What do MTV, YSL, McDonald’s, Yahoo, IBM, Wells Fargo and CNN all have in common? A letter based logo design. In all probability, you’ve already recalled the images of these famous brands’ logos in a matter of minutes. That’s how effective and memorable their logos are. Letter based logos can be complex or straightforward, modern or quirky, but most importantly they’re relatable and easy to remember.
There could be single, dual or multiple letter logos, but the trick lies in the way they’re planned and executed. Just remember the big M logo of McDonald’s across the street. Fascinating, isn’t it? While you can use any letter for your logo (based on your company’s name and business), today we’re about to discuss the scope and power of letter “S” logos.
The History and Symbolism of the Letter “S”
The modern alphabet with 26 letters began in the 16th century. Their evolution was influenced by the Semitic, Phoenician, Greek and Roman scripts. The early “S” dates back to 3600 years ago and appeared like a horizontal curvy “W”, representing the bow of an archer. Phoenicians made the “S” look more angular and called it shin, which meant tooth. The ancient Greeks flipped it to a vertical position and called it ‘sigma’, whereas the Romans flipped it to the way it looks today.
The letter “S” occupied the 19th position in the English alphabet, and the 15th position in the Hebrew one. Its numerical value is 200 in Cyrillic and 60 in Hebrew. Hebrews also consider “S” to be sacred because it is the initial of Sameh, God. S is written in Cyrillic as C and stands for the fading moon, whereas in Latin it represents a spiral, the double and complete helix. In Hebrew, “S” depicts an arrow that moves in a circle.
Even sacred geometry represents “S” by a circle and a cross, which depicts the destinations of some regions of Paradise in Kabbalah. For Slavs, S symbolizes supremacy, triumph and the sacrifice made for the sake of good. The letter is strongly associated with power, honor, and righteousness.
S is one of the most powerful letters of the English alphabet, the others being A, J and O. It resonates with the energy that represents some key characteristics like independence, loyalty, ambition, leadership and professionalism. Unlike many others who say that their goal is love, people who have “S” as the first letter in their name seek happiness in money and are ready to work hard towards it. They also possess a strong and decisive mind, and have the courage to call a spade a spade. They also love challenges and typically analyze all the facets of the matter before making a decision. In case of failure, they always get up and keep moving on.
Similarly, if you’re creating a business logo with the letter “S”, chances are that it’ll be innovative and you can do what others couldn’t. Even some superbrands like Sony, Samsung, Siemens, Subway, Sprite, Sap, Shell, Starbucks, Skoda, Smirnoff, Suzuki, Swatch, and Skype, have their logos with the letter “S”. Below, let’s take a closer look at some of these famous logos.
1. The Swan and Mallard
An artistic depiction of the letter “S”, The Swan and Mallard restaurant logo takes the concept of visual branding to another level. The S beautifully curves to take the shape of a swan and an ampersand. But, what else do you notice? Look closely and you’ll see a black mallard hiding in the negative space. A simple color palette of black, white and orange, gives depth and character to the logo. The design is absolutely clean and classy, giving you a hint of what you’d experience in the restaurant.
A pure depiction of class and royalty, this cleverly designed letter S logo is a brain teaser. Looking head on, this looks like a golfer who’s just taken a swing, and when you look from a different angle, it appears like an “S” and the helmet of a Spartan warrior. This dual symbolism makes this logo unique and memorable.
3. Sony Ericsson
The Sony Ericsson logo stands as one of the world’s most recognized letter S logos. Futuristic and recognizable, the space-inspired typeface of the wordmark is backed by the famous Liquid Energy symbol. The brand’s emblem is quite vibrant and fresh, with the letter S very subtly inserted in it. The green and silver colors resemble science fiction movies and high technologies.
Subway is one of the biggest restaurant chains with the largest number of franchises across the world. You are certainly familiar with their lip smacking sandwiches, but do you know the story behind their logo? Originally named as “Pete’s Super Submarines”, their first branding banner consisted of bright and vivid fonts in light blue and red, with a white background.
As its name was abridged to Subway in 1968, the logo was also revised. This time, it was an all yellow “Subway” inscription in a smooth and modern sans-serif typeface with elongated and curved “S” and “Y”.
It underwent a few more changes until the recent one that was designed in 2016. Here, the inscription is in a bold and rounded sans-serif typeface with its left half in solid yellow, and the right half in green. The legendary arrows on the ends of “S” and “Y” became a little bigger and sharper, adding some power and progressiveness to the overall image of the brand.
