Unilever appointed Wolff Olins to help create a new brand identity for the company, with the intention of clearly expressing it’s “vitality mission.”

Unilever logo

“The logo consists of twenty five icons intricately woven together to form a U, replacing the old logo that had been used since 1970. Working with creative director Lee Coomber, we used a fluid creative process whereby we thought about how and what Unilever does, whilst drawing icons and the U simultaneously.”
— Miles Newlyn

Unilever icons explained

Unilever logo icons

Unilever logo icons

Unilever logo icons

Explanatory images courtesy of Unilever.


I’ve always liked the Unilever logo, but had no idea that there was a “hidden” meaning to all the icons. The only thing I ever thought was “I wonder how well this would reproduce at small sizes”…

That’s the beauty of this logo, up close it has so much meaning. When I see it on a bottle of shampoo it reads as U for Unilever. It’s the perfect mix of practicality and significance.

Thanks for sharing, I’ve always wondered.

At first glance I thought it was put together well but at the same time perhaps trying to do too much. However, after reading about the individual elements, it makes more sense and I like how the elements can be brought out individually as shown in the advert.

I’ve always admired the way they neatly and symbolically put together all those icon like shapes to form a such a versatile logo. Thanks for identifying the all shapes and correcting some of the ones I guessed wrong.

I agree with Kelly. I did think the logo was too complex. In design, we’ve come to understand the principle of less is more. But upon understanding each individual element, you can’t help but admire the fact that the complex design holds so much relevance within the simple shape of a ‘U’. It’s inspiring stuff.

Always thought that logo was interesting and beautiful, but never knew the true meaning behind the icons. I can now sleep soundly at night – Thanks for sharing.

It’s a really cool logo and I’m proud it’s from The Netherlands. I often walk by the Unilever office.

What people do need to know; Unilever is not always what all these icons stand for. Look at what they wanted to do with Ben and Jerry’s. They wanted to change the ingredients and Ben and Jerry’s disagreed.

Good to see people still enjoy this logo. It was many, many hard hours in the creation.

One of the reasons the logo reproduces so well at small sizes is because the icons have been drawn using the same principles as drawing a font i.e. the positive and negative spaces complement each other proportionately. This is why Miles did such a fantastic job, this is his sweet spot. He’d admit to not being a natural illustrator but this meant we had a great collaboration which I think helped give the final logo a real personality of it’s own.

Ummm, I love the logo and the idea. It is very unique and interesting. But the meaning for hair kind of disturbed me. I think hair is not really the symbol for looking good or beauty. There are many people who have cancer and have lost their hair, so it kind of discourages them. It’s like you cannot look good if you don’t have hair. Sorry, but it’s straight from my heart. Not being mean or anything.

Thanks for the insight mr.Cooper.

Great execution and a very sober Dutch concept. It fits it well.

This is just pretentious nonsense. I’m all for hidden meanings in logos when the consumer can be pointed out the clever trick and they go Aah! In this case on most consumer products, the symbols can’t be seen with the naked eye, so what’s the point!

This is one of those case when the client doesn’t look clever, just the designer does!

Wow what a poor logo. We can’t synthesize the one great idea behind this company, so let’s throw everything in. Wait — it all makes sense! A palm tree, DNA and “sauces and spreads!” Why didn’t I see it sooner?

How long will it be before this logo looks dated, confused and overly busy? Check your stopwatches.

Only positivd comments allowed?
I always wondered about this logo. What I found now is interesting – this is how it was explained to me before. From left, turn, to right.
Big bang. DNA, first plants, animals, humans. First cooking, civilisation, becoming weird. Religion, developement is turning against us, chemistry, mutation (‘wave’ looks like a frog), polution to the cloth, headless but in love, plants become frozen – different plants with changed DNA inside, nano particles, trying to turn, recycle. Talking. Explosion or peace. Or explosion, then ‘peace’… And the ‘ice cream’ looked like a snail to me – no idea. :)
Sorry for the bad english.

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