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The world’s best logo designers?

Update: 22 August 2008
I’ve learned a lot about designers since publishing this short post (about blogging, too — it’s always a little naive to add “best” to any post title). So I’ve launched a new website dedicated to logo greats. You can view the resource here: iconic logo designers.

This blog has quite an emphasis on logo design, so I’ve put together a little background on some of the most notable graphic designers in history. Here follows iconic names such as Herb Lubalin, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, along with some examples of their logo designs and a brief biographical background.

It’s worth mentioning that these people are renowned for many disciplines, not just logo design.

Herb Lubalin

Born 1918. Died 1981.

Herb Lubalin

Herb’s Families logo was designed in 1980 and the Marriage logo in 1965 (both above).

Read more about Herb Lubalin here.

Paul Rand

Born 1914, New York, USA. Died 1996.

Paul Rand

Rand is responsible for the ABC logo (American Broadcasting Company) from 1962 and the IBM logo (both above).

Read more about Paul Rand here.

Milton Glaser

Born 1929, New York, USA.

Milton Glaser

Since founding Milton Glaser, Inc. in 1974, the work produced at his Manhattan studio has encompassed a wide range of design disciplines, including identity programs for corporate and institutional marketing purposes and logos (among them the ‘I love New York’ logo for the New York state department of commerce, that became the most frequently imitated logo design in human history).

View more of Milton Glaser’s identity projects here.

Read more about Milton Glaser here.

Saul Bass

Born 1920, New York, USA. Died 1996.

Saul Bass

Saul Bass’s long and prolific career has influenced legions of designers. Bass studied at the Art Students League with Howard Trafton and at Brooklyn College with Gyorgy Kepes. After working in New York for a number of years, he moved to Los Angeles and founded Saul Bass & Associates in 1946.

Bass was a design innovator, in the corporate world with logos for AT&T and United Airlines (both above) and working with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Otto Preminger.

Read more about Saul Bass here.

Walter Landor

Born 1913, Munich, Germany. Died 1995.

Walter Landor

What is probably Landor’s most famous logo is that of Fedex (shown above). The negative space ‘arrow’ has been well documented. The peoplepc logo (also above) is another that I enjoy. However, today Landor Associates don’t always get it right, such as their awful attempt at Italy’s national logo.

Visit the Landor website here.

Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar

Chermayeff born Chechen Republic. Geismar born New Jersey, dates TBA.

Chermayeff and Geismar

“Design is directed toward human beings. To design is to solve human problems by identifying them and executing the best solution.”
— IVAN CHERMAYEFF

Chermayeff and Geismar designed the famous Mobil logo (shown above) and developed a complete corporate identification program with continuing consultation for 35 years. The program was built around the logo, a specially designed alphabet, a clear policy for colour, and a comprehensive design approach that integrated new graphics with new architecture. It included design of product packaging, vehicle markings, print material, posters and all design, packaging and sign standards for facilities throughout the world.

Read more about Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar here.

Bob Gill

Born 1931, New York, USA.

Bob Gill

In 1962, Gill, Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes established Fletcher / Forbes / Gill design studio, the forerunner of Pentagram (design studio).

LogoMania, his latest book, sets out to prove that there are unlimited good solutions to any problem. Gill designed thirty two logos for the same client.

Graphic Design as a Second Language is a superb book that details Gill’s design process. Highly recommended.

Read more about Bob Gill here.

Wally Olins

Born in London, England.

Wally Olins

According to Wikipedia, Wally Olins is generally recognised as the world’s most experienced practitioner of corporate identity and branding.

Wally was awarded a CBE in 1999. He was nominated for the Prince Philip Designers Prize in 1999 and received the Royal Society of Arts’ Bicentenary Medal for his contribution to the design and marketing industry.

Read more about Wally Olins here.

Minale Tattersfield

Founded 1964 by Italian, Marcello Minale and Yorkshireman, Brian Tattersfield. Today there are many partners.

