Samsung's logo: Is it less magnetic than Apple's and should it be replaced?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Samsung's logo: Is it less magnetic than Apple's and should it be replaced?
Most marketing experts seem to agree that a brand's logo evokes a set of feelings and values. For one, your mind will always associate a product with the logo it features - it's inevitable. Big corporations and smaller entrepreneurs are aware of that. Therefore, choosing a brand logo has turned into a mission of finding the right combination of words, shapes, and imagery, to convey a set of values, which the company seeks to achieve, and the user wants to see.

Usually, to determine whether a product is "good enough", people have to... use it. However, nowadays, the internet enables you to make and share reviews of anything from smartphones to toys. However, if the logo or overall design elements of a product look rough or unpolished, some might be put off. You wouldn't spend much money on an unbranded, makeshift phone, would you?

The logo is also one of the first things that gives you reassurance to purchase new products from a familiar brand, whether you’ve had first-hand experience with it, or not.

Samsung: The first logo and the company's humble beginnings 

Speaking of Samsung, it's about time we address today’s topic: Does the South Korean company need a new logo? However, before that, let's talk about Samsung. Yes, the name. In Korean, Sam-sung means "three stars" . This probably explains why the company's flagship lineup carries the "Galaxy" spirit.

This also partly explains the company's first logo. If you think it looks like a sticker on your favourite Korean snack, congratulations! You nailed it! Samsung's first logo appeared on one of the company's very first products - noodle packages. No, that's not a joke.

This is a tale for a different article, but in a nutshell: Lee Byung-chul, Samsung's chairman and entrepreneurial mastermind, started off by making and selling rice, dried fish, alcohol, and other products. This explains why except for three stars, Samsung’s original logo also displays wheat and three stripes, which are meant to be… rice noodles.

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Samsung's founder is one of South Korea's most successful businessmen (ever). You could say Lee Byung-chul moved with the times and was extremely good at recognizing trends. This explains why at one point Samsung was a trucking business for transporting goods. Then the company went into insurance, real estate, and about a million other industries.

1969-1979 Three stars and the first "Samsung" lettermark

As you can imagine, Samsung's logo changed accordingly. The first logo lasted from 1938 to 1969 when a more streamlined one replaced it. That's the first time the name "Samsung" came forward. Notably, it was written in English, which clearly meant the company meant not just "business", but "international business”.

This one lasted for about ten years when Byung-chul decided the logo was obsolete and asked for a new one to be created. Now, we had three hexagons with three stars inside them. It's believed that the figures were red because that's when Samsung released its first colored TVs, which, as you can imagine, was a big deal at the time.

What's interesting for the 1979-1993 period is that Samsung effectively had three active logos - one contained just the symbols, and the other two included the "Samsung" name with two different fonts.

1993-2005 Blue oval

It was 1993 when Samsung started to gain popularity abroad thanks to electronics - TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, etc. That's when the logo changed to a blue oval, representing the universe. The name "Samsung" was centred inside the oval. It's safe to assume that this is Samsung's most recognizable or so to say, most "iconic" logo to this day.

I tricked you… ?

You know how Apple's apple is bitten into? Well, Samsung also has something that characterises its logo. Now, go back and take another look at the image above. Did you notice anything strange? If you didn't, look at the letter "A". It's supposed to lack any serifs.

The goal of this exercise was to check what happens when I show you an iconic, but slightly altered company logo. Did you immediately recognize something was off? If you did, this tiny detail has done its job, and Samsung is an easily recognizable brand or at least it has an easily recognizable logo.

Why would Samsung change its logo?

Enough games.

Back to the present, with Samsung's current logo, which is practically the 1993 one, but inverted - now the text is blue (#034EA2), and the oval is gone. Simply… Samsung. No oval (still used within Samsung's subsidiaries) and still no horizontal stroke on the "A".

Cool. Great. Wait… If it already makes Samsung a recognizable brand, why in the world would anyone want to change Samsung's logo?! First of all, I don't (not that I can). But also... why not? Let me tell you why I think it wouldn't be such an outlandish idea.

