How well do you know your brand symbols? Here's a list of 20 some of the most recognizable brand logos and the meaning behind their famous design.

IBM

In 1972, the company introduced this version of the logotype. Designed by Paul Rand, horizontal stripes now replaced the solid letters to suggest "speed and dynamism." In the last quarter-century, the basic design has remained constant and has become one of the most recognized logotypes in the world.

Apple

Apple's first logo, designed by Ron Wayne, depicts Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. It was then replaced by Rob Janoff's "rainbow Apple", the familiar rainbow-colored silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out of it. The coloured stripes were conceived to make the logo more accessible, and to represent the fact the Apple II could generate graphics in colour.  On August 27, 1999, Apple officially dropped the rainbow scheme and began to use monochromatic logos nearly identical in shape to the previous rainbow incarnation.

McDonalds

The most successful advertising campaign in McDonald's history was created in 2003 by Heye & Partner GmbH. 'I'm Lovin' It' launched in Munich on 2 September 2003 ('Ich liebe es'), with the English-language phase introduced to the UK, Australia and USA soon after. Today the official logo exists in a few shapes and sizes, but all feature the stripped back yellow arches accompanied by the official motto.

Pepsi

The Pepsi Globe has its origins in the 1940s, when the United States was in World War II. To show support of the war, Pepsi unveiled a new bottle cap that featured the Pepsi script surrounded by swirling red and blue colours on a white background. Since Pepsi, at the time, was recognizable with its script logo in the same manner as its main rival, Coca-Cola, the cap logo was simply meant as a show of U.S. patriotism as opposed to a marketing scheme.

In October 2008, Pepsi announced it would be redesigning its logo and re-branding many of its products by early 2009. The new imagery has started to be used. The new lower-case font used on Pepsi’s products is reminiscent of the font used in Diet Pepsi's logo from the 1960s to the mid-1980s.

VISA

The blue and gold in Visa's logo were chosen to represent the blue sky and gold-coloured hills of California, where the Bank of America was founded.

In 2005, Visa changed its logo, removing the horizontal stripes in favour of a simple white background with the name Visa in blue with an orange flick on the 'V'. The orange flick was removed in favour of the logo being a solid blue gradient in 2014. In 2015, the gold and blue stripes were restored as card branding on Visa Debit and Visa Electron, although not as the company's logotype.

Coca-Cola

In 1886 John S Pemberton finalises the formula for his new drink, and his partner, Frank M Robinson, suggests the name Coca-Cola, believing that “the two Cs would look well in advertising”. 

The company name has been written in a similar Spencerian script since 1887. While it has been tweaked since then, the changes have been very minor and the consistent imagery from generation to generation has given Coke a deserved sense of stability and tradition.

Nike

Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight founded Nike on January 25, 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). Upon changing its name to Nike, Inc. on May 30, 1971, the company adapted the Swoosh as its official logo the same year. Carolyn Davidson, a student at Portland State University, created the logo, attempting to convey motion in its design. It also symbolizes the wing of Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory, from which the company derived its current name.

The logo has undergone minor changes from its original design in 1971, today most commonly seen as a solo swoosh.  Over the years, the red and white colour palette has traditionally been used on the logo, although most recently a solid black swoosh has gained significant popularity.

Disney

Beginning with the release of The Black Cauldron in 1985, Walt Disney Pictures introduced its fantasy castle logo. The logo was created by Walt Disney Feature Animation in traditional animation and featured a white Sleeping Beauty Castle design against a blue background, with the studio's name and underscored by "When You Wish upon a Star".

This logo and variations was seen before all films until 2006, when it was updated with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Beginning with 2011, the words "Walt" and "Pictures" were dropped from the branding.

Microsoft

Microsoft launched its most well-known logo on January 5, 1987, and since then, has been cherished by many. It was dropped on August 22, 2012, but it's still used on older products and some portals. On August 23, 2012, Microsoft's most notable logo was retired and a new logo was commissioned. Although this logo is, however, not completely new, a similar one was featured in Windows 95 commercials from the mid-90s, making it more complicated as Windows 95.

Starbucks

The original Starbucks logo was the image of a “twin-tailed mermaid”, or siren. The logo was used by the original Starbucks founders to lure coffee lovers from everywhere.

Since its creation, the original Starbucks logo has undergone many changes. The logo design saw dramatic changes in the year 1987 when the company was acquired by Howard Schultz. The original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice was also changed to Starbucks Coffee. It was Schultz who got the otherwise complicated Starbucks logo cleaned up a bit and added a more corporate polished look and feel to this business logo design.