Minale Tattersfield partners

Minale and Tattersfield met while working at the advertising agency Young & Rubicam. Here they gained invaluable experience in broad-based commercialism, marketing and research which, combined with the deeper culture of their training as designers, gave them a tremendous advantage over others in their field when they set up their own practice.

You can view some of the Minale Tattersfield agency‘s work by clicking on the client names below:

Who’s your favourite logo designer?

Of course this list is by no means exclusive. Your input is very welcome.

Update:
Don’t forget to visit a more definitive resource: iconic logo designers.

My second book on Amazon

Related posts

85 comments about “The world’s best logo designers?”

  1. hi david,

    i totally agree that those mentioned above are ones of the best logo designers.
    i’m just wondering if you have considered Dennis Hwang into the list. he is the designer that “takes care” of google’s logo :).

    webee
    [is a design blog]

  2. I really like the peoplepc and families logos. The peoplepc with the smiley face and families with the… well family representation (Dad, mum and kid).
    Hope I made sense :(

  3. webee, I know of Dennis Hwang, but consider him an illustrator rather than a logo designer. After all, the Google logo was designed by Ruth Kedar.

    Tolumi, those two are great. I’m not so keen on the Orange logo. It’s more an example of effective branding than design.

  4. Thanks for this post David – I Dugg it! Here’s how lame I am: I never noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo until just recently when it was pointed out to me. I’m in the middle of a logo design now, so looking at the “greats” is always helpful.

  5. Lubalin and Olins have always been my faves. Definitely no arguing with them being in the list!

    Not sure I agree that Chermayeff & Geismar are among the world’s best, although they’re certainly good.

    I’d like to see Paula Scher and Michael Bierut on the list – some great identities especially in the last couple of years. One of my Paula favourites is this: http://tinyurl.com/322a9z and I love the Saks redesign by Michael: http://tinyurl.com/2p7n8b

  6. Randa,
    Neither did I, embarrassingly enough. :D Saw it mentioned randomly on some blog the other day, and thought “shit, that’s clever”.

    Interesting post, David!

  7. No, I don’t think these are the best logo designers at all. Besides most of them aren’t really designers, they are art directors. Bob Gill is one of my design hero’s but I don’t hink he was that great at logo design. Saul Bass created incredible title sequences for film but his logo’s were never that great. Walter Landor didn’t design Fed Ex, his company did (and that’s about the best thing they have done!). Herb Lublin’s work is probably the strongest of all the logo’s shown here.

    I think lists of ‘greatest designers’ are pointless. It’s good to get the best work exposed to those who haven’t seen them but there are a lot of people missing from this list. I’d include Minale Tattersfield in the list along with The Partners, Robert Brownjohn Lewis Moberly, Michael Peters, Carrol Dempsey and Thirkell and…well, there are many others.

  8. Randa, thanks for the Digg. It’s worth taking my choices with a pinch of salt, instead judging for yourselves.

    minxlj, thanks for those links. I don’t think the Met Opera identity is special, and the Saks redesign seems to be a mash-up of their 1973 logo. What appeals to you about them?

    Lee, I’ve added a mention of Minale Tattersfield, and I enjoyed taking a look at The Partners website. What do you think of their work for Liverpool Victoria?

  9. Interesting post David, there’s some designs which have really stood the test of time, and it’s cool to see the people behind them.

    Congrats on the PR6 as well- wow :-)

  10. I can’t believe I’ve actually heard of Saul Bass and Paul Rand. But I guess when I look at their work it’s some of the most seen logos in the states today. Somewhere I had to read something about them – just can’t place it.

    I’ve played with logo design a bit myself. I find it to be really difficult. But when it’s done well, it can make a huge difference in branding a company.

  11. Hi,

    An interesting post as usual. I think I might check out the LogoMania book, do you have it? I was just wondering as you write a lot about logos is this your favourite area of design?

  12. I never noticed the FedEx arrow either :(

    BTW…was there a designer assassin going around in 1995-96??

