Home | Learning Center

Close this search box.
FREE: Get the #1 book on the fundamentals of proper logo design and company branding, written by George Ryan, CEO of Hatchwise

Home / Resources / Logo Design Case Studies and History

History Of The Apple Logo And The Company

Some brands don’t need an introduction, and Apple is one of those brands. People all over the world can see the apple logo and know instantaneously that it goes together with the Apple brand. 

But beyond knowing that Apple is the brand that has brought you your favorite smartphone device or laptop computer, do you know much about the brand’s evolution? If not, then you will by the end of this article. 

Apple is a trendsetter, an innovator, and has one of the most recognizable logos in the world. That’s why we’ve decided to take a closer look at how this iconic brand came to be and how the brand’s iconic logo was developed. Keep reading below to find all of this out and more. 

Meet Apple

Many associate Apple with Steve Jobs, and those people wouldn’t be wrong. However, Jobs is only one of three founders. His co-founders include Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak and together the three launched Apple in 1976. 

Jobs is credited with coming up with the name of the company. He was inspired after taking a trip to an apple orchard in Oregon, during a fruit diet he was on. 

With the company’s launch, the three founders hoped to change how people view computers and they hoped to make computers more common. Wayne only lasted with the company two weeks before quitting and selling his share of the company for $800. The other two founders stayed with Apple, helping launch the brand and helping grow it to be the Apple we know and love today. 

Apple’s Evolution

While Apple has continuously released new products and evolved as a brand, below we highlight the key pivotal moments during Apple’s evolution. 

1976-1980: Apple is founded and launched

On April 1, 1976, Apple Computers, Inc. was founded by three college dropouts, Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak. Their dream for Apple was to change the way that people viewed computers. These changes included ideas around making these devices small enough for people to use in their homes or offices and making computers user-friendly. 

As the two founders got started with the company, they worked out of Steve’s garage. Their first computer, the Apple I, was released and sold without a monitor, keyboard, and casing. Following that first design, the Apple II was released and was equipped with color-display technologies. 

1980: Apple goes public

After-sales increased from $7.8 million in 1978 to $117 million in 1980, Apple went public. This growth was a sign that their idea of making computers more accessible was an idea that the public backed. 

1983: Wozniak leaves Apple

Wozniak decided to leave the company in 1983. He became disinterested in the day-to-day operations of Apple, so he decided to depart. After Wozniak left, Jobs hired John Sculley, who was positioned to be the next president of PepsiCo. 

1985: Jobs leaves Apple

After hiring Sculley, Jobs and Sculley clashed. This led to Jobs leaving Apple in 1985. After his departure, Jobs founded a new company NeXT Software and bought Pixar from George Lucas. Pixar later became a leader in computer animation and was a huge success. Some of Pixar’s movies that are still beloved today include Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., A Bug’s Life, and Finding Nemo

1990: Apple’s revenue grows

Even after Jobs left, Apple continued to grow. The reason for the growth though was due to Jobs. Before leaving, Jobs had started plans to make a deal with Adobe, the company behind the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). With this partnership, Apple and Adobe introduced desktop publishing. 

1997: Apple buys NeXT Software

After Apple’s peak in 1990, the company struggled to maintain growth. This led to Apple purchasing Jobs’ company, NeXT Software in 1997. With this purchase, Apple’s Board of Directors asked Jobs to come back on board as interim CEO. Jobs decided to call himself “iCEO” instead and he officially became the CEO in 2000. 

2000: Jobs becomes CEO

As noted above, Jobs became the CEO of Apple officially in 2000. With his leadership, changes were implemented. These included making Microsoft an ally, not an enemy, by creating a Mac version of its office software, and by introducing products like the iBook and the iPod. 

2007: The first iPhone is introduced

Apple introduced its first touch screen cellular phone, the iPhone, in 2007. This release is still one of the world’s most successful product releases and even today, there are new versions that are continuously rolled out. 

2007 – Today: Apple’s product line expands

Since these earlier product releases, Apple has expanded into other markets with its technology and devices. Apple’s product line now includes the iPad tablet, the Apple Watch, the Apple Card, Apple News, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+. 

2011 – Today: Apple’s new leadership keeps Apple’s mission alive

After founder, Steve Jobs, passed away on October 5, 2011, Apple has been focused on keeping Jobs’ legacy alive. Former COO, Tim Cook, was appointed CEO and Cook led Apple to be the first company to ever be valued at one trillion dollars in 2018 (and then led Apple to double that figure two years later). 

Roadblocks Along the Way: 

While Apple has remained relevant, the company has still had its fair share of roadblocks to navigate. For starters, Apple’s top competition is fellow tech giant, Microsoft. Microsoft computers are often cheaper, and Microsoft’s Windows software is a preferred software for many businesses. Apple has made efforts to pivot and remain competitive with this by unveiling new products and devices consistently to maintain its market share.

Another roadblock Apple has navigated is leadership changes. Sculley was not a strong CEO for the brand and spent much time and money on ideas that ultimately didn’t help Apple grow. This led Jobs to leave the company, and it took until 1997 for Jobs to return and offer his revolutionary ideas to the brand again. 

The Meaning of Apple’s Logo and Apple’s Logo History

The Apple logo was developed by graphic designer, Rob Janoff, who Steve Jobs met in 1977. Their meeting was timely, as Apple was not even a year old and was in dire need of a logo update. Before this logo update, Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne developed a temporary logo to help launch their business. This wasn’t Janoff’s first job with a corporate company, he was responsible for creating corporate logos and identities in the past, which made him a good fit for Apple. 

