and tag line spaced to fit. Yes, that little guy has character but the overall impression is a logo that looks like it’s been thrown together in-house. Which may be exactly what they wanted. Only it wasn’t thrown together in-house. Still, don’t get me wrong: superb brand built on great values. A well crafted logo not being one of them.

    Great blog idea David. We’ll be back for more.

  4. Hi Richard, interesting take on Innocent. As you probably know, the design agency responsible — Deepend — went into liquidation two years later, so perhaps plenty of others share your thoughts. Glad you like the blog idea.

  5. This blog is awesome. Just so you know ;)

    My favorite logo on the list is the USA logo. I’ve loved it since the first time I turned the TV on and it was in the bottom right corner. lol

    Keep up the great articles!

  6. Hi David! Congratulations with the launch of your new logo blog. I’m sure it will be a very successful blog in a near future! When did you have time to post all those articles here?!

    I love Families logo. I featured it in my post of 8 Clever Logos. I’m also very fond of the WWF logo, it is very cute.

    It’s interesting how you have an image of a red heart at the beginning and the word LOVE at the end of your site’s name ;-)

  7. Really like a lot of those. I think it’s a nice notion to state the designers too, it brings home the fact that these massive brands were made by ordinary people (with extraordinary talents, granted), if you get me :s lol.

    Thanks – Harry

  8. I’m a bit surprised to see the logo for “Shelter” up on this list. It might be simple and memorable, but that’s due to it being so ugly. It’s a pain to see the “roof” of the H being bent in straight lines when the rest of the characters are smooth and curvy.

  9. Harry, Mike,

    You’re both very welcome.


    I’ll admit that when I first saw the Shelter logo on shop-front signage I didn’t like it, but for such a simple change to the type, it certainly does the job.


    Thanks for the kind words. It’s interesting that you pick up on the heart at the beginning of the site name, with ‘love’ at the end. Initially, the heart came after the type. That was until I saw my favicon in the browser tab and address bar. I figured it would be more consistent to switch the logo around to match.

    The ‘Families’ logo is one of my all-time favourites. Without doubt.


    Great of you to mention Logo Design Love on your Vandelay Design blog. Thanks very much.

  10. David,

    Love this list! The best, simple logos are almost like looking at a Barnett Newman painting. You can just stare and stare at the intricacies of every choice the designer made. Zen for design aficionados.

    Two favorites not on this list: FedEx and amazon. Oh, the arrow hiding in FedEx’s name! *Teary* just thinking of the mastery of minimalism there. And amazon’s smile under the name! Perfectly corny and Jeff Bezos’ grin comes right to mind.

    The clean, timeless logo can look fresh for decades, as you show here. A great list for a logo addict like myself. Thanks!



  11. I would would love to see a list of the top 10 or 20 oldest logos still in use. The GE and CocaCola come to mind, but I had no idea that Mitsubishi was that old or had a logo that old. 130 years old and it still looks like fresh. And the Underground? Wow – 100 years just about. Looks spring-chicken fresh! I’ve been posting my own logos on my blog lately – it’s certainly the most fun area of design for me, personally.

  12. Hi Kelly,

    Glad you like this list, and thanks for dropping by to comment on my new blog.


    Nice idea for a list of the oldest logo designs still in use. I think CocaCola or GE would look infantile placed beside the Christian cross, or Weltenburger Kloster of 1050 (I can’t be sure of that, but it’s a good idea of yours).

  13. Making something simple, yet usable and effective is by no means easy. Much respect to all the above mentioned logo designers! I guess, we can add PUMA’s and ADIDAS’ logos to the list, too. Though, it’s better to write a separate post on sport logos o the other hand as they are worth reading of :)

    P.S.: I won’t be too original congratulating you on the new blog, but really – congrats! Launching a good website takes a lot of time and effort, and even more when you have two of them :)))

  14. Great blog David! Logo you collected above are all great and I really got surprise that some of the logo are more than 30 years old but its amazing. Keep up the good work!

  15. Great set of logos! And congratulations on a great new blog by the way.

    I think a lot of these logos are down to opinion here as everyone seems to be asking; why this one, why that one?