  13. Dawud, I agree, it’s not easy, and takes a lot of research/sketching to create something that works.

    Chris, thanks for the congrats — one small step for David Airey.

    Tara, I don’t have the Logomania book. I do have Graphic Design as a Second Language, which is great. If you buy the former, let me know what you think. Logos are just one aspect of graphic design that I love. Do you have a favourite area?

    Armen, I think a few of them were quite close. In a pact?

  14. Hi David

    I will check out Graphic Design as a Second Language too. I am a bit addicted to Amazon so have to control myself or I will buy both.

    My favourite area of design, which I guess is more towards art direction is coming up with ad concepts including headlines. I find conceptual work far more interesting than pure layout.

  15. Great post, David. It’s always nice paying homage to the masters. Lubalin is def a favorite of mine as well.

  16. Wow, the arrow totally escaped me. I had to sit looking at it for a minute before light finally dawned! :P This is a really thought provoking entry when it comes to design and branding. Some of the logos you showed are so ingrained in our generation that we don’t even stop to think about them as a process of design… or at least I never have. I’m not a logo designer though, so maybe it’s just me. Anyway it’s nice to see the faces behind these timeless logos.

  17. Thanks David, a really interesting post!

    I’m not in a position to agree or disagree with your choices so I bow down to your superior knowledge. I’ve never heard of any of those designers that you’ve listed, but have seen most of the logos before.

    A couple of years back I did a logo project which looked at the work of Gerard Huerta, which is pretty good stuff.

  18. Um, Milton Glaser? Where you at Milty?

    By the way I forwarded this post off to the boys at work. Great list.

  19. Some more from minale tattersfield:

  20. Fantastic blog! I’ve stumbled upon a number of your logo-related posts and they’ve given me a boost of confidence to continue with a couple logos I’m working on this month. I’m finding Logo Pond to be not-so-helpful in finding inspiration.

    As far as the FedEx logo, one of the major people behind it is Lindon Leader (or so Google tells me).

    Read more about him here:
    http://www.thesneeze.com/mt-archives/000273.php

  21. Ian, good suggestion, if only for his I love New York logo. Added.

    deelirium, that’s a nice read. Cheers. LogoPond is hit and miss for me.

  22. Great list. I’m a huge Olins fan myself.

  23. According to this site:
    http://www.thesneeze.com/mt-archives/000273.php
    Lindon Leader designed the FedEx logo, not Walter Landor. Anyone know what the story is?

  24. weeeeell. Milton, I’m not TOO impressed with. I wasn’t SUPER impressed with Bob Gill either, thought his book “Forget All the Rules About Graphic Design: Including the Ones in This Book” is SWEET!!!!!
    Bass logos are solid as are Landons. I love logos where there are things hidden! SO COOL!!

  25. I’m a little bit shocked that some people here have never heard of these designers???? It doesn’t matter what career you’re in, you should always be aware of the leaders in the field – not just who is ‘fashionable’ at the moment.

    “Thanks for those links. To be honest though I don’t think the Met Opera identity is anything special, and the Saks redesign seems to be a mash-up of their 1973 logo. What appeals to you about them?”

    The Saks design is an appreciative nod back to the 1973 design – the most classy of all the logos Saks have had, and Pentagram’s application of this has embodied what Saks is all about. I mean, Tiffany & Co’s logo isn’t the most groundbreaking thing ever designed, BUT it is impeccably styled, classic, beautiful typography, which tells you immediately how upmarket the company is.

    With all the shiny, reflective, modern logos of Web 2.0 kicking about – and don’t get me wrong, some are brilliant – the beautiful, artful typographic logo stands out, such as the Metropolitan Opera logo. It’s simple, classy, elegant, and with a bit of clever association about it (obviously nicknamed ‘The Met’). In 50 years time it will still look classy – logos don’t have to be complicated to work well.