Founded by Lee Byung-chull in 1938, Samsung is one of the largest South Korean companies, with its main production facilities located there. In Korean, the word Samsung signifies “three stars”, and Lee chose this name with a vision for his company to become potent and eternal like the stars in the sky. The symbolic three stars remained an integral part of the brand’s logo (in various forms) until 1993 when an entirely new logo was launched. It had the brand’s name in sans serif letters inside a blue ellipse. The most noticeable part of the wordmark was the iconic “A” without the typical horizontal bar. This depicted the brand’s constant strive for innovation, comfort and convenience. In 2005, the design team finally decided to dismiss the ellipse and go only with the wordmark for most of their branding initiatives. Today, both the versions are in use. One of them is a primary logo, and the other is a secondary one.
Siemens, a leading global German conglomerate business founded in October 1847 by Werner von Siemens, has total assets of around €108.28 billion and employs over 405,000 people in 190 countries across the world. The logo underwent several changes over the years, but is still considered as one of the most iconic logos in the industry. The company’s former name was “Siemens & Halske” and the earlier versions of its logo featured an interlocking monogram including the brand’s initials “SH”.
The current wordmark of Siemens was adapted in 2001, which featured a typeface similar to fonts like Dialog Pro Extra Bold and Lucida Grande Black. There are three color options for using its logotype: soft and inviting turquoise that evokes a sense of security and calmness; light gray, which depicts confidence and gravity, and black, which is the color of confidence and power..
7. Skoda Auto
The World’s fifth oldest company in automobile manufacturing, Skoda Auto has a logo that’s as unique as its slogan – Simply Clever. The redesigned brand mark, introduced in the latter half of 2016, is part of the new Corporate Identity and shows the brand’s close association with the VW Group. The logo features a winged arrow with three feathers. While the arrow stands for speed and the wings for advancement, the circle signifies Skoda’s more than 100 years of tradition.
A Japanese technology conglomerate launched in 1946 by Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka, Sony is one of the largest global manufacturers of electronics and multimedia. Aside from its quality products and services, Sony is also known for its iconic logo. After going through numerous changes since 1946, the logo redesign of 1973 gave a new and refined look to Sony’s visual identity. The serifs on the letters are neat and straight, and the bold contours are a depiction of quality and confidence. The use of black on a white background stands for integrity and elegance.
The brand tried several times to reinvent the logo, and even organized a contest in honor of its 35th anniversary. Although it received almost 30,000 entries, none of the designs were impressive enough to replace the existing logo.
9. Sun Microsystems
Founded in 1982, Sun Microsystems is a renowned American brand dealing in computers and software design and distribution. It is one of the world’s leading agencies in innovative technologies research. The graphic emblem resembling a diamond shape, has the letters u and n placed strategically together to make up the word sun. Interestingly, the word ‘sun’ can be read from every angle. This gives the logo a very universal meaning, similar to the sun that’s present everywhere. The soothing blue color palette stands for trust and professionalism. The italicized wordmark adds further class and timelessness to the logo.
Founded in 1972 by five former IBM employees, namely Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira and Claus Wellenreuther, SAP AG is a leading global German software corporation that specializes in enterprise software for management of business operations and customer relations. The SAP logo is one of the most renowned logos in the software industry. While the original SAP logo had a traditional look and was exclusively created for printing, the current one appears more dynamic, futuristic, smarter and relatable to its global audience. It is noted for its use of bright gradients of blue color, which symbolizes power, excellence, willpower, innovation and a promising future for the company.
This unique logo, as the brand’s name suggests, represents the true mental state of a schizophrenic person. Schizophrenia is a severe long-term mental illness that may be characterized by disordered thinking, hallucinations, and fixed false beliefs. The logo when read from the left shows a sad face, and when viewed from the right, shows a happy face. This bipolar nature of the logo is synonymous with the struggle of a person suffering from schizophrenia.
S, a symbol of power, elegance, determination and decisiveness, is an apt letter to use in your company’s logo. While these were some of the most famous and established brands to use the letter “S” in their branding visuals, these aren’t the only design options. If you need more creative logo ideas for the letter “S”, get in touch with a reputable custom logo company that has experience in letter logo designs.
Business Development Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Media and Digital marketing sector, Passionate about innovation and bringing the future into new business solutions.