Disney Logo Walt Disney, the man behind the logo. Not. Less is more when it comes to memorable brandmarks. Think Nike for instance – a simple swoosh that is instantly recognisable across the globe. But of course the Nike logo never began life like that….
Walt Disney, the man behind the logo. Not.
Less is more when it comes to memorable brandmarks. Think Nike for instance – a simple swoosh that is instantly recognisable across the globe. But of course the Nike logo never began life like that. Designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971, it carried both the brand name and trademark ‘Just Do It’ until 1988. And it only recently became the solitary swoosh. Yet less is more needn’t apply to all brilliant brandmarks.
Disney’s logo is the perfect example. Almost in keeping with the advancement of graphics and animation, the Walt Disney Pictures brandmark has become ever-more intricate and detailed over the years. It even features subtle, and not so subtle changes from movie to movie – in fact, there are countless versions, but for this article, we’ll take a look at the generic variants that have been created over time.
The Walt Disney Pictures logo began as a simple signature. It is not, however, as many assume, based on the handwriting of Walt Disney (1901-1966). It is actually a stylised version of a ‘Walt Disney’ signature that Hank Porter created. Mr Porter worked in the promotions department at the Disney Studios and was one of the few people authorised to sign Walt’s name. In fact, Walt rarely used his own signature for company purposes.
Walt never drew Mickey Mouse much either. He never even drew a single comic strip with him. But that’s another story. Back to the logo. The one thing that hasn’t changed in its lifetime is the capitalisation of the words WALT DiSNEY; with the ‘i’ always retaining its hollow stylised dot (as if it were a capitalised lower case). The original typeface was simply named ‘Walt Disney Script’. And it was recreated in 2000 by designer Justin Callaghan, and renamed ‘Waltograph’.
Waltograph is a free to download and use font. Many Disney fans love it as much as the original, and can’t tell the difference anyway. But there are always those diehard designers and typographers out there who aren’t big fans of an over-stylised typeface – and this is one; with many even comparing its floweriness to the likes of ‘Comic Sans’. Cruel, but somewhat true. Sadder still, for those lovers of the logo and now being told it wasn’t even Walt’s – this may also lose a true Disney fan or two (at least those fans reading this).
Even more unbelievable – sorry to shake any pixie dust from your Disney-magic dreams – is that the official ‘Walt Disney Pictures’ logo wasn’t created until around 20 years after Walt passed away. And it wasn’t until 1985 that the design featured the Sleeping Beauty Cinderella Castle, which was to become synonymous with the Walt Disney Pictures brandmark – albeit with a different coloured castle and background.
The 1985 logo lasted for five years – it featured a dark purple/blue background with white text and a stylised, segmented castle which comprises a white/purple gradient featuring six flags. Also: ‘The Disney logo was in 2-dimensional graphic, and a white line would form the castle, then the emblem fonts and later, a curved line behind the iconic image reminiscent of Disney Theme parks.’ Inkbotdesign.com
Now things start to get a bit tricky here but I’ll try and keep it as straightforward as possible. From 1990 to 2006 the logo’s background is light blue. The castle is an even lighter blue. And the white semi-circle line enveloping the castle (which previously cut through the ‘W’) now stops at the tip of the ‘W’ – this addition, however, certainly neatens the image up. And the logo is starting to look more like the one we see today.
So here’s the tricky bit. Yes this overall image stays generically the same until 2006. But in 1995, a CGI-customised version was introduced for Pixar movies and appeared in every Pixar animated film from Toy Story (1995) to Ratatouille in 2007 (with the exception of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins (2000) which uses the 1995 logo).
Right, back to that generic 1995 logo – it was used until 2006. This was the year Disney were reported to have bought Pixar for around $7.5billion – the acquisition was completed 25 January 2006. The collaboration of studios meant a brand new brandmark. Well, not totally, its essence (the castle and placement of text etc.) would remain until the present day. The result, in keeping with the times, was a 3D version of the previous one.
‘In the new look, there is a zoom out from the sleeping beauty (castle) with flags also moving. It finally reveals the writings ‘Walt Disney Pictures,’ after which a star appears to draw a line stretching at the back of the castle. There have been modifications to the latest design to cope with the most recent production technologies; Computer Generated Imagery Animation (CGI). The new look logo is revealed from the clouds to fireworks, and finally the castle and writings.’ Inkbotdesign.com
That brings us to the logo that Disney fans the world over know and love today. It’s bright, happy, colourful and welcoming. It’s magical. The latest technological advances have really brought it to life with a whole new level of detail. It perfectly epitomises the style of movies Disney/Pixar produce. And rightfully so, the now combined studio remains the king of animation companies.
The logo has come a long way since Hank Porter’s initial signature. Yet, to me at least, there’s something that’s still so aesthetically pleasing about the simplicity of the lone signature. Anyway, it goes without saying that the current logo is one of the world’s most recognised, renowned and loved. Its sheer detail reflects our modern culture of high definition animation and ever-advancing CGI. Plus the logo is now often parodied – when the company bought Star Wars it depicted Mickey Mouse wearing a Darth Vadar helmet.
‘Nobody knows what the future holds, but Disney’s logo is part of our history and will remain a symbol of captivating stories and animation magic for a long time.’ Turbologo.com
Well, I don’t know about you, but writing this has put me in the mood for a Disney movie. But which one? There are more than 150 to choose from. Yup, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY+ movies. Wow, now that truly is magical.