  26. Jonathan, the FedEx logo was created by Lindon Leader when he worked for Landor Associates. Lindon now heads up Leader Creative.

    minxlj, I completely agree. More often than not it’s the simple logos that stand the test of time.

  27. While it’s true that logos don’t have to be complicated to work – I would even say they can’t be complicated and work – they usually have to be complicated to sell. ;)

  28. You need to be careful about some of this – the Fedex logo was indeed created by Lindon Leader (at Landor) a year after Landor hiumself died. Wally Olins, whilst he was at Wolff Olins at the time, didn’t work on the orange account, and is himself a brand consultant not a designer.

  29. We enjoyed looking over the list of well known logo designers/branding experts and thank you for the emails. Good corporate identities should not only raise the visibility of a company but add the professional look to the business which is something the chaps above have achieved. I should say that most of the guys here a big Wally Olins fans.

  30. Wally Olins has nothign to do with Wolf Olins anymore in case anyone posts something about him in connection with the London Olympics logo 2112 which was designed by Wolf Olins. Wally works for a company called Saffron now.

  31. What about Louise Fili, Mark Fox or Mark Verlander? Fili’s work is exquisite and superbly crafted. Fox is a consummate logo designer and has created some enduring and iconic marks. Verlander is one of the great undiscovered talents of logo design, despite some very high profile work (Houston Texans, Bengals, Falcons, etc.).

    There are also a great many designers who do terrific work for clients who aren’t household names (i.e. my own logo for Paradox Media, some years back).

  32. Hi Christopher, thanks for stopping by. This is by no means exclusive. Very subjective, too. That’s half the reason why I added a question mark in the title.

  33. Certainly. Just pitching in my 2¢, the comment wasn’t intended to be critical.

    BTW, I thought about tossing Art Chantry into the mix as well, but that gets into a whole different discussion of authenticity, etc. Certainly Landor, Wolf Olins, Chermayeff + Geismar, Rand, Bass, et al have shaped how we all look at and think about logos. Of course there will always be gems from less expected sources as well.

    Anyway, nice blog. I’ll be checking back. :)

  34. You are missing 1. …probably the best logo designer you will ever find.

    Raja Sandhu

  35. Christopher, no worries, I didn’t take your comment to be critical.

    Tim, I’ve seen Raja’s portfolio before. Some are superb whereas others are overly complicated. Thanks for the link.

  36. Landor Associates delivers really really poor work nowadays, they did a package pitch against our internal graphic team and their design got horrible reviews when we showed it in focusgroups, while ours did excellent!

  37. and what about Leo Burnett..

  38. Leo Burnett the advertising guru? For logos? Er…probably not!

  39. Thanks, Lee.

  40. i like Herb Lubalin’s logo a lot, simple, meaningful and memorable.

  41. WHERE IS MASSIMO VIGNELLI???

  42. I appreciate your homage to such great designers. Many of those mentioned have given me inspiration for years. Saul Bass continually tops my list when the topic comes up. You can see more brilliance in his movie title designs (North By Northwest comes to mind). I believe he designed the revised AT&T logo — the original globe design — which has since been altered, much to my dismay.

  43. Massimo Vignelli uses to resolve logos with Helvetica. And if not, then he swaps to Bodoni. He’s so strict. But he’s one of my design heroes as well.

    I think the best identity or logo designer in these days is Miles Newlin (Unilever, 3, Ono, Honda). Check out http://www.newlyn.com

  44. Thanks for the continued comments, and for the Miles Newlyn reference.

  45. Hi there, nice list, I would definitely add Dutch Studio Dumbar (www.studiodumbar.com)

  46. thanks for the overview… and the comments are quite valuable as a resource too! Cheers!

  47. David asks:
    Who is your favourite logo designer?

    Sven Seger, who leads design and branding at Siegel + Gale is up there:
    http://www.siegelgale.com/work/portfolio/

    I see Leanne mentioned Michael Bierut.
    http://pentagram.com/en/partners/michael-bierut.php

    Jerry Kuyper

    Neville Brody

    I see Joe Finocchiaro also gets a mention.
    Love the Cisco redesign.