    Well I’ll add another query for you! The British Golf Museum logo. What in your opinion makes this logo one of the best simple logos? The reason I ask is because personally, I think its dreadful! The inner text is far too small on what is actually quite a large/wide logo, the shape is awkward to work with, it takes a few moments to actually realise it’s a golf ball on a surface (Am I right??), and its just one of those logos that doesn’t quite feel right.


  16. My favourite is Message. Very creative. WWF has always been a hit with its perfect combination of being a non-profit organisation in posession of an extremely well designed and simple logo.

  17. I really like the Families one (seen it before, still love it). I also admire the Mother & Child logo. Lubalin had a very elegant simplicity to his designs! I didn’t realize some of these logos had been around so long! I wonder what they looked like in the beginning… Prudential (you probably know it as Pricoa or Pramerica) has an interesting logo history. It’s great to see it evolve over time. I’ll see if I can get you an image of it.

  18. Great article.
    I think 3M is a great logo for more than it’s durability. I think it may hook many of us subconsciously as it can be seen as the word ME as seen in a mirror.

  19. Brian, An Jay,

    Thanks for commenting.


    Your compliments on my blog are appreciated. Cheers. It’s true that there’s an element of subjectivity with logo design. Only the very best ones will find agreement from all designers.

    I’m not surprised that you pick up on the British Golf Museum logo, as I was contemplating leaving it out, or including a different one in its place. It actually shows a golf ball dropping into the hole – the ultimate goal in golf.


    Lubalin certainly created some of the best logos I’ve seen, and the Mother & Child design is fantastic. In the UK we know Prudential as just that, Prudential. Do you mean the same organisation I’ve linked to?


    The 3M logo such a strong symbol. Glad you like it too.

  20. bayer’s logo was designed by “ihap hulusi görey” who was almostly the first graphic designer of turkey.

  21. David, unfortunately, no–that’s the first organization that had the name Prudential in Europe but it’s not us. I guess there’s some law that two organizations cannot have the same name (or maybe it’s two organizations in the same industry), so we had to change it. We even have a disclaimer page about that. You would know my division (real estate) as Pramerica and my division’s sister group as Pricoa (relocation services) in the UK. Which reminds me that I was going to send you those logos…

  22. I would agree that the WWF panda is one of the classic icons. Sir Peter Scott may have designed the original in 1961 but the panda you show was designed in 1987 at Landor in San Francisco.

    At that time the WWF in the US was using one version and international was using another version. Jenny Leibundgut was the lead designer and I was the design director. The logotype was changed sometime in the late nineties. I would be glad to send a few files if you are interested.

  23. Keith,

    Glad you like the Families logo. I think it’s fantastic.


    There’s no doubting the Fedex logo, and how effective it is, but this list isn’t exhaustive, and I’ll be featuring more simple logo designs here soon. Stay tuned.


    Thanks for confirming that, and also for sending me an email. I’ve been incredibly busy lately so sorry for not replying sooner. I hope all’s well with you.


    Good of you to stop by and comment. I am very interested in those files you proposed sending over, and will drop you an email shortly.

  24. David:

    I propose, as you suggested up top, a list of the “World’s Oldest Logos”. You trumped me by going to the Cross (or “fish” symbol). That would be a fascinating story. I wonder what commonalities ancient marks have in common with “new” marks with longevity. What traits do they share? What gives a logo staying power? 1000 years for a brewery isn’t too shabby!

  25. How many people would have honestly spotted the arrow in the FedEx logo if it weren’t for smile in the mind?

    I didn’t until I read the book and love pointing it out to people. Afterwards it’s all I can see and wonder how I didn’t spot it in the first place. Bravo to the designer…

    Good call with the logo list above. i would’ve also added the IMB mark by Paul Rand.

    Take care.


  26. Douglas,

    You ask some great questions. Ideal for a future blog topic. Thanks.

    Felix, Kailoon,

    Cheers for dropping in.


    I’ve not read ‘A Smile in the Mind’. Would you recommend it? I’m always on the lookout for good graphic design books.

  27. Not so much convinced as including the shelter logo in this post. I would have placed a simpler logo such as the FedEx – with that subtle forward arrow. Still definately a nice collection – particularly the iconic London Underground logo – 1918 and it still rocks !

  28. Thanks for the recommendation, Rich.


    Whilst the ‘Shelter’ logo may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, it’s certainly memorable, easily described, doesn’t rely on colour and works well at all sizes. Many plus points.

