YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

The YouTube logo symbolizes growth, communication, style, and creativity. While the logo has not changed much from its inception, the present emblem appears relevant and timeless.

The YouTube logo stands as the testimony of growth and change. While the 90s was all about the dot-com bubble that gave birth to some of the most iconic companies today, it was not until YouTube showed up that everything about the internet began to change.

The internet is home to tens of thousands of media platforms that you and I use daily. From social networking sites to job portals, our life revolves pretty much around the World Wide Web.

YouTube was the first video streaming site that took the world by surprise. While other streaming platforms such as Dailymotion and Vimeo entered the streaming market, none could beat the popularity and longevity of YouTube. 

Interesting read: How to make a logo for your YouTube channel online.

How it all began

“The whole thing about these guys is they have really, really, really long trunks…” a young man nervously speaks into the camera. “And that’s pretty much all there is to say.” It has been 17 years since the video titled “Me at the zoo” was uploaded by none other than Jawed Karim – co-founder of YouTube.

Me at the zoo

YouTube was born as a result of three ex-PayPal employees using their bonuses to fund their start-up. PayPal employees received bonuses when eBay acquired PayPal. Steve Chan, Jawed Karim, and Chad Hurley used their bonuses and the knowledge they acquired working at PayPal to create one of the most popular brands in the world.

Founded on February 14, 2005, YouTube is the second most visited platform in the world today.

Fun fact: Google is the world’s most visited website. 

There are two popular stories about how the idea for the video-sharing platform was conceived. According to one story, the idea came to Karim during the Super Bowl XXXVIII show controversy, when Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breasts. Karim could not find the clip, which is how the idea of a video-sharing platform first popped into Karim’s head.

As per the second story, the idea for creating a video-sharing platform first occurred at a dinner party in Chen’s house. According to Chen and Hurley, they were finding it difficult to share the videos shot at the party, which is how the idea first came to them.

There is a considerable debate on how the idea for the video-sharing site was conceived. However, the trio’s faith in creating a solution for a serious problem remains unquestionable.

The iconic YouTube logo communicates the brand’s legacy and what it stands for to the tee. Not many logos are as relevant as the famous YouTube icon. Let us explore the YouTube logo in detail.

What started as a mere video-sharing platform almost 17 years ago has become the main platform for businesses and marketers to promote their products or services. The diversity that the platform brings is second to none. From video marketing to content creation, YouTube is the first choice for brands and influencers to promote themselves. 

Start-up founders and entrepreneurs can acquire inspiration from various YouTube channels.

The rectangular box with the play button in the middle symbolizes video-sharing and the shift of power. Well, you may ask how it portrays the shift of power. Here’s how:

The power of broadcasting lay only with big companies until YouTube surfaced. From news to your daily dose of entertainment, you had to rely only on TV broadcasters or movie theaters. With the emergence of YouTube, you did not have to rely on traditional broadcasting channels. The platform ensured you found everything you wanted anytime. The platform shifted the power from the hands of a few broadcasting companies to individuals. Not only could you see different videos, but you could even create your own video and upload it for the world to see!

The YouTube logo symbolizes a democratic platform free from the malice of a few broadcasting companies that work only for their benefit. 

The various YouTube logos over the years.
The various logos of the video-sharing platform over the years.

The video-sharing site changed its logo five times in its history, but only partially. The brand has retained its original concept and has upgraded as time went by. Let’s explore all five logos.

News: YouTube Studio gets a new icon: Twitter users go hysterical.

2005 – 2011

YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

Launched in 2005, the first YouTube emblem was a logotype. The logo was split in two. The first half of the logo was the black “You,” while the second half was the white “Tube” placed within a rectangle box. The gradient box had rounded edges, which resembled a TV. The red part of the emblem became the brand signifier of the video-sharing platform.

2011 – 2013

YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

The video-sharing platform changed its emblem partially in 2011. While most of the visible elements of the logo remained untouched, the red rectangular 3D box lost its glossiness. The new matte box appeared professional and depicted progress and power. The 2011 version of the YouTube logo was simple yet relevant. 

2013 – 2015

YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

YouTube redesigned its logo again in 2013. But much like the 2011 version, most of the design elements remained intact. The red box adopted a lighter shade, while the “Tube” part lost its shadow and outline, making the entire logo look minimalist and flat. If you want to create a great-looking minimalist logo, you can refer to the 2013 version of the YouTube emblem.

2015 – 2017

YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

Like all previous redesigns, the 2015 version of the logo focused on changing the color of the logotype. Red appeared darker again, which gave the logo a more serious look. However, the rest of the logotype remained untouched. The emblem looked exquisite, stylish, and professional. 

The right colors can make your design unique and set your brand apart from the crowd, which is why you must invest a lot of time in choosing the right colors for your logo.

2017 – Present

YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

The 2017 version of the emblem is different from all the previous logos. The red box has moved to the right of the wordmark, while the word “Tube,” which was inscribed within the box, has been replaced by a white play button. The wordmark now appears in black. The Y and T are capitalized and make the wordmark look more dynamic. The present YouTube logo is energetic, contemporary, elegant, and memorable.

YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

YouTube uses three official colors to highlight the key personalities of its brand. Red symbolizes passion, love, and excitement, while white represents purity and harmony. Black in the iconic logo represents power and sophistication.

Good read: RGB vs. CMYK: What’s the difference?