Google

The Google logo appears in numerous settings to identify the search engine company. Google has relied on several logos since its renaming (see History of Google), with the first logo created by Sergey Brin using GIMP. A revised logo debuted on September 1, 2015. The previous logo, with slight modifications between 1999 and 2013, was designed by Ruth Kedar; the wordmark was based on the Catull typeface, an old style serif typeface designed by Gustav Jaeger for the Berthold Type Foundry in 1982.

The company also includes various modifications or humorous features, such as cartoon modifications of their logo for use on holidays, birthdays of famous people, and major events, such as the Olympics. These special logos, some designed by Dennis Hwang, have become known as Google Doodles.

Adidas

The word mark that Adidas has used since 2005 goes back to the simplicity of the three stripes and is said to represent quality and leadership, and maintains flexibility for the future. Adidas is now just one company in the Adidas Group, which also includes Reebok and TaylorMade.

Nevertheless, iconic trefoil endures. It's the trefoil that inspires sneakers and Originals fanatics. Built on the foundations of the three stripes, it's everything a good sporting logo should be - understated, iconic, cool. The trefoil is the logo that helped Adidas transcend the sporting arena and permeate every corner of popular culture.

Volkswagen

Today Volkswagen’s emblem is closely associated with blue, white and silver colors. The present logo was adopted in 2000. However, upon the company’s launch, the logo used to be black. It was in 1960s that Volkswagen decided to switch from black to light blue palette in order to create a friendlier image of the brand.

The configuration of The V and W letters, which are the company’s name initials, derive from the words Volks and Wagen, literally – car of the people.

Amazon

Amazon.com features a very straightforward logo design. Since June 19, 2000, Amazon's logotype has featured a curved arrow leading from A to Z, representing that the company carries every product from A to Z, with the arrow shaped like a smile.

Toblerone

The image of a bear is hidden in the Matterhorn high mountain, symbolizing the town of the chocolate's origin. The triangular shape of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps is commonly believed to have given Theodor Tobler his inspiration for the shape of Toblerone. They're nicknamed "the city of Bears," and their coat of arms is what looks like a bear climbing upwards. Toblerone is a member of an illustrious canon of brands with hidden messages in their logos, like the arrow in the FedEx logo and the "31" in Baskin Robbins's, referring to the flavours they offer.

Cadbury

In 1905, William Cadbury commissioned the first Cadbury logo. The logo was an image of a stylised cocoa tree interwoven with the Cadbury name. Registered in 1911, it was used on presentation boxes, catalogues, tableware and promotional items, and imprinted onto the aluminium foil that was used to wrap moulded chocolate bars. Although not recognise much today, it was used consistently from 1911-1939 and again after the Second World War.

The Cadbury script logo, based on the signature of William Cadbury, appeared first on the transport fleet in 1921. It was quite fussy to start with and has been simplified over the years. It wasn’t until 1952 that it was used across major brands.

Lego

The popular children's toys Legos have a rich and storied history. These once-wooden blocks were made in the workshop of toymaker Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1932. In 1934, his company was renamed Lego from the Danish phrase ‘leg godt’, which literally means "play well". One factor that has always worked in the favour of this popular company is the distinctiveness of their logo. The bright red, yellow and white colours of the logo leap out at consumers and can easily catch the eye of a young child.

Twitter

One factor that has always worked in Twitters favor is the simplicity of their logo. The first logo of Twitter, much like their business, was incredibly simple. All it consisted of was a blue sign spelling out the company name on a white background. This simple logo was meant to convey the simplicity of the company itself. All that people could do was write 250 quick characters and, despite its simple nature, the action of “tweeting” took off.  The twitter bird was introduced in 2010. The twitter bird summed up the objectives of the company perfectly. In 2012, Twitter dropped the word from their title and focused exclusively on the bird, which was now much larder and could attract more attention.

Nestle

The original Nestlé trademark was based on his family's coat of arms, which featured a single bird sitting on a nest. This was a reference to the family name, which means ‘nest’ in German. Henri Nestlé adapted the coat of arms by adding three young birds being fed by a mother, to create a visual link between his name and his company’s infant cereal products. He began using the image as a trademark in 1868. Today, the familiar bird’s nest logo continues to be used on Nestlé products worldwide, in a modified form.

DELL

The famous global strategic branding agency Siegel+Gale created the first Dell logo in 1984. The slanted “E” symbolized Michael Dell’s wish to “turn the world on its ear”. It slowly gained popularity and eventually became one of the most memorable and iconic logos in the technology industry. Towards the end of 2010, the logo underwent a few changes.

The task was given to a branding firm named Lippincott , as they came up with an exclusive, tailor-made typeface for the company, “Museo”, with the help of Dutch type designer Jos Buivenga, and moved the letters slightly to the left on both of the “Ls”. The ‘E’ was also tilted a bit more downward. The blue ring surrounded and protected the iconic Dell logotype, giving it a graphical appearance of a globe.