Logos are ubiquitous, so we tend to take them for granted. Paying attention to the history of the word helps us stop doing this. [click to enlarge the images]
The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the first appearance of the word ‘logo’ was in 1937. ‘Logogram’, from which it is an abbreviation, first appeared in 1840. A logogram is simply ‘a sign or character representing a word’.
So why all the fuss, now?
Logos (or ‘logograms’) became important only with the ascendancy of branding, beginning in the 1980s. The logo became a brand-image. It is the equivalent of the branding iron, used to burn a mark of ownership in the hide of a steer. Now it is we who are branded. We may purchase them, but don’t brands effectively own us?