And for that, we are heading to Cupertino. Of course… You knew it was coming. If I asked you to name the five most iconic logos you could think of, I bet Apple's would be somewhere in there. If I get more specific and ask for the top tech company logos, it might even come first.

Kids, is Samsung... cool enough?

Apple is the Nike of tech. You're never sure if people buy the product for the quality (which is there) or the flexing. I'm sure both are true to a certain extent. I always feel basic when trying on a pair of Nike shoes and when I pull out my iPhone in public. Is that a bad thing? Not really. What's more important is when the brand gives me a sense of reassurance. I know the trainers won't fall apart in no time, and I know the iPhone won't bend if I accidentally sit on it. Not anymore.

However, it also happens that a brand and logo like Apple, Nike, Air Jordan, NASA, etc., also gives you a “cool factor”. The Apple logo has managed to not only earn people's trust in the brand but also to become a social status symbol and sometimes even an emblem that brings people together, and makes them feel included.

The bitten apple feels so natural and recognizable at this point that it almost blends with its surroundings. Take Starbucks, for example. There's always someone in Starbucks who'll have their MacBook out, doing some "important work", because "world-changing" work happens in cafes!

Jokes aside, Apple is somehow associated with:

  • Young university students (if you can afford it)
  • Young adults with a 9-5 job
  • Middle-aged businessmen and businesswomen (with the Mac and Apple Watch)
  • Your grandma (through her iPad)

And somehow, the Apple product (and, respectively logo), doesn't seem to appear "out of place" in any of these scenarios. Sure, you have an iPhone, sure your friend uses a Mac for work, and of course, your gran might have an iPad (Christmas present ideas!), so she can see you on FaceTime.

While most of this can be attributed to Apple's targeted marketing and product portfolio, the change wouldn't have been possible if the company had stuck to the original Apple logo, which was literally… a drawing . So difficult to print, draw, and recognize, it simply had to be changed. It also would've been difficult to become popular amongst the kids if your logo had Isaac Newton on it. Science is cool. Don't come for me in the comments.

Did you know: Apple's apple is bitten off because Rob Janoff (the designer) didn't want it to be confused for a cherry.

What would Samsung's new logo look like?

So, if (if!) Samsung was to get a new logo - perhaps just for its smartphones, what would it be? It's not hard to figure out the theme. It has to be cosmic, right?

One option is to go down the NASA route and feature an astronaut because astronauts look... cool. Aside from that, they symbolize reaching beyond the limits of the ordinary, which is a good motto to live by if you're a tech company.

Another option is… robots. I stole Daft Punk's logo just to give you an example. Perhaps Samsung should buy the rights to it, since the group is now retired? Maybe not. Or why not have a simple star, like Apple has an apple?

As you can tell, I'm not a graphic designer or a marketing expert, but I know that Samsung’s already a recognizable name. Perhaps the company should let their products speak for themselves, and reinvent its emblem to keep up with what's considered "cool" today?

Also, I simply think lettermark logos are slowly becoming obsolete, but more importantly, they don’t say much about what the brand is about (not that Apple’s does). But take Twitter, for instance - the Twitter bird is supposed to be a symbol of "freedom" and "endless possibilities"… right?!

Ultimately: Should the Galaxy smartphone lineup get its own, new logo?

While the current Samsung logo might give you reassurance when buying a refrigerator, I don’t think it has the “cool factor” that, for example, the Apple, or the Air Jordan ones have. Food for thought.

Also, as a byproduct of upgrading its logo, Samsung would avoid being the target of Google’s snappy marketing campaigns, calling out smartphone companies (LG, Samsung) that also happen to make appliances with a shared logo.

A logo communicates ownership but also gives you a sense of brand values and quality. However, as it turns out, nowadays, your marketing and logo also need to be "cool" - whatever that's supposed to mean.

So, what do you think? Perhaps the Galaxy division should go solo and have its own logo? Perhaps the current one is just fine, and the association with refrigerators and microwaves doesn't bother anyone?

Comment below with your point of view on the topic!

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