The Best Logos of the 1980s

The Best Logos of the 1980s

The 1980s continue to strongly influence contemporary pop culture, from music and television to design aesthetics and fashion styles. But what makes the 1980s stand out so vividly?

The key to understanding the impact of the 1980s lies in its stark contrast to the preceding decade. As a child, I distinctly recall the 1970s being marred by economic instability, resource shortages, industrial strikes, and recurring power outages, largely triggered by the energy crisis 1973. On top of these challenges, societal issues such as racial prejudice and the looming threat of nuclear conflict were prevalent.

The advent of the 1980s brought a wave of change, and although it wasn’t without its flaws, the era was largely characterized by a sense of optimism. Economies worldwide began to regain stability, new technological advancements improved daily life, the tension of the Cold War began to ease, and the rise of an affluent black middle class heralded an era of racial progress.

The era’s distinctive cultural world mirrored this newfound optimism. There was a veritable explosion of bright aesthetics, unprecedented creativity, and an indulgent sense of extravagance that could be seen everywhere, from flashy fashion trends to irresistible synth-pop tunes.

Air Jordan Jumpman

Air Jordan 'Jumpman' Logo

Nike’s Air Jordan Jumpman logo, epitomizing the resurgence of optimism in the 1980s, features the basketball legend Michael Jordan in dynamic motion. However, this symbol of positive energy has been controversial since its inception.

The silhouette is popularly believed to be based on a photo shoot for Life magazine conducted by then-student Jacobus Rentmeester just before the 1984 Olympic Games. Although Nike initially licensed the shot, they faced copyright issues, prompting them to restage it with a different photographer. The second image became the basis for the final emblem, crafted in 1988 by Tinker Hatfield, which was inspired by a sketch idea from Air Jordan’s creator, Peter Moore.

Upon Rentmeester’s objection, he asserts that Nike compensated him with US$15,000 for a limited two-year license applicable only to North America for using his image in posters and billboards. However, when he alleged that Nike had violated the terms of this agreement, he initiated a lawsuit against the company in 2015. The court ruled in Nike’s favor, concluding that Nike did not replicate the photo but merely drew inspiration from it. Regardless of the legal disputes, the logo has remained a timeless design, reminiscent of a cherished era of sporting brilliance.


Apple Logo

The Apple logo from the 1980s, now replaced with a more minimalist, single-color design, nevertheless encapsulates the quintessence of the decade’s design aesthetics. This rainbow-colored version of the logo remains an iconic symbol of the era.

This logo’s vibrant and multicolored design was a significant departure from the more traditional, conservative logos associated with technology companies of that time. This vivid use of color reflected the bold and lively design trends of the 1980s and a visual representation of the innovative spirit that was synonymous with Apple.

The rainbow color scheme of the logo was not just a mere aesthetic choice. It had a distinct relevance to Apple’s pioneering endeavors in the technology field. The rainbow logo appeared in 1984, coinciding with the launch of the Apple II computer, the first of its kind to feature a color display.

The logo was a redesign by Landor & Associates, an adaptation of a similar design created by Rob Janoff in 1977. The design has stood the test of time and is a classic representation of minimalistic perfection in logo design.

The emblem consists of two simple shapes – an apple and a leaf; the design is deceptively simple. The distinctive bite taken out of the apple, a feature included to distinguish it from a cherry, adds to the logo’s uniqueness. The leaf mirrors the shape of the apple, creating a harmonious symmetry.

While unverified, there is an enduring myth associated with the logo. The bite from the apple allegedly pays homage to Alan Turing, often referred to as the father of modern computing. Persecuted for his homosexuality, Turing tragically took his own life by consuming an apple laced with cyanide. Whether true or not, this tale lends a potentially poignant symbolism to the logo.


AT&T Logo

The AT&T logo, a distinct emblem with its blue and white striped globe design, is easily identifiable even to those not associated with the brand. The iteration of the logo from the 1980s closely resembles its modern-day version.

The design philosophy of the 1980s was predominantly about standing out and ensuring visibility. Numerous businesses embraced this approach during this era, but companies such as AT&T, which aimed to project an image of professionalism, adopted a slightly different tack.

