The History of the Shell Logo

This is the history of one of the worlds most recognised brands.

For more than 100 years the Shell pecten emblem and distinctive red and yellow colours have visualised the Shell brand and promoted the company's products and services all over the world.

The Shell logo has changed considerably since it's inception in 1900, yet you can still apreciate it's iconic form, whether viewing the original logo or in its current form.

I always remember Michael Wolff recounting his work on a redesign of the Shell logo, whilst running his agency, Wolff Olins. Wolff chose to simply warm up the colours. As he says, sometimes its what you don't change, that can be as important as what you do. That couldn't be more true than with the the iconic symbol of the red and yellow shell icon.

I stumbled across this brief history of the brand on the company website and thought it was well worth a read.

The word Shell first appeared in 1891, as the trademark for kerosene shipped to the Far East by Marcus Samuel and Company. This small London business dealt originally in antiques, curios and oriental seashells. These became so popular – the Victorians used them to decorate trinket boxes in particular – that soon they formed the basis of the company’s profitable import and export trade with the Far East.

The word was elevated to corporate status in 1897, when Samuel formed the Shell Transport and Trading Company. The first logo in 1901 was a mussel shell, but by 1904 a scallop shell or pecten emblem had been introduced to give a visual representation of the corporate and brand name.

When the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Transport and Trading merged in 1907, the latter’s brand name and symbol (Shell and the pecten) became the short-form name and emblem of the new Royal Dutch Shell Group. And so it has remained ever since.

The form of the Shell emblem has changed gradually over the years in line with trends in graphic design. The current emblem was introduced in 1971. Thirty years on it stands the test of time as one of the world’s most recognised symbols.


Origin of the Red Bull Brand

I will always remember my first trip to Thailand! It was one of those life affirming moments, a sensory overload of experience and learning!!! Travelling has been a great way for me to experience other brands and how consumers interact with them on a daily basis. Brands that I have never seen before visiting that country. Brands that are like the ones I grew up with but different! I love it. 

One of the most confusing for me was seeing what look liked the Red Bull brand, but when I tasted the product, it wasn't fizzy and was a lot thicker and more like a syrup. It seemed stronger in it's effects and they were sellking T shirts everywhere with the two bull branding on. It looked like the brand, but the product was different. Over the years, I read more and started to understand why this was. The following excerpt explains why this was!

I found this excerpt from global design agency, JKR's book 'Champions of Design 4', and it's a really interesting read, especially if like me, you were once confused why it tasted so differently in Thailand! The article was also featured on David Ariey's blog 'Logo Design Love.'

JKR's Champions of Design series, examines the history of some of the worlds most recognised brands. In this particular article, they feature the history and success of Red Bull. It's an absolutely fascinating story! Enjoy!

Under the leadership of Austrian brand owner Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull’s epic forays into art, racing, flying and even space have made the brand a global phenomenon. In terms of experience and communication, Mateschitz’s company added incalculable value to the brand. Where they didn’t add value was the design of the original Thai energy drink. And that of course, is what has added value. Sometimes, knowing when not to meddle with the magic is the thing that makes the magic itself.

In the 1970s, Red Bull was being marketed at farmers, construction workers and truck drivers in Thailand. Krating Daeng (‘Red Bull’ in Thai) was a populist drink for the working man: one that allowed you to overcome fatigue, pull a double shift, or drive all night.

It formed a long-standing association with Muay Thai (Thai kick boxing), which gave it popularity and street cred. With a potent mix of sugar, caffeine and taurine all packed up in a small medicinal brown glass bottle with a bright, colourful label, Red Bull became something of a success amongst its working-class consumer base.

It started with a humdrum business trip to Thailand for Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz. He stumbled across the drink and apparently discovered that it ‘cured’ his jet lag. In partnership with Thai inventor Chaleo Yoovidhya they launched a version of the Thai drink slightly modified to suit European tastes. The rest, as they say, is history.