    I spent a lot of time here at your site.

    I’m definitely adding you to my blog roll. I found you on Designers Who Blog. I think I’ll submit.

    cheers,
    Chris

  48. Hi Chris,

    Great of you to list your favourites. Thanks.

    Cat runs a very nice resource at Designers Who Blog. Do go ahead and submit your own blog.

    It’d be a pleasure were you to list me on your blogroll. Good of you to stop by.

  49. I’ve been a graphic designer more than half of my life and i feel just great finding a forum website for designers like this one where we can share views and learn more relevant issues and insights about graphic trends. Hopefully this can also be a hub where we can submit works and get inputs from professionals like you.

  50. Great choice of legends. I agree on one of the previous posts, Gerard Huerta is a personal inspiration of mine and feel he is a highly unrecognized for his outstanding work.

  51. Wonderful article! By the way, Ivan Chermayeff was born in 1900, not in 1990 :)

  52. Hi Ildar,

    Thanks for catching that glaring error!

  53. Those logos are iconic and effortlessly, timeless. They were definitely the best designers of our time. David, I’ve checked your portfolio and I’m totally impressed by your Miskeeto logo. It’s simple and gives an impact at the same time. Truly wonderful.

    I’ve found out these days the web has so many design sites offering to design logo designs at such low prices it’s now a norm to employ their service. I’ve recently came across an old WIRED article which is quite an interesting read. You guys should check it out: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.10/start.html?pg=13 Long are the days where people would go to the nearest local design firm to ask for a logo.

    Some of my friends did use these online services though I’m quite skeptical about them… I can’t say why. Sites like LogoWorks, LogoDesignCreation, MyCustomLogo, etc are generally providing good design service but those freelance designers out there are the ones left suffering. Times are definitely changing.

  54. Hi Jessica,

    Times have changed, for sure, but there’ll always be plenty of design projects available for those who price their work above those ‘stock logo’ sites you mention.

    You just have to think about the number of years you’ll be using your logo for, then weigh that up against what you believe you should pay for a logo that will last the duration. The last thing you want is to use a logo that needs changed after you’ve been in business a year or two.

  55. The I love New York logo maybe the most simple but influential logo I have seen.

  56. First of all great post, I had not heard of half of the names in the list, yet I had seen all the logos.
    I particularly love the work of Paul Rand, but now that I’ve seen some other names I’m definitely checking out more of the work they did.

    The comments are almost a post of their own even, many great links are mentioned.

  57. Hello Jesse,

    Your spot on about the comments. I’m very grateful to everyone who spends a little time adding to this post with their own thoughts. Yourself included.

  58. I enjoyed this post, but I note the lack of female designers represented. Hard to believe when the arguably best known logo in the world is the Nike Swoosh designed by Caroline Davidson.

    Why do you think this is, the underrepresented female designers? Are there fewer of us? Are we not recognized? Are we doing less “superstar” work for more mundane jobs, or do we have fewer “superstar” opportunities?

    On that note, here is a link to an article and to a NYT blog entry about how Glaser responded when the glass ceiling was pointed out to him at a question and answer session:

    http://www.designobserver.com/archives/020303.html

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/12/07/women-will-never-be-rock-star-designers/

  59. These might be well recognised. But they are certainly not the best, although I do admire sauls work.

  60. Hi Madonna,

    You ask a good question, and one worthy of an individual blog post. There’s no doubt a huge number of talented female designers exists, so it’s certainly an idea to feature more. Thanks for the links.

    Pete,

    ‘Best’ is a very subjective word. Lee makes a good point in this comment.

  61. Great list! Milton Glaser’s I Love NY logo just keeps going and going – it doesn’t get old. I second Chris Grayson’s mention of Neville Brody. His work is incredible.