AT&T’s emblem, with its geometrically precise globe design and striking color scheme, is a testament to this approach. Its logo’s interplay of bold colors and crisp geometric shapes conveyed the company’s values of stability, reliability, and professionalism, balancing the attention-grabbing ethos of the ’80s and its desired brand image.

Back to the Future

Back to the Future Logo

In an ironic twist for a film about time travel primarily set in the 1950s, Back to the Future has become an iconic representation of 1980s cinema. Although its sequel’s vision of 2015 with flying nuclear-powered cars never materialized, the film remains beloved due to its clever screenplay, high-energy performances, and excellent art direction.

Back to the Future hit the big screen in 1985, a year marked by stiff competition from popular films like The Goonies, Rocky IV, Beverly Hills Cop, Police Academy 2, Rambo, and Cocoon. Effective branding was key, and the logo for Back to the Future hit all the right notes. The text style had a fittingly futuristic feel, the colors were dynamic and electrifying, and the linear gradient conveyed a sense of forward momentum, mirroring the fast-paced narrative of the action-comedy.

The logo’s design, which features tightly stacked words skewed backward and forward, brilliantly encapsulates the film’s central theme of time travel. It captures the viewer’s attention and imparts a sense of temporal distortion, as though one is being pulled back in time.

To contemporary audiences, including a movie logo among the best designs of a decade might seem strange. However, in the pre-internet era of the 1980s, when video games were still relatively niche, visual entertainment like television and movies was hugely influential. Icons of this period, like the MTV logo, Nintendo’s emblem, NBC’s Peacock, and Universal’s globe, reflect the era’s focus on home-based visual entertainment, the so-called ‘metaverse’ of the time.

In the 1980s, screens began to represent a new creative canvas, extending to logo design. The advent of screens offered more room for creativity and more opportunities for visually captivating design. It fostered greater iteration and collaboration between clients and designers or agencies. The Back to the Future logo is a standout example of this era, capturing the essence of an iconic film while also reflecting the broader design trends of its time.


CNN Logo

Established in 1980 by Ted Turner, CNN’s original logo was rendered in a straightforward monochromatic palette, which reflected the black-and-white television programming prevalent at that time.

However, as the 1980s progressed, CNN made a subtle but significant alteration to its logo to mirror the shifting trends: the introduction of color. This color was not chosen randomly; it was a specific hue of red. In color psychology, red is associated with qualities like drive, fervor, and leadership, which are significant in news reporting. This emblem change represented an attempt by CNN to project these attributes and align themselves with the energy and dynamism of the era.



ESPN’s logo, at first glance, may seem minimalist and uncomplicated. Still, the utilization of red and orange hues in its design bears significant symbolic relevance, contributing to its standing as one of the best logos of the 1980s. Red is often associated with power and passion, while orange represents excitement, triumph, and tenacity. Furthermore, it is well-established that red can speed up one’s heart rate and spur hunger. These elements, when combined, perfectly mirror the vigorous, high-stakes world of sports that ESPN represents. The strategic color choice, therefore, not only aids in making the logo instantly recognizable but also imbues it with a deeper meaning and connection to its audience, making it one of the standout designs of the 1980s.


Ghostbusters Logo

The 1980s was a decade when blockbuster movies reigned supreme. As such, their logos held immense significance, functioning not just as promotional tools but often as an integral part of the film’s narrative itself. This is evident in the case of the 1984 comedy classic, “Ghostbusters.” The film, which boasted a cast of comedic talents including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, not only turned out to be a massive hit but has also gone down in history as one of the most beloved family films.

One key element that contributed to the movie’s immense success was its distinct and memorable logo. This logo had to pull double duty, serving as a promotional emblem and the fictional team’s corporate mascot within the film’s narrative. The design excelled in this regard, adhering to a basic principle of logo design: the abstraction of a concept to its simplest form.

The Ghostbusters logo is a testament to the power of simplicity and directness in design. Its clear and literal depiction of a prohibited ghost encapsulates the movie’s theme in an instantly recognizable manner. Despite its graphic simplicity, this emblem has abundant personality, and its successful dual role within and outside the movie’s world embodies an ingenious design strategy. In today’s context, its boldness and simplicity might be considered audacious, but that’s precisely what makes it an enduring symbol, marking its place among the most iconic logos of the 1980s.


