L’Oréal Logo: Meaning, History & Evolution

by Mike Jansen

L’Oréal, the undisputed leader of the beauty industry, has been setting high standards with its branding, marketing, packaging design, and above all, products. L’Oréal has made it this far not only because of good marketing and branding but because of their superior quality products.

While it is true that the beauty industry, by far, is one of the most profitable industries, holding on to the number 1 spot consistently for years is truly an achievement.

The visual identity of a brand can help a company stand apart from the crowd; however, once visibility is achieved, a brand must maintain itself with quality products and services and a proper business model.

In an interview, published on Capitalmind, Jean Paul Agon, Chairman of L’Oréal, revealed about the beauty brand’s success. He said:

“Our model is, and has been for 50 years, to buy a brand at an early stage because we think it can become a globally successful player. For example, we bought Kiehl’s in 2000, when the business was generating $ 20 million annually. It was a single store in New York City and had a few counters at Saks (department store). Then, for 20 years, we built the business and now it is a $ 1.37 billion business. The way we grow is exactly this combination of buy-and-grow – not buy or grow. And that’s what we do every year. Once the brands have been acquired, they are brands that we build.”

L’Oréal: A Brief History

Founded in 1909 by Eugene Schueller, L’Oréal is headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France. The largest cosmetics company in the world specializes in skincare, hair color, hair care, sun protection and make-up.

Eugene Paul Louis Schueller was a young chemist when he developed a hair dye called Oréale. The young chemist manufactured and sold Oréale to Paris-based hairdressers. Schueller tested success very quickly; Oréale became the talk of the town. The success of his product led him to form his own company. In 1909, Eugène registered his company; la Société Française de Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux. The company was later renamed L’Oréal. 

L’Oréal Logo: Meaning

The L’Oréal logo is not a symbol but a verbal sign. The company name and the visual identity were inspired by Oréale: the first product to be manufactured by the company’s founder. A mix of upper and lower case letters, while maintaining the grammatical rules, is what makes the wordmark interesting.

L’Oréal Logo: Meaning, History & Evolution

In 1971, IlonSpecht, a 23-year-old copywriter, along with McCann Erickson worked out the famous “Because I am worth it” slogan.  The slogan was so revolutionary that it drove L’Oréal’s sales up. In 2021, L’Oréal celebrated the slogan’s 50th anniversary. The official L’Oréal website mentioned:

“When we say, ‘we’re worth it,’ it’s not a tagline, it’s a brand mission. Taking your beauty into your own hands is empowering. Believing in your own beauty is something no one else can control. That is your power. L’Oréal Paris is working towards the day when you hear, ‘we are worth it,’ and women everywhere will reply: ‘we never doubted it for a moment.’”

L’Oréal Logo: Evolution

A logo is an extension of a brand. It not only attracts consumers but also provides information about what the brand focuses on in a matter of a few seconds. Brands usually redesign their logos to keep up with the changing times. The L’Oréal logo changed its visual identity only twice in its 122-year history. Let take a quick look:

1909 – 1962

L’Oréal Logo: Meaning, History & Evolution
L’Oréal Logo: 1909 – 1962

The first logo of the beauty giant did not look anything like it does today. The word L’Oréal is placed within an ellipse and evenly distributed. The beige lettering follows the color of foundation or make-up powder. The letter “L” looks hidden in the ellipse, which indicates that the brand tried to highlight the founder’s first product, Oréale, through the logo.

1962 – Present

L’Oréal Logo: Meaning, History & Evolution
L’Oréal Logo: 1962 – Present

The present visual identity of L’Oréal is easily recognizable throughout the world.  The logo is simple, minimal, well-balanced and elegant. The black and white color scheme symbolizes professionalism, elegance, power, purity and cleanliness.

L’Oréal Logo: Color Palette

The L’Oréal logo is executed in a black and white color palette, perfect for the beauty giant. Additionally, the L’Oréal emblem uses a golden color palette with a 3D effect.