  62. Paul Rand FTW!

  63. Excellent list.

    Might deserve an updated composite with comment adds.

    Anyone interested in Font and custom logotype design might want to search for Lubalin’s out of print, U&LC publication. I miss those issues arriving in the mail in the 70’s.

  64. Scott, James,

    Cheers for dropping by.

    Kent,

    You’re right. An updated post is long overdue. Defintely one for the ‘to-do’ list.

  65. I have to say I don’t agree with this list. It’s suprising to me how very few good logos some of these guys actually created for being so famous. It’s hard to find a “modern” list of great designers by the way. Maybe you can make one.

  66. Hello Derek,

    Yes, this post is quite old, and I’ve learnt a fair bit since then. You might be interested in another website of mine, launched quite recently: iconic logo designers. I’d value any feedback you might have.

  67. Hey David,

    I think you should put your name in the list as well.

    I think logos designed by Herb Lubalin are one of the best logos.

    The “Marriage” logo concept is superb.

  68. Hi Mark,

    I could never place my name amongst such company, but appreciate your kind sentiments.

  69. I have seen Paul Rand IBM logo just because of strong brading his logo is famous around the world but as far of concept wise Walter Landor peoplepc and Herb Lubalin families logos are the briliant ideas

  70. Hi David,

    I think John Langdon is worth mentioning as well.
    Check out http://www.johnlangdon.net

    Love his work.

  71. I appreciate the recommendation, Stefan. Here’s a blog post you may find of interest:

    15 inspiring ambigram logos

  72. Very good post – not only because I enjoyed it but also because it gave me food for thought. Your post just sparked an idea for a woodworking project I’ve been contemplating. Thank you so much.

    Stumbled it!

  73. Amazed and inspired by the intellectual designs you have shown here by Herb Lubalin – love what he has done with both ‘Families’ and ‘Marriage’. Thanks for puting this post together.

  74. Hi, David
    I just came across the excellent blog of your . truly these are icons itself on there own, and a great inspiration to all of us like designers. One such name I would like to suggest here that I did’nt find and who is also among top is of Malcom Grear, an exceptional graphic designer of both past and present whose designs are till now truly amazing and appreciated.
    Thanks.

  75. Where is Chwast

  76. I wouldn’t really consider Seymour Chwast a branding/symbol/logo designer. In fact, I see him as more as an illustrator than a designer. Although if someone is willing to show me work that disproves my impression of him then I’m all eyes.

  77. David,
    thank you for the response, and , I
    hope I did not get in the way of
    creativity this morning.

    Best,

    David h

  78. My thanks goes to Lee, for keeping up with the chat here, and to you, too, David. It’s always good receiving design-related comments here.

  79. David,
    This becomes more interesting with every post.
    When is a brand created?
    Is it when a manufacturer says it is?
    Is it when the logo is finalized and the packaging approved?
    Or, is it when somone in an organization with a financial stake in that
    organization says it is.
    I know when a logo is done.
    It’s when the client says so.

    david

  80. Multiple choice:

    A. A brand is created when a product or service becomes more than just a product or service.

    B. A brand is created when a product or service has a personality, when it forms an emotional attachment with it’s audience.

    C. Everything is a brand.

    4. All of the above.

  81. where’s michael doret?

  82. Hi, i really like Lance Wyman, one of my favorites, hope you like his work

  83. I’m responding late in the chat. I’ve always had Pentagram on the top of my list, even though it’s a group of designers; their work is consistently always so strong. I always flip through my copy of “Pentagram Marks” before I get started sketching concepts on my own projects. :-) Another dark horse is Stefan Kanchev: http://stefankanchev.com/en/

  84. A great little book, Nancy, and Kanchev’s a good shout, too. I featured him over on Logo Design Love a while back:

    http://www.logodesignlove.com/stefan-kanchev

  85. …er, ROB JANOFF… the apple logo?

Anything to add?

Comments may be edited or deleted if I don't like the cut of your jib, but that's quite unlikely.