Guess Logo

Guess, a prominent clothing brand from the United States is acclaimed for its extensive range of clothes, watches, jewelry, and footwear and its iconic inverted triangle logo. The Marciano brothers were inspired to create the Guess emblem during their usual trips when they drove past a billboard of McDonald’s, which played a key role in the birth of the logo. This billboard carried a catchy phrase, “Guess what’s in our new Big Mac?”. Inspired by this everyday sight, they christened their company “Guess,” this influence seeped into creating the brand’s logo.

The Guess logo stands as a brilliant exemplification of how daily life can serve as a wellspring of creative inspiration. The inverted triangle encapsulates the brand’s name in a simple yet impactful manner. It’s an emblem that effortlessly merges simplicity with distinction, creating an instant recognition factor.

The 1980s marked a period of innovative and bold logo designs, and the Guess logo was no exception. Its minimalistic style, and compelling backstory made it a notable entrant in the list of best logos from that era. The design is imbued with mystery and intrigue, reflecting the brand’s name. That element has made it iconic and enduring in the highly competitive world of fashion.


HBO Logo

The HBO logo, synonymous with high-quality television content since its inception in 1972, has maintained a consistent brand identity with minor tweaks over the years. A major part of its appeal and effectiveness lies in its simplicity. The design team introduced an inventive feature by incorporating a small circle within the letter ‘O’, which cleverly symbolizes a camera lens – a subtle nod to the world of television and film production.

This understated yet creative design element reflects the essence of HBO’s business and helps the logo stand out, making it instantly recognizable. This thoughtful design and enduring relevance make the HBO logo one of the best from the 1980s.

In addition to its visual branding, HBO has also been instrumental in shaping the entertainment industry. Its innovative programming, such as the stand-up series “One Night Stand,” has helped propel many performers to stardom, including Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Maher, and Martin Lawrence. The logo encapsulates the brand’s identity and its significant influence on the world of entertainment.



Established in Sweden, IKEA’s logo is a remarkable example of the 1980s design style. It embodies a nostalgic ’80s flair, yet it’s so iconic that its immediate recognition remains unchanged today. The blue and yellow logo reflects the Swedish national flag, a testament to the brand’s heritage. These vibrant hues were popular in the 1980s, making the logo perfectly reflect its era.

The logo features a bold and blocky typeface that enables readability and visibility even from afar, an important aspect for a brand catering to large warehouse-style stores. This characteristic exemplifies how function meets design, making it user-friendly, a core principle of the IKEA brand.

Although the company updated its logo in 2019, the changes were subtle, focusing on minor shape and color tones adjustments. The fact that the IKEA logo has remained largely consistent since the 1980s shows the timeless quality of the original design.

The blend of cultural homage, attention to functional design, and striking visual features are likely why the IKEA badge stands out as one of the best logos from the 1980s. It effectively captures the spirit of the era while still maintaining a timeless appeal.


McDonalds Logo

The McDonald’s logo, a globally recognized symbol, traces back to the 1940s. However, the most emblematic version of the logo emerged in 1983. The logo represents not merely the brand itself but also a broader symbol of consumerism, American culture, and confident capitalism.

The 1983 iteration of the McDonald’s logo introduced a crucial element that has persisted – the distinct red square backdrop. The earlier designs featured brown and black hues and were replaced with bold and vivid colors – red, yellow, and white. These hues stand out and have remained an unwavering aspect of the logo, signifying continuity and a strong brand identity.

The McDonald’s badge is a remarkable demonstration of simplicity that effectively communicates the brand’s message. It doesn’t rely on intricate designs to convey its friendly and approachable brand persona. Instead, it uses striking colors and simple shapes to create an easily identifiable and memorable logo. This uncomplicated yet iconic design is likely a significant factor contributing to its broad appeal and enduring status, making it a standout logo from the 1980s.

Miami Vice

Miami Vice Logo

Miami Vice, an NBC sensation from the 1980s, stands out as a cultural touchstone of the era. Known for its embodiment of flashy accessories, vibrant colors, and neon aesthetics, it captivated audiences of the time.

