Famous Hand Lettered Logos and Their Stories
One of the most common reasons for hand lettering in logo design history is because founders wanted to make their mark on the company, and therefore use his/her own handwriting in the logo design. Over time, these logos have been refined and rebranded, but there’s something especially charming about the original owner casting vision into the lifespan of his/her company’s most iconic image.
Here’s a few stories about the origin of some of the most iconic hand lettered logo designs:
The famous Cadbury script logo was first introduced in 1921 and was based on William Cadbury’s signature. It was a major modification from the previous elaborate tree logo. Initially, the signature was difficult to replicate as a brand logo but was simplified over the years to accommodate this challenge. In 1952 the script logo was used in all major product lines.
Kellogg’s logo has an interesting story. Company legend has it the founder William Keith Kellogg used to sign each corn flakes box personally to demonstrate the genuinity of their products. Gradually, the personalized signature was upgraded to become the company’s logo. Today, the updated hand lettered signature is a redesigned version created by Interbrand.
Kleenex Logo by Saul Bass, 1980
One of the most influential logo designers of his time, Saul Bass was known for his clean lines, iconic logos, and timeless designs. Bass proved that even hand lettered work can stand the test of time, remain memorable, and compete with modern trends with his Kleenex logo design.
When considering using a hand lettered design for your company or your client, take into account your audience. Hand lettered logos can work well in any industry, but the lettering style in which you choose depends greatly on who will be most attracted to your design.
For example, with brands like Cadbury, Kellog’s, and Kleenex, the audience was taken into mind. These are all household brands, marketed to homemakers and the ones doing the shopping and likely the cooking. Each of them brands over 50 years old, they originally marketed to housewives and mothers. The fun, inviting aesthetic is disarming, cute, and clearly doesn’t take it’s message too seriously. At the same time, these brands are trustworthy, strong, and established. You can see the growth from a classic and charming to a more clean and modern as the culture grew with its audience and included any parent or guardian.
Finally, a more punk-rock style of lettering was used in Richard Branson’s iconic brand, Virgin.
According to Virgin's brand story a young designer scribbled the company’s name on a paper napkin which became iconic when Richard Branson saw and fell in love with it for its “simplicity, attitude and energy”.
The handwritten logo became the company’s signature as well as representation of it's brand persona as the disrupting, exciting and innovative brand of the world.
Hand lettered logos have incredible potential in the world of branding and marketing today, but as a designer, it takes practice and intention to create a timeless design that is both professional and conveys the right message to the right audience.
Lilah Higgins is a designer, illustrator, and artist currently based in Northwestern Wyoming. Taking her fine art training and strategic mind into the online space, she helps clients brand cohesively and effectively across platforms, bringing them the confidence they need to become industry leaders. You can find more about her and her work at www.lilahhiggins.com.
This article has been reviewed and verified by Zaheer Dodhia, an expert in logo design and branding.