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The Story Behind the National Geographic Logo Design

Most of us are familiar with the National Geographic logo, whose design features a rectangular box in bright yellow. Beside it would be the text ‘National Geographic’ in its characteristic sans serif, all capital letters typeface. But what is the story behind this iconic logo? A booklet called Identify: Basic principles of identity design in the iconic trademarks of Chermayeff & Geismar talks about its very interesting history. As with many of the world’s most effective and recognizable symbols, the current logo design of National Geographic is the product of a rigorous study of their target market: “An extensive audit, combined with limited consumer research, showed that the simple yellow border logo inspired by the trademarked cover of National Geographic magazine is a strong brand identifier for National Geographic and that the color yellow itself generates relatively strong brand recognition,” the document reveals. So, in coming up with the logo, the design team at Chermayeff & Geismar made sure to leverage on what is arguably the most important component of the National Geographic brand: its identity as a magazine. Founded in 1888, the National Geographic magazine enjoys a solid reputation as a well-edited reading on geography, natural science, history, and culture across the globe. More importantly, NatGeo, as it is colloquially referred to, has become known as an excellent source of spectacular photographs. At the same time, Chermayeff & Geismar was committed to designing a logo that will also represent the brand’s many product lines, as it continues to grow as one of the world’s largest scientific and educational institutions. After all, NatGeo is first and foremost a society that is active in promoting environmental and historical conservation, as well as the appreciation of world culture and history. The result is a neat and modern, streamlined logo that can be easily used by all divisions of the National Geographic society: a simple yellow portrait frame juxtaposed “with the name “National Geographic” set in a bold new, proprietary lettering style.” The Chermayeff & Geismar artists carefully calculated the size relationship between the yellow rectangle and the text, and eliminated all other words besides National Geographic, except in the case of the National Geographic Channel. To educate its different units scattered in many countries around the world as well as its partners about the proper use of the logo, National Geographic published a comprehensive set of guidelines which explained the principles behind the updated brand identity materials. In addition, the guidelines were accompanied by a set of readily downloadable approved variations of the trademark, photography, and alphabets. Like National Geographic, your company can also have an iconic logo design, by working with our excellent team of professionals here at GreyBox Creative. GreyBox Creative is a New York-based graphic design agency that can help you create a wide range of corporate identity materials for your company, from a catchy custom logo design and innovative promotional materials, to a very navigable website. Contact us today to learn more about effective ways to grow your brand.

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