The show’s logo is a distinct reflection of the 1980s zeitgeist. The innovative use of two different fonts, Broadway Regular for the upper text and Broadway Stencil for the lower, combined with the alternating thick and thin strokes, gives it a unique flair.

The logo’s color scheme also represents the era, strikingly contrasting vivid magenta, and vibrant aquamarine hues. This chromatic combination enhances the design, contributing to its iconic 1980s look.

The overall design mimics the appearance of a large neon sign, aligning with the show’s bold and dynamic character. With its unmistakable aesthetic, vivid colors, and distinct typography, the Miami Vice logo encapsulates the quintessence of the ’80s. It is no wonder it earned a spot amongst the top logos of the decade. Its enduring appeal lies in its ability to immediately transport viewers back to the energy and vivacity of that period.


MTV Logo

MTV, standing for Music Television, became a groundbreaking force in the 1980s by being the first to broadcast music videos non-stop. This shift transformed the music industry, as musicians suddenly needed to consider their visual representations nearly as much as their music. These music videos began evolving from straightforward band performances to narrative-driven short films, leading to legendary productions such as A-ha’s “Take On Me” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The logo of MTV, established by Manhattan Design in 1981, significantly impacted the world of branding. This design championed a playful and forward-thinking approach to logo creation, setting a standard for future brands. The MTV logo exemplifies a flexible branding model that can adapt and stay relevant across various communication channels rather than remaining static in every iteration.

The logo’s versatile design allows for countless variations in color, pattern, texture, and even symbolic representation, ensuring the brand remains as vibrant and engaging as it was during its inception. It has also inspired several modern brands like Google and the Natural History Museum, signifying the lasting impact of the innovative and adaptive logo designs initiated in the 1980s.

With its ever-changing visuals, MTV’s logo reflected the channel’s role as both a trend-chaser and trendsetter, mirroring the constantly evolving entertainment landscape. Even though its initial’ Memphis Design’ expressions may seem dated today, the concept of a flexible, variable logo remains contemporary, proving its timeless appeal. The MTV logo truly embodied the creative spirit of the 1980s, and its influence is still visible in many modern logo designs.


NBC Logo

NBC’s logo, a paragon of the 1980s, stands out for two distinctive elements that have contributed to its recognition as one of the best logos from that era.

Firstly, it is a testament to the thoughtful and creative use of negative space in logo design. Upon careful examination, the abstract peacock’s form becomes visible within the white space framed by the vibrant “feathers.” This clever implementation incorporates the network’s emblematic bird and makes the badge more dynamic and visually engaging.

The second noteworthy aspect is NBC’s bold decision to deviate from conventional logo design wisdom. Typically, designers recommend employing two to three colors to maintain simplicity and clarity. However, NBC took an unconventional approach by incorporating multiple colors. This audacious use of colors was not arbitrary but a strategic choice. In the 1980s, NBC was an industry pioneer in color broadcasting, and the multicolored logo served as a vibrant reminder of this advancement to its audience.

In breaking away from the norm and weaving in a clever use of negative space, NBC crafted a logo that visually delights and communicates its brand history and technological advancements. This unique fusion of design brilliance and storytelling is why NBC’s logo secures a spot among the best logos of the 1980s.


Nintendo Logo

Nintendo, the much-adored video game corporation, originally started as a playing card company. Despite the evolution and immense growth of the company, its brand logo has maintained a consistent visual identity since 1967, with only slight modifications made over the years.

In the 1980s, Nintendo’s logo stood out due to its bold and vibrant red color palette, a design choice reminiscent of the vivid and flashy makeup trends that were popular then. This intense color is not only eye-catching but also makes the logo instantly recognizable, an essential trait for successful branding. This era was when the video game industry was just beginning to boom, and Nintendo’s striking logo helped set the company apart in an increasingly crowded market.

2004 the company shifted from its signature red to a more muted gray tone. However, the iconic red came back in 2016, contained within an elongated, race-track-like oval in a red box. This fusion of the old and the new symbolized the company’s innovative spirit while still respecting its rich history.