  29. I’ve seen quite a few takes on the Families logo. When I see something this simple, I always wonder 1) how no one saw it before and 2) if we are going to run out of obvious icons buried inside of words in the next few years :)

    Is good logo design a bit like peak oil? How much more can we continue before we run out and all revert to simply using Courier for everything? :)

  30. Good question, Doug.

    The shape of logos could well be equated to fossil fuels, so it’s up to us, as the designers, to turn them into a renewable form of energy. Treading new paths as we go. (Or something like that.)

  31. Alll the above logos looks very simple and clean and also well thought out,they are rendered with a clean and a crisp touch, which are most important aspects of logo designing.

    Very smart logo designs

  32. Hey David. Thanks for the post. These are great, i’m sorry, simple-y great logo.

    An Indian company, Deccan 360, has unveiled a logo similar to usa network.
    (Link removed due to use of URL shortener.)

    Was Bierut right when he said, “If your idea isn’t working, steal one.”

  33. Very Elegant and Smart – Simple logo designs are the best form of branding which enhance the marketing and advertising.

  34. I am an amateur logo designer who has designed a few logos for my start-up companies. The best logo, in my opinion, is the one from Amnesty International. It’s very simple, beautiful and effective. However, I rarely see that logo being listed among the best logos. Why?

  35. This really is a classic set of logos that stand the test of time. It’s good to see an intelligent list of designs, too often it’s whatever the design flavour of the month, logos that look great on screen this week, but wouldn’t print or reproduce down small, like on business cards. Good stuff.

  36. Let’s see National Geographic. IMHO the world’s plainest logo, only a yellow standing rectangle, however immediately recognisable for masses.

  37. The Families one is amazing, never seen it before. I think the innocent one works very well because it looks like a child has drawn it, and has that childhood innocence feel about it.

  38. Shell and London Underground is two of my favourite logos. But my number one favourite is the swedish “ICA” logo, red, simple and clean. It haven’t changed for over 40 years!

  39. I absolutely love simple logos that work. Because more effort is given on the concept rather than a beautiful visual interpretation per se. So if successful, they are straight to the point and directly understood, hence smart.

  40. Hi

    Reading Logo Design Love and finding it an elegant and stimulating book. I was wondering if anyone can help identify the font that Armin Vit used in the JCJ Architecture illustration on page 73. David says it was Helvetica Neue before rebranding but doesn’t say in the book what the final revised font was. Any leads gratefully received!


  41. For me, the logo for ‘The Waterways Trust’ and ‘Families’ are the most intelligent identities on that (esteemed) list.

    The others are all good – but those two are the stand-out ones in my opinion.

  42. You know what I find funny, I completely agree with the fact that the most popular most recognizable logos are simple and flat.

    But, most start up companies looking for a logo seem to not recognize that fact. They are always looking dynamic complex logos. Also, if you look on crowdspring at any given time of they day, you will see nothing but complex, overdone (at times) logos.

  43. I really like these astonishing simple but effective logotypes. There is one I would like to nominate for the list; the Boeing logo. It’s so simple and stylish; I can really feel the power and speed and just wish to get airborne when I see it.

  44. Hi David,

    Congratulations! Your blog provides some very timely and compelling articles. One extremely simple logo, which inspires me to this day is Allan Fleming’s CN (Canadian National Railway) corporate image. It is one line, same depth all the way through. Although it was designed in 1960 it still resonates today. A true testament to its brilliance. It remains an inspiration to me.



  45. Hi David,

    Thank you very much for sharing this. I’m really interested in those logos. Very much appreciated. I got a chance to read a free chapter of your “A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities” book. Now I’m in a hurry to buy it. Thank you very much again.

    Good luck David.

    Best wishes from Kithsiri :-)

  46. I am enjoying LogoDesignLove (the book), and it has been fun to cross-reference some of the brands cited with where they are today. CIGNA, for instance, retains the tree of life concept in its current logo, but the form has been anthropomorphized a bit. The trunk now doubles as a person with hands raised. On the other hand, it appears JCJ Architecture subsequently reverted to the Helvetica Neue typeface it abandoned in Armin Vit’s 2008 redesign. I suppose Helvetica Neue, once a bit hackneyed in the mid-1990s, is new once again.

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