Iconic organizations seem to have an easily identifiable logo. A great logo is an important, if subtle, ingredient to becoming an iconic organization. The Walt Disney Company is no different. Today, Disney is easily one of the most recognizable companies in the world and the Disney logo is an undeniable part of its success. Of course, it helps when your founder and original logo creator is one of the best illustrators of all time.
Though the company dates back to the 1920s, it may surprise people that many of the current elements of the logo have much more recent origins. Even the famous Walt Disney “signature” has a past that’s somewhat shrouded in mystery. Like any nearly 100-year-old company, Disney has tweaked a few things over the years to stay on top, and their logo has seen a few changes.
Let’s a take a look.
Walt Disney, the Man
Walter Elias “Walt” Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in Hermosa, Illinois. He founded Walt Disney Productions along with his brother Roy. The successful animator won 22 Academy Awards during his lifetime and founded the famous theme parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
One of five children, he worked hard from a young age to help support his family. Never a good student in the traditional sense, Walt grew up daydreamer, getting his early inspirations from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. As a teenager, he began to draw and sold his work in his local neighborhood. He also joined the Red Cross and drove an ambulance for a year in Paris during World War I.
In 1919, he had a short stint as a newspaper artist before embarking on his well-known career as an animator, entrepreneur, and successful businessman. At the end of 1937, Disney’s first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, had its premiere. It made a staggering $1.5 million during the Great Depression and won eight Oscars. Over the next few years, Walt Disney Studios made a series of animated films including Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi,resulting in enormous business success.
In the mid-1950s, Disneyland was opened in California. It was both an entertainment and financial success for Walt and the Disney company. Plans were made to outdo Disneyland by creating an even larger spectacle. Walt was involved in the planning and property purchase for what would become Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida when he passed away of lung cancer at the end of 1966. He was 65 years old.
About the Walt Disney Brand
Founded in 1923, Disney is now a household name. It took a few early failures for Walt Disney to find his niche in the motion picture business, but a now-famous mouse launched him and his company on the path to success and worldwide recognition. From humble beginnings to today’s multi-billion dollar enterprise, Disney, as well as today’s company executives, grew and evolved their brand and logo in an effort to deliver on Walt’s original idea.
From the beginnings of the company, Walt’s desire was to bring happiness to people through magical experiences, “to make magical experiences come alive.” Today, remaining relevant to its guests by providing a consistent brand experience is what drives the company. Developing the Disney logo and keeping it fresh over the years has always been part of the equation. Obviously, it knows what it’s doing since Disney has recently been named by Brand Finance as the world’s most powerful brand.
With successful movie and television ventures that generate billions of dollars in advertising and merchandise revenue, not to mention wildly popular theme parks, Disney’s future looks as magical as its past.
Famous Walt Disney Quotes
It’s not surprising that some things that Walt Disney said over the course of his life have become memorable quotes that still resonate with everyone from young children to budding entrepreneurs. Here is some great advice from the quintessential showman and successful businessman:
- “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
- “I believe in being an innovator.”
- “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”
- “We allow no geniuses around our studio.”
- “We believed in our idea, a family park where parents and children could have fun together.”
- “I never called my work an ‘art’. It’s part of show business, the business of building entertainment.”
History of the Disney Logo
Making his public debut in the cartoon short, “Steamboat Willie,” Mickey Mouse was the central character that set Walt Disney on the path to success. Not surprisingly, he played a key role in early Disney logos that featured his image along with an early version of Walt’s famous signature and the phrase “animation studios”. This logo and versions of it were used in cartoon shorts after Mickey gained popularity.
When the company began to make feature-length movies, the original Disney logo included a profile of Mickey Mouse that was animated – changing colors and revolving on screen. It was a way of showing off the technological advancements Walt and company were making at that time. As time went on, full-length movies and television ventures featured similar logos to the early versions with tweaks made depending on the medium.
Though Mickey Mouse remained a central figure in the company’s success, perhaps surprisingly, he began to disappear from the Disney logo and Cinderella’s castle began to make its iconic appearance. The castle and shooting star was a regular staple of Disney television specials loved by children and adults.
Evolution of the Disney Logo
With the release of 1985’s, The Black Cauldron, the “modern” logo many identify with made its initial appearance. It included a silhouette of Cinderella’s castle (based on the Disneyland version) along with the script in various shades of blue and white. It would remain the logo for all Disney movies made, with little change, for the next 10 years.
Beginning with 1995’s Toy Story, the 1985 logo was swapped out for one that was more dynamic and befitting to the film it introduced. This new logo featured a computer-animated castle and colors other than the traditional light blue and white combination. Other Disney movies got their own unique logo animation, with the original lined castle and “Walt Disney Pictures” line being used on all movies for standardization.
With the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006, a new “modern” logo appeared. Lasting a full 25 seconds, it was a computer-generated animation in which the camera pans backward over a dynamic kingdom-scape culminating in a “fly-over” of Cinderella’s castle. It ends by revealing the latest version of the iconic logo.
Since 2006, all movie intros have been a version of this logo-revealing sequence. The only one major change came in 2011 with the decision to drop “Walt” and “Pictures” from the title, which simply left the title, “Disney”. The current logo has intricate detail, things like balconies, windows and a moat that captivates the movie-goer from the moment the movie reel is set in motion. True to the original logo and Walt Disney’s intention, it’s an example of the technological capabilities of the Disney company.
What Makes the Disney Logo Effective
It’s unquestioned that the Disney logo is incredibly effective. Instantly recognizable the world over, it is one of the key elements that has helped to make Disney an enormously successful company. One of the most important elements that make the logo work is the fact that it changes along with its ever-changing audience. When the current generation seems to demand a new logo, the team at Disney can be counted on to come through for them.
It’s a good reminder that logos can be worth the time and effort it takes to create them. A company’s brand and values become instantly identified with an effective logo. Make sure your logo is well thought-out to set your business apart. The difference between a great logo and a bad one will be measured in dollars and cents.
Elements of a Good Logo
- It should be unique
- It should be easy to understand
- It should look good
- It should be easy to remember
- It should be relevant to your business
The Disney logo is one of the most iconic and recognizable logos in the history of business. You would expect that from a company whose success has been long-standing with a history rich in artistic heritage. A multi-billion dollar business should have a logo befitting its stature within its industry. But to know the story of Disney is to know of its humble beginnings.
Like most companies, it began modestly and not without setbacks. Through talent, perseverance, and hard work, the company is a world-renowned giant in the entertainment industry. Much of its success can be attributed to the decisions made by its founder and current company executives. Creating and updating an effective logo cannot be understated as a key element to Disney’s initial and continued success. An effective logo will help any company achieve its goals.