From Start-Up to Household Name, the Boba Guys' Science of Logos

From the Nike swoosh to the Chiquita banana lady, a tour of what matters in a company's logo.

Many designers cite the Nike swoosh as their favorite logotype of all time, and rightfully so. It has not changed much since its inception. The swoosh embodies the spirit of the eponymous goddess of victory who inspired the most courageous warriors at the dawn of civilization. You immediately understand what Nike stands for when you see the company’s logo. That’s hard to do.

It’s not my favorite logo, though. My heart lies with the Chiquita banana lady. Brand recognition is undeniable with the Chiquita banana—their logo of a lady wearing a fruit headdress on each and every one of the bananas they sell. I can’t think of another fruit company that markets and places such a strong emphasis on packaging. What was once a commodity has now become a household name.

Simplified logos by Antrepo.

When we were establishing our brand and our logotype, we struggled with what we had to include and what we could leave out. Start up brands tend to over-explain and over-label because designers believe education is needed to explain a new company and what sets it apart from its competitors. Other times, the logo is an afterthought; dreamt up the night before the business opens its doors for the first time, or even worse, designed by committee. This can lead to less than desirable results.

Andrew pushed for a signature color (fun fact: purple was the frontrunner for our brand color) but in the end we decided against it. It might run the risk of being a flavor of the month (no pun intended), so we desaturated. The logo was drained of all color, making it starker but keeping the playfulness that we wanted simply by choosing an aardvark to symbolize Boba Guys. The final version conveyed the brand's attempt to be both premium and inclusive, two qualities we both agreed we stood for.

There are typically two camps: those that believe the logo should never be altered and those that believe that loosening your tie a bit never hurt anybody as long as you stay true to your brand. Boba Guys would never change our logo on a whim, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t experiment, especially when it comes to merchandise or marketing. Some of the best brands employ designers in the truest sense who are not afraid to shake things up a bit. The New York Times’ “T” magazine and Carhartt’s recent batch of T-shirts come to mind.

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