A Branding Story: How the New Apple Logo Was Created

By Gerd Waloszek

To overview of UI Design Thoughts

You know Apple, the company that created the Apple II, the Lisa, and the Macintosh computers? You don't? It's the same company that markets the iPod mp3 player. Ah, now you know... Apple Computers Inc., as is the "full" name of this company, is in the business for more than 30 years and started its career with a nice and colorful logo: an apple in rainbow colors with a piece bitten off:

Original Apple logo

Figure 1: The original Apple logo

Even though the colorful Apple logo was a well-known and established brand (at least in the USA), Apple decided to rebrand the company and to change its hallmark, the logo, a couple of years ago when their new operating system OS X was introduced. The new logo had more ore less the same shape but was all white:

Original Apple logo

Figure 2 : The new white Apple logo (there are also other variants)

From then on, this new logo decorated and still decorates the cover of each PowerBook laptop computer. So you can easily count them on UI conferences, such as the CHI conference. And the logo is lit, which makes recognizing the PowerBooks even easier...

Apple logo on powerbook

Figure 3 : The new Apple logo on the cover of a PowerBook

You may have wondered how Apple did this rebranding, and perhaps you may have read stories such as this one: Apple hired the famous design company XYZ who did extensive studies, tested the results with users, until they finally came out with the new design, costing several million dollars. The truth, however, is much more profane – as I found out this morning...

Apple logo stickers

Figure 4: Apple logo stickers

This morning, I had to collect our green garbage can from the street after it had been emptied by the garbage men in the early morning. And when I looked at the lid of the garbage can, the scales fell from my eyes! As one of the few computer owners in Germany who bought Apple computers year after year, we had collected quite a number of Apple logo stickers (you get a couple of them with each computer). So we glued them here and there: One place was the garbage can so that we could identify it easier after it had been emptied and stood about somewhere in the street. However, these stickers are not water-proof. After a couple of months, the outer plastic layer carrying all the colors peels away and only a white layer of glue, forming a white Apple logo, remains in place. And that's what I saw this morning.

cuneiform writing      Trajan's column
Figure 5: The garbage can with Apple logo, ...   Figure 6: ... which has already suffered from some losses....

Got the story? One morning, when Steven jobs collected his garbage can from the street, he noticed that the color layer had peeled away from the logo that he had attached to his garbage can. "Wow!" he thought to himself, "That's terrific, this will be our new logo!"


Originally Published: 07/21/2006 - Last revision: 02/01/2009

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