The unique combination of a bold color palette and the brand’s ability to adapt while staying true to its roots earned Nintendo’s logo its place among the best logos of the 1980s. The logo exemplifies the essence of the brand and its ability to evolve, making it a timeless piece of graphic design.


Pepsi Logo

Pepsi’s history is marked by a constant tug-of-war with its main competitor, Coca-Cola. This dynamic became particularly noticeable in the 1980s when Pepsi managed to gain significant market share. One of the key strategies that enabled this growth was the ‘Pepsi Challenge,’ a blind taste test campaign that led many consumers to realize they preferred Pepsi over Coca-Cola. This crucial moment shook Coca-Cola’s unchallenged status, leading to the infamous ‘New Coke’ launch, which turned out to be a fiasco.

Meanwhile, Pepsi’s expanding self-assurance was mirrored in its corporate identity, which included a refreshed logo in 1987. The updated logo lent Pepsi a contemporary and refreshing look, supplanting a design that had been in place for over ten years. This change was not just about aesthetics; it was part of a broader strategy of constant innovation, distinguishing Pepsi from its primary competitor, Coca-Cola, known for its signature red color.

The logo redesign coincided with Pepsi’s attempt to connect with the younger generation. With its wavy lines and bright colors, the logo reflected the design language of the era and embodied a sense of fun and youthfulness. It made Pepsi a brand that resonated with the vibrant pop culture of the time, successfully aligning itself with pop culture luminaries like Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Pepsi’s emblem from the 1980s represented a key moment in the brand’s history when it managed to strengthen its position in the market and create a vibrant, youthful image that appealed to the new generation. This iconic design has since become integral to Pepsi’s brand identity, marking its significant stride in the soft drinks market.

Scandinavian Airlines

Scandinavian Airlines Logo

Scandinavian Airlines’ logo, introduced in the 1980s, is considered one of the best from that era, and it’s not hard to see why. Its vibrant color scheme, clearly derived from Scandinavian countries’ flags, perfectly encapsulated the brand’s regional pride and international aspirations.

The design is simple yet dynamic. Instead of arranging the colored bands vertically as they appear on the flags, they were designed at a slant, creating a sense of forward motion. This cleverly evokes the image of a plane in flight, hinting at the company’s core business of air travel. The thick bands of color also can be interpreted as a stylized tail of a plane, a location where flags are often displayed on aircraft.

The logo effectively communicates the company’s Nordic origins, commitment to progress, and dedication to providing high-quality air travel services. Its design is emblematic of the bold and colorful style of the 1980s. All these elements combined to create a distinctive and memorable logo that stands out as one of the best from that decade.



The Japanese gaming giant SEGA was a major contender in the gaming console battle during the 1980s. SEGA’s prominence was elevated with the introduction of its Sega Mega Drive in 1988, also known as Genesis, in the United States. This console would eventually become the platform for the globally loved character Sonic the Hedgehog, contributing significantly to SEGA’s fame.

SEGA’s logo from the 1980s is symbolic of the decade’s innovative spirit. The design projected a futuristic and progressive image, reflecting the cutting-edge nature of SEGA’s console. Its style subtly mirrored the lines of code that powered its advanced gaming systems, giving it a visually appealing look that captured the essence of the technological era.

The logo employed a typeface crafted by the renowned Japanese designer Teruoki Yagi, who was also credited with designing CNN’s logo. The accompanying typography, characterized by tightly-spaced serif fonts, was a prevalent trend among technology brands in the 1980s, notably Apple. This combination of distinct typography and modern design made SEGA’s logo an iconic emblem of 1980s gaming culture. The innovative design caught the attention and stood a testament to the brand’s pioneering role in the gaming industry.


Stüssy Logo

The Stüssy logo illustrates how subcultures emerging from urban environments began to impact logo design during the 1980s. Moving away from the traditionally dominant corporate influences, this era saw a surge of innovative and unorthodox styles stemming from street culture.

Stüssy, a fashion label established by Shawn Stüssy in the early 1980s, originated from the surfwear movement in Orange County, California. The unique logo was born from Shawn Stussy’s handwriting, as he scribbled his surname onto his handcrafted surfboards with a broad-tipped marker, borrowing the style from his uncle, Jan Stussy.