Here is great video by L’Oréal on women empowerment:

L’Oréal Logo: Font

Initially, the cosmetic giant used a hand-drawn font that consisted of letters of various sizes to fit the spacing within the ellipse. Today, the hand-written font has been replaced with a slick sans serif typeface. The modern wordmark is among the best in the world.

L’Oréal Logo Evaluation

Relevant

Relevance is the first must-have quality of a great logo. A relevant logo clearly communicates the brand story and personality. What use is it to have a great-looking logo but fails to be relevant? Such logos fail to set a brand apart from the crowd.

Designers use a combination of colors, fonts and symbols to create relevance. For example, a company that makes children’s products must use bright colors to communicate energy, excitement and fun.

The L’Oréal logo is a great example of a relevant logo. It is simple and relevant. The logo has been with the company since 1962 and has become a symbol synonymous with beauty and style.

Simple

The modern world is defined by speed. Fast food, fast cars and fast communication are what define the world today. So, if a brand has to set itself apart from the crowd, it must do so within a few seconds because speed is causing the attention span to decrease. A simple design which can easily be retained by the brain can achieve what intricate designs fail to achieve.

A simple logo focuses on communicating the most important aspects of a brand’s personality. The L’Oréal logo is as simple as it gets; the wordmark reflects the brand’s character without creating a fuss. The wordmark, together with the ‘because you’re worth it’ slogan, is one of the most powerful visual identities in the world.

Memorable

The goal of a logo is to create a connection between the brand and the consumers. An effective logo creates that connection the first time a consumer takes a look at it. Again, it all depends on how easily the mind can retain the design. Over-the-top designs with too many complicated symbols makes a logo appear dull and unattractive. A logo must be simple, uncomplicated and clutter-free for it to create that connection between the brand and the consumers.  

The L’Oréal logo is truly remarkable because it creates that connection without putting much effort. The wordmark is a perfect example of simplicity in logo design.

Timeless

A timeless logo is the one that remains relevant and trendy no matter when it is used. If your old logo appears to be trendy and gets people’s attention just as easily as when it was created, then you truly have a timeless work of art in your hands. So, how does a logo become timeless? First, let me answer by saying what it does not focus on! A timeless logo never focuses on quantity. Take a look at some of the iconic logos, from Coca-Cola to Gucci; their logos are the simplest in the world. Second, they always focus on quality which means doing away with all the extras that clutter the existing design!

The L’Oréal logo does not scream for attention. It is easy on the eyes and has remained trendy since 1962.

The Verdict

The L’Oréal logo tops all four design criteria. Relevant, simple, memorable, and timeless, the L’Oraéal logo is here to stay.

L’Oréal Controversies

Amber Heard, one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, is also among L’Oréal’s Global Ambassadors. Heard is among a team that includes big names such as Elle Fanning, Kate Winslet and Jane Fonda.

 In 2020, Heard was accused of hitting her ex-husband, Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp. L’Oréal continues to include Heard as a part of the exclusive global team, even though petitions were signed for her immediate removal from the company.

Another controversy that has been doing the rounds for decades is about the company founder Eugene Schueller. The founder of the beauty brand was allegedly a Nazi sympathizer. Lately, L’Oréal has revealed about Schueller being an anti-Semitic fascist. He was also a part of the La Cagoule, a violent pro-fascist establishment.

Well, keeping all the controversies aside, L’Oréal has produced some of the best beauty products since its inception. The beauty brand continues to surprise consumers with its groundbreaking inventions.  Episkin, a reconstructed skin model which works as an alternative to animal testing, is the latest from the beauty giant.

Conclusion

The visual identity of a brand speaks volumes about the company it represents; therefore, it is imperative that businesses put their best foot forward while devising the logo. There is a lot that designers and brands can learn from the iconic L’Oréal logo.

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