You’ll see as detailed below; the core part of the logo was an apple. Janoff wanted the logo to look the most realistic that it could, so he cut countless apples in half to use as a reference point to ensure his “logo apple” was realistic. 

first apple logo
Image source

1976 – 1977: The first version of the Apple logo

The first version of the logo lasted a little less than a year and was developed by Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne, two of the Apple founders. This logo was a literal representation of Isaac Newton sitting beneath a tree, reading a book, with an apple falling onto his head. Also featured on this first iteration, is a ribbon that reads the company’s name, “Apple Computer Co.” While the logo was unlike other logos at the time, it was complicated, not easily replicable, and was a piece of artwork, rather than a logo. This logo was placed on their computers that year but was not the logo that we associate with the brand today.

1977 – 1998 second apple logo
Image source

1977 – 1998: The second version of the Apple logo

After creating a logo that resembled artwork, rather than a logo, and after creating a logo that felt too old-fashioned to Jobs, the brand decided to outsource design help and enlisted designer, Rob Janoff. With this design, Janoff kept the features and symbolism of the apple but made the logo far less complicated. The result was an apple, with a bite taken from it. The bite was an intentional decision to ensure that no one would confuse the symbol for a cherry. Apple fell in love with the logo design and rolled it out as the face of their brand immediately. 

The colors that were featured on the logo were the colors of the rainbow. This was an intentional choice because Apple just launched, Apple II, which was the world’s first colored-displayed computer. This logo also appealed to a younger audience, who were likely to adopt all of Apple’s new products and technologies. 

In 1984, Apple felt that the logo had already acquired enough brand recognition and no longer needed the “Apple” company name alongside it. This was also during the same time that the Apple Macintosh computer was released. So, since 1984, Apple used the logo on its own, without the company name. 

1998 – Today: The third version of the Apple logo

The only updates to the Apple logo since 1998 have been updates related to the coloring, shading, and highlighting of the apple emblem. The brand moved away from the rainbow color palette to create a minimalist and clean design. The company moved from a solid black emblem to a monochromatic emblem, to an even more metallic emblem with added features. The shift away from the rainbow design officially happened once the iMac was released. 

This shift in the logo’s design allowed for the emblem to be engraved, or embossed, on Apple devices, unlike the rainbow design. The color of the engravement was dependent on the material and color of the device. 

The version of this simpler logo that Apple uses today is a simple black icon on a white background, which encompasses Apple’s intersection of style and technology.

Apple’s logo font:

If you look at the Apple logo today, you won’t see any font accompanying it – but that wasn’t always the case. In the first version of the logo that Jobs and Wayne created, the logo featured an elegant and classic banner that read “Apple Computer Co.” This wordmark was written in a bold San Serif, italic typeface, in capital letters. This font choice stood out but was sophisticated at the same time. 

Another font was chosen to accompany the second version of the logo, until 1984. This font was placed alongside the rainbow icon and stated the company name “Apple.” This font was a typeface that was called Motter Tektura and was designed in Austria. While it looked different than the past serif font that was used, this font was also bold and stood out. 

Apple’s logo color:


Description automatically generated
Image source

Throughout Apple’s logo evolution, the brand never was one to shy away from using color. The use of the rainbow colors for the 1977 logo helped represent knowledge, diversity, creativity, and inspiration. In 1998, the rainbow icon retired and a new logo featuring monochromatic colors was introduced. This color shift represented that the company was modern, minimalistic, simplistic, and versatile. Depending on what background was being used, the logo varied in which monochromatic shade it would be printed in. 

Apple’s logo symbols: 

The symbol found on Apple’s logo is a symbol that perfectly captures the brand’s name in symbol form – and that symbol is a bitten apple. The inspiration for apple started with founder, Steve Jobs, and graphic designer, Rob Janoff. The symbol idea first came to Jobs while he was on a fruit diet and visited an apple farm. Janoff then thought that the apple should have a “bite” taken out of it so there would be no confusion on what fruit the logo was.  

So, why an apple, and what is its symbolism of it? Well, for starters, Isaac Newton was hit on the head with an apple and came up with an idea of brilliance, signifying that some of the best ideas are thought of when someone least expects it. Secondly, apples are often a symbol of life – think of Adam and Eve talking under the apple tree and taking a bite of the forbidden fruit to gain knowledge. That goes beyond historical times though, today, apples are still considered to be a symbol of life and wellness. 

Apple Today

Almost 50 years after Apple was founded, Apple is still the face of innovation when it comes to technology. Regularly introducing new iPhone models, new streaming services (Apple TV+), computer models, and more, the brand has consistently been able to remain current and relevant to consumers. 

Most recently, Apple had a milestone calendar year in 2021, generating $378.35 billion in revenue. These earnings were up from 2020 when the company ended the year with $294.1 billion. 

Apple’s headquarters can be found in Cupertino, CA, and the company has 37 offices across the United States. Tim Cook currently operates as Apple’s CEO. He took over this role in 2011 after Steve Jobs passed away. Before serving as CEO, Tim served as COO of the company. Apple currently operates in 175 countries and regions and the brand shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. 

Lessons Learned from Apple

Apple is one of those iconic brands that everyone across the globe knows and can recognize. Their early decision to shift to a logo that was simple and modern, representing exactly what the company was focused on – developing modern technology. What Apple did though, was they created a logo that involved curiosity. In the early years, seeing an apple, made people ask questions and inquire about what the company was. This curiosity helped build brand identity and brand awareness. 

When it comes to your logo, don’t be scared to go through a major redesign early, just like Apple did. And don’t be scared to choose a logo design that also invokes curiosity to build brand awareness.