A face with no name.

One request I get a lot, especially from startups, is to create a logo for them that is powerful enough to stand on it’s own without a word mark. Somehow, spelling out the name of the company next to the mark feels passé these days. At least in terms of aspirational corporate culture or design aesthetic, these startups tend to compare themselves to Apple a heck of a lot, definitely more than any other single company. So naturally, they want the logo to fit the bill.

But here’s the thing, Apple was incorporated nearly 40 years ago. While their rise to dominance has been admittedly explosive compared to “old school” companies like GE or Chevron, it’s still a decades-long process.

The first Apple logo, designed by co-founder Ronald Wayne.

Over the course of those decades, we all know their logo has not always been the minimal flat gray mark that you see now. In fact, their very first logo (which only lasted a few months) was a woodcut illustration featuring Isaac Newton sitting under the apple tree. It was not until around the time of the “Think Different” campaign that Apple began customarily leaving their name off their logo.

Apple has been through multiple refinements of their logo with their name intact. So too, has just about every other brand today that has the privilege of leaving it off. This is not due to some changing trend in logo design, but the mere necessity to be recognized. Conversely, as the company grows over time, the requirements for recognition shrink.

So, generally speaking, here’s what I believe: You do not earn the right to take your name off your logo until you’re a globally recognized leader in your market.

You are not Apple, Starbucks, or Nike. Not yet, anyway. I hope I’m the lucky one that gets to simplify your logo when you are. But until then, remember that people don’t know who you are yet. When you meet a new person, you say, “Hello, my name is so-and-so.” You don’t just shake their hand and point to your face. Until your brand has met everyone it’s proverbially going to meet, I suggest that the name stays on the logo.


Dragulescu.studio is a husband & wife design consultancy based in the valley outskirts of Los Angeles, California. If you’re ready to put a face to your name, consider hiring us to do it.