USA Today recently published a great overview of the evolution of the Superman logo in an article “The S-ence of Superman.”
As a graduate of FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s Graphic Design program, I understand the importance of a successful logo design. It’s one of the most important aspects in any company’s brand and image, and one of the main areas of study that I learned.
The Superman logo is a bold, iconic, and memorable logo that almost anyone can visualize in their head. These are the attributes of a successful logo design. Although the design is memorable, it has not withstood the test of time. Over the past 75 years there have been at least 10 major revisions to the logo including changes to color, the shield, and the letter “S”.
According to USA Today, co-creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, created the very first logo design back in 1938. The original logo was a three sided shield with a blue border. The famous red “S” was a much lighter shade that resembled more of a magenta color. Just two years later the shield was changed to a five-sided design. The magenta was replaced with a deeper red and the blue border was removed completely. This was a smart decision because a two-color logo design is much easier to apply on branding elements and can easily be changed to greyscale without losing much of the impact.
Over the following decades slight changes to the “S” were made but it wasn’t until 1978 that we saw a major change to the logo as a whole. The shield was now diamond shaped with hard edges and no curves. I feel this is the strongest the logo has ever been in its history. The shape was simplistic, the “S” was legible, and the colors were bold. This new logo was used by Christopher Reeve for several Superman films in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Since then, the current logo has retained its hard diamond shape but still continues to evolve with various widths and changes to the “S.”
You can look at the various “S” icons used over time in the snapshot below to decide for yourself which logos were most effective. Check out USA Today’s full article for more details about the history of Superman’s “S” logo here.
Questions/comments? Email the editor, Mani O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org