Red Bull’s evolution from quirky local drink to global mega-brand is a master-class in how to execute a brilliantly joined-up communications idea across big-idea events. But it’s also a lesson in the value of restraint and sensitivity. When Mateschitz decided to launch ‘Krating Daeng’ in Austria, he was careful to retain the iconography of the brand, leaving its charging bulls virtually untouched. He recognised, perhaps, that a sense of the ‘foreign’, the exotic, the quirky and the doubtless potent would be positive associations for a new energy drink brand.

Design icons aren’t built overnight, and knowing when not to change them is a valuable skill. So now the world is richer for having two Red Bull brands that are of course, same same but different.

Did you know?

Thanks to Red Bull, its co-owner, Dietrich Mateschitz is the richest man in Austria.

Red Bull owns four football teams (based in Leipzig, Salzburg, New York and Campinas in Brazil) and two F1 outfits. Its F1 operation is said to cost the company half a billion dollars annually.

Red Bull racing hold the record for the fastest ever pit stop, timed at 1.923 seconds at the Austin GP in 2013.

As well as its famous extreme sport sponsorship, the company also promotes a paper airplane tournament called Red Bull Paper Wings.


Edible Drone - The Future of Aid Delivery

This incredible invention from Windhorse Aerospace could see a revolution in the way the world delivers aid to those effected by natural disasters.

The Windhorse website writes:

"For the first time ever, aid will be delivered accurately to those in desperate need with this use of a revolutionary and unique Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV).

There were over 125 natural disasters last year, add this to areas of conflict and the number of people starving as a result gets to breath taking levels.

Access to the people affected can be restricted due to the loss of infrastructure and many other dangers. Also, traditional methods of deploying aid can be ineffective, inaccurate or just impossible to use.

Windhorse has developed a specialist UAV called POUNCER™ that will be loaded with appropriate food, transported to the disaster area and fly independently to its pre-planned destination and land accurately into the selected landing zone, avoiding all infrastructure problems, corruption or hostile groups while saving time, money and more importantly lives.

POUNCER™'s pre-formed shell can be reused to provide shelter, the frame can be burnt safely to cook food, and the payload, which is food and water, provides life saving nutrition."

For more information on this amazing innovation you can  click here to download the factsheet.

You can view a short film about the Pouncer by Windhorse Aerospace by clicking here.

You can read more about the Pouncer by visiting the Windhorse Aerospace website by clicking here.


10 Ways To Be More Creative

Ever wondered how to improve your creativity and stay inspired? Why some designers have been a lot more successful than others? Well read on...

I recently wrote a post for the design life, which also featured here, titled, "The Most Important Word You Use Is Why!" The post was inspired by an incredibly motivating Design Indaba presentation by Sir John Hegarty, that I was lucky enough to attend back in 2013. Just the other day, I was reading through the design press and I stumbled upon a fantastic article at The Drum by Ishbel Macleod. The feature was based on Sir John Hegarty's 2014 book, 'Hegarty on Creativity' and lists his top 10 ways to be more creative. Check out number 8... 'Ask Why? A lot!' I have re blogged the list below as it makes for super reading:

1 Be fearless - be single minded in the face of opposition

2 Keep it simple - don't try to say or do too many things at once

3 Stop thinking, start feeling -creativity is driven by the heart, we respond more to emotions than logic

4 Get angry - channel the things that annoy/upset you into more creative tasks rather than getting stressed

5 Juxtaposition - don't be afraid to place two things next to one another that wouldn't normally sit together - even in your head

6 When the world zigs, zag - look in the opposite direction to everyone else

7 Avoid cynics - they drain your confidence - see number one

8 Ask Why? a lot - question everything like a child

9 Philosophy - always be looking, thinking, watching. Absorb everything around you

10 Remove your headphones! - don't cut yourself off from your environment.

You can read the whole article at The Drum by clicking here.

'Hegarty on Creativity' is Printed by Thames & Hudson Ltd and you can buy it here

Maclean writes that the book, "looks to guide readers through the process of creativity, from choosing your best ideas to dealing with fame when your product becomes successful."


Wadmans Organic Food / Branding & Packaging Design Concept

A concept project that I've been working on, recently received some interest from within the design industry, featuring on both Packaging of the World and the Dieline's 'Concepts We wish Were Real'. You can see the full project at Bechance.