This graffiti-inspired typography quickly became associated with Stüssy’s products, adorning T-shirts, shorts, and caps sold from his car’s trunk around Laguna Beach, California. This unconventional approach proved immensely successful, as the brand was rapidly adopted and popularized by multiple subcultures, including the skateboard and hip-hop scenes, alongside the punk movement.

The Stüssy logo embodied a bold and rebellious individuality that struck a chord with these groups. Its distinct design symbolized the brand’s commitment to audacious creativity and style that dared to challenge the norm. This unconventional approach did not remain a niche for long, however. It quickly evolved from a subcultural trend to a mainstream phenomenon, paving the way for future trends in logo design.

The 1980s, marked by the rise of various subcultures with unique visual language, left a significant imprint on the design world. The vibrant neon colors characteristic of this era demonstrated a capacity for self-irony. However, by the 90s, visual design had taken a more serious, grungier turn, with tones of confidence and rebellion dominating the scene. This evolution of visual culture only underscored the influence that subcultures and brands like Stüssy had on design trends.


Swatch Logo

Swatch, the globally recognized Swiss watch manufacturer founded in 1983, has always been known for its high-quality watches with unique designs at affordable prices. Its products are now available in hundreds of stores worldwide, a testament to its broad appeal and acceptance.

Swatch’s logo, a distinct part of the brand’s visual identity, is an intriguing aspect of its enduring success. The logo has remained largely unaltered since its inception, standing as a steadfast emblem for the company throughout the decades. Despite the annual introduction of new vibrant watch designs, this continuity has allowed the logo to become deeply associated with fashionable and stylish timepieces.

The Swatch logo’s ability to stay relevant and appealing for such a long duration, regardless of shifting design trends, is a significant factor in its inclusion in the best logos of the 1980s. The consistent yet flexible branding and the yearly release of colorful and innovative watch designs exemplify the dynamic balance between stability and innovation.

United Colors of Benetton

United Colors of Benetton Logo

United Colors of Benetton, a renowned Italian fashion brand established in 1965, is well-known for its timeless logo. The logo, designed with a minimalist uppercase sans-serif font set against a vibrant green rectangular background, represents the brand’s global reach and vibrant, inclusive outlook.

This logo is an exemplary representative of the 1980s due to its sophisticated simplicity that transcends time. The visual balance between the minimalist typeface and the bold green background offers stability, elegance, and creativity that aligns well with the brand’s ethos.

Even more impressive is its timeless appeal, effortlessly carrying its relevance from the ’80s into the present day. This longevity underscores the strength of its design principles, epitomizing a forward-thinking yet timeless approach that was groundbreaking during the ’80s era of logo design.

The enduring popularity of the United Colors of Benetton logo and its powerful representation of the brand’s ethos makes it one of the best logos to have emerged from the 1980s. It encapsulates the fashion sensibilities and artistic preferences of the time while maintaining a timeless appeal that continues to resonate with consumers around the globe.


X-Men Logo

Marvel’s X-Men, a legendary name in the realm of superhero comics, marked a significant milestone in their visual identity by introducing their distinct logo in 1987. This logo has become emblematic of the group’s superhero personas, featuring a dynamic wordmark set in an electrifying palette of bright yellow and red.

The visual elements of the X-Men logo are characterized by strong straight lines and sharp angles, mirroring the mutant characters’ firm resolve and unyielding strength. The 3D-styled logo adds depth and realism to match the compelling comic book storytelling.

The vibrant combination of red and yellow expresses the power and energy inherent in the X-Men, symbolizing their commitment to justice and their readiness to combat threats. This energetic color pairing also resonated with the bold and audacious design aesthetics of the 1980s, embodying the era’s spirit.

The X-Men logo’s thoughtful design elements, paired with its vivid color scheme, effectively capture the essence of the characters and the thrilling narratives they inhabit. As a result, it has stood the test of time, securing its place among the most iconic logos to have emerged from the 1980s. The brand’s ability to balance visual appeal with symbolic depth sets it apart, making the X-Men emblem an exemplar of effective and enduring design.