The popular video-sharing platform uses a customized sans serif typeface known as the YouTube font. The simple typeface appears perfect for the brand because of its clean feel.

What makes the YouTube logo different?

Logos that have become iconic over time have a few things in common. Apart from the various design aesthetics coming together in harmony, iconic logos have stood the test of time and remained relevant through the years. Like other iconic emblems, the YouTube logo has many great things that make it truly stunning. The following elements make the YouTube logo different:

  • Relevant
  • Memorable
  • Simple
  • Timeless 

Let us explore each one closely.


A logo is well on its way to becoming iconic if it is relevant to the market their companies target. Not only does a relevant logo communicate the key personalities of its brand in a precise manner, but it also informs the audience about what they can expect from the brand. The present YouTube logo clearly communicates the brand’s personality. When a user first sees the YouTube emblem, he knows that the play button stands for video!

Marketers and designers achieve relevance by using a mix of the right colors, fonts, and symbols. The red rectangular box with the white play button makes the YouTube logo unique and relevant.

The iconic YouTube symbol that clearly communicates its brand personality.


A memorable logo is one that is unique, attractive, and generates the interest of the audience in the brand it represents. The fundamental quality of a memorable logo is that it is easily retainable.

The modern world is defined by speed and innumerable choices a person has. For a brand to stay ahead, it must create the various elements of its visual identity in a way that grabs the attention of its audience in a matter of a few seconds. The YouTube logo grabs the attention of the user and remains etched in the memory for a long time.

A logo that is easy to remember and has the ability to create an impact is considered an extremely valuable asset of a brand. Such logos stick in the audience’s mind forever.


Be it music or painting or creating content and design, it pays to be simple. A simple design free of clutter can easily connect to the audience. Some of the most iconic logos, such as Nike and Chanel, are unimaginably simple. The current YouTube logo is uncomplicated and free of extra design elements: traits that make a logo iconic.

According to multiple studies, the brain simplifies complex designs to retain them. Based on the study, you can conclude that creating uncomplicated designs is the best way to ensure that you stand out in a crowd. Simple designs are tailor-made to be retainable by the brain, as it were. The iconic YouTube logo is simple and impactful at the same time.


Another element that makes the YouTube logo different from its peers is its timelessness. While there are no fixed rules on creating a timeless logo, following certain guidelines can help you. One mistake that designers or brand owners make is to follow trends. Yes, using trends can be tempting, but think about this for a moment. Will you change your logo once the current trend fades? I am sure your answer is a resounding NO! Unless extremely relevant, you should avoid following the latest fads.

The YouTube logo does not follow the current trends instead, the emblem focuses on highlighting the key characteristics of the brand. As a designer, you can learn a lot from the YouTube logo.

Fun facts about YouTube

  • YouTube has a free-to-use production space in Los Angeles for users with a minimum of 1000 subscribers.
  • YouTube plays a prank every year on April Fool’s Day.
  • YouTubers watch more than 4 billion videos every day.
  • The most popular video tutorial is “how to kiss.”
  • The most popular searched topic on the video-sharing platform is music.
  • In 2007, British Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first world leader to create a YouTube channel.

Bonus: How YouTube reshaped the world

After being founded by three unassuming young men in 2005, YouTube has grown to become a key player in the digital space. The platform has become so big that it has not only influenced but reshaped our world in so many ways. YouTube has changed our world in the following ways:


The video-sharing platform changed the lives of many professional and amateur actors, comedians, musicians, animators, designers, and filmmakers. The platform paved the path for all kinds of artists to showcase their talents and earn a living simply out of creating videos on YouTube.

Apart from creating videos, Artists on YouTube make attractive logos to set themselves apart from their peers.


From TED Talks to professors of various American universities speaking about specialized subjects, you can find everything you need on the video-sharing platform. And the best part of it all, it’s free! You don’t even have to send your kids for evening classes because YouTube has thousands of educational videos designed for kids of every age.


From Syrian rebels using the platform to inform about their uprising to a Russian rock band using the video-sharing site to stage their protest against Putin, YouTube has been a popular space for people to show their disapproval against their governments. The platform has made it easy for people from various backgrounds to express their political views.


YouTube is at the heart of the digital marketing space. Unless a company creates compelling marketing strategies with YouTube in mind, the chances of the brand succeeding remain slim. From FMCG to automobile industry to various online marketplace, different sectors rely on the video-sharing site to promote their brands and products.


According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center and published on the Search Engine Journal website, 26 percent of adults in America searched YouTube for news. 59 percent of the people who got their news from the video-sharing platform thought it was an important source. An overwhelming 13 percent believed that it was the most important way to get their daily fix of news.

A graph depicting the importance of YouTube as a news distributing platform in America.

Rise of the influencer

While YouTube changed how various industries functioned, it also gave rise to new trends such as creators and influencers. Influencers are YouTube users with hundreds of thousands of followers who can influence how people view various subjects. Brands use influencer marketing to promote their brands or products on various social networking sites.


From helping businesses evolve to providing a platform to artists and creators, YouTube has changed the world in many different ways. And the YouTube logo symbolizes all that the video-sharing platform has dared to reshape! So, if you have not created your YouTube channel, it’s high time you do. And who knows, you might be the next Justin Bieber or Alessia Cara!

Businesses accross the world have consulted DesignBro to build their brand with logo, website, packaging design and much more.

We can help you too!

YouTube Logo: History, Meaning And Evolution

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