At least once a year I return back to the UK to visit my family and friends. I get to travel the length and breadth of England, from London and the West Country, up to Lancashire, with a good many stops in between. Whilst there, I always try and fit in some design research. I visit as many retail stores, supermarkets, farm shops and craft brewery’s as possible, taking in new and interesting branding and packaging design. It becomes an invaluable source for my commercial design work as the creative director of a successful Cape Town based design studio. Occasionally it can even inspire a personal project and this was the case with the Wadmans Organic Food concept. Keen to take my rough ideas through to final visuals, I found myself working in my very small window of downtime, evenings after my wife and I had put our little baby boy to bed or weekend mornings with a cup of coffee, whilst reading through the latest design press.


My mother’s maiden name ‘Wadman’ was selected for the core brand identity, as I liked how the characters could be abstracted to form an interesting and memorable symbol. To create an iconic identity with clear consumer recognition, the Wadmans word-mark has been designed using two definitive shapes. The raised arm from the ‘n’ is removed to give the shape versatility. It’s doubled to create the ‘m’ and is then turned to form the ‘w’. The second shape employed is the circular ‘o’ form, which uses a small dropped arm to form the ‘a’ and a longer raised arm to create the ‘d’. The ‘s’ is also drawn with consideration to the ‘o’ form, completing the brand icon. I also created a fictional story for the brand, basing it on my mother and her sisters love for creating jams, chutneys and soups. 


Inspired by my deep interest in UK retail packaging design and the groundbreaking work of Sainsbury’s in house designer Peter Dixon, I wanted to create a range of products that would challenge some of the common formats of food packaging design. An expressive illustration style was selected in place of the often-used photographic pack shot. The use of white space allows each illustration to resonate and adds breathing space when the products are placed together.

My commercial work always comes first, but for me, I sometimes get inspired to follow an idea that either challenges, is just too experimental and expressive, or is within a different field to that of my commercial design studio and decide to develop it in my own time. It's not easy. I am a family man and finding time between a hectic work schedule and being a dad isn't easy, but for me, it can be an important tool for personal development. I strongly believe that some of this experimental work actually benefits my commercial projects. It's just you working on it, no client, no team, so you can do what ever you like! Be an artist and really express yourself! I absolutely love what I do so these projects are often a hobby for me.

This is my twentieth year working within the design industry, but if your a student looking for a way get into your dream job, then theres no better way to kickstart your career than starting a side project! Eric Karjaluoto recently wrote a fantastic article on this very topic that I would strongly recommend any young designer looking for a break into the industry to read. Click here to read the full article.

Here is a small excerpt from Eric's article that really outlines some importnat reasons for working on side project's.

Action creates action
When you’re stuck, the worst thing you can do is remain idle. I say this because I’ve been there. The empty inbox, the absence of telephone rings, and the lack of opportunities—that silence is a killer. It’ll lead you to poisonous thinking, in which you dwell on your perceived inadequacies and the obstacles you face. Instead, you need to do. The moment you start making something, you’ve taken control of your destiny. You’ll see action in front of you. You’ll feel invigorated. You’ll feed off the energy of creating—and new ideas will start to form. I know of no better means of becoming more creative, than to do a greater number of creative things.

Indulge your passions
Most wait for others to give them opportunities. Such folks typically wait a long time. Few want to hand you great opportunities—because they want those for themselves. So, you need to make your own opportunities, and start doing what you wish someone would ask you to do. Do you enjoy playing games? Make one that you want to play! Is someone you love affected by some kind of illness or social barrier? Start a campaign to raise awareness/understanding. Are you always helping friends with their design problems? Write a book about it. My point is that if no one’s letting you do what you want, you should do it anyway.

Eric Karjaluoto's blog is one of my favourites and has been a huge influence on creating my site. I would really recommend checking it out.

Enjoy what you do and get your ideas down in whatever form you can. Get them out there! Your never know where it will take you!

You can view the full Wadmans Organic Food, Branding and Packaging project by clicking here and viewing my portfolio.