Learn Why These 3 Letter Logos Became the Most Memorable Branding Assets
In the midst of an ever-growing competition and an ongoing race towards finding a unique place in the market, brands spend millions on creating a memorable brand identity. At the heart of it all is the brand’s logo, which has to encapsulate the brand’s essence.
Whenever we think of a brand like McDonald’s, Nike, or Apple, the first thing that comes to our mind besides the abstract qualities of a brand and our experiences attached to them, is the logo which visually represents and symbolizes all those qualities and experiences in a concrete form.
The process of finding this unique brand identity is a highly complex process, but the solution to a problem need not always be reflective of this complexity. Often, brands find the perfect answer in some of the most simplistic, yet often very creative, logos that go entirely unchanged throughout the brand’s history, and even if modified, the changes are very minor.
Many of these branding assets are often found in the form of 3 letter logos, which are commonly known as monograms, and are among the most popular types of logo design projects received by our logo design services team.
1. Why Do 3 Letter Logos Stand Out?
3 Letter Logos are some of the most memorable ones because the shorter a logo, the more crisply memorable it is. Of course, this applies to the brand names as well, which is why most logos feature three letters, as the brand name itself is shortened in the form of an acronym.
This makes it easier for people to pronounce the name and remember it, which is one of the main reasons why these logos have a straight-to-the-point attitude. Most of the time, these logos are created with a bold font which makes the text more legible, helping it stand out amid other logos.
2. Our Top 10 Picks of The Most Famous Three Letter Logos
Some of the most famous brands in the world have succeeded in effectively creating a unique brand identity with their three Letter Logos. These logos have popularized so much that often people do not have a clue as to what these letters stand for, in case these letters are used as an acronym for the full name of the brand/company.
Following is our list of the most famous three letter logos ever made (in no particular order):
KFC is a fast-food restaurant chain that has more than 25,000 branches in over 145 countries across the world. The first restaurant was inaugurated in the state of Kentucky, America in 1952. And soon popularized because of its specialty in fried chicken fast-food.
Being a global brand, KFC now has one of the most world renowned restaurant logos, which is quite easily recognizable from afar, thanks to the 1991 rebranding of it which featured the famous image of the iconic Colonel Sanders sporting a white suit and red apron.
The three big initials of the brand name Kentucky Fried Chicken also contrast against the primarily red logo which is a color that most restaurant brands use because of how it enhances a logo’s visibility.
As a brand that has been at the forefront of the food industry for more than 70 years, KFC has had several versions of the logo. However, since 1991 they all share the same color scheme and stylistic elements, with the exception of the 2014 to 2018 KFC logo, which was again replaced in favor of the previous style.
MTV is an American cable channel based in New York City which was launched on August 1st, 1981. It soon amassed popularity across the world as one of the most reputable sources of gaining insight into the new trends and events happening in the music world.
For millennials, it is impossible to have a conversation about music and not mention MTV. However, while MTV has its place in our minds due to its contributions to the world of music, the only thing visually recallable about the brand is its simplistic 3 letter logo.
What it stands for, is pretty obvious, having been named Music Television. But the capital M is all that needs to be remembered in the logo, despite it being as self-explanatory as the two letters that follow it.
Similar to most other three letter logos, Manhattan Design studio designed the logo with a bold and solid typeface for the letter ‘M’ that is 3 dimensional, added on top of which are two letters ‘TV’ with a creative touch, to give the logo a more laid back, and casual feel, as required for a music broadcasting channel.
The ingenuity of the logo design also lies in its choice of black color mixed with the transparent elements that allow background colors to seep into the logo design, giving more character and personality to the logo, almost bringing it to life.
One of the first news broadcasting networks of the US, NBC also known as National Broadcasting Channel began its journey with Radio Broadcasting in 1926. Since the very early version of its logo, NBC has featured 3 letters on its logos. However, the icons and other branding elements used in the brand logo changed through the years.
In 1942, the brand became a television network and introduced its new logo in 1944. Then, after the ability for color programming, NBC made a drastic change to its logo yet again. In 1956, the channel used a peacock on its logo designed by John J.Graham, as a way of celebrating the richness of color.
Today, the brand still sports a similar logo with very minor changes to it, such as the beak of the peacock which is now just a bit bigger, or the peacock’s eleven feathers that are now replaced with six. In 2011 the wordmark was briefly removed, however, in 2013 it was again reintroduced and has stayed the same till date.
IBM is another world renowned company working in the tech industry. Established in 1911 in New York the company’s initial name was not IBM, however later on when the business expanded the company’s name was changed in 1924 from Computing Tabulating-Recording Company, to International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM for short.
Since then, the logo only underwent one major change, which was only in the case of the first design, dubbed as the ‘Globe Logo’. After that the logo was changed to a simple wordmark in 1956, followed by the incorporation of the strips that were initially 13 and then changed to 8.
These strips indicated the speed and vibrancy of the company’s pace, with which it was expanding globally. Finally, the added blue color gave the logo a sophisticated look, and brought an end to IBM’s continued struggle for a perfect logo design.
Watching a company grow as an underdog in the automotive industry selling cheap cars, to a well-reputed company increasingly stealing the market share from some of the most top notch American car brands, KIA has proved its mettle and has gained global recognition for its excellence.
Unlike most other brands that use a symbol, KIA used a 3 letter logo on its cars which kind of sets it apart from other brands, making it easily recognizable. However, the logo achieved its uniqueness owing to its simplistic design.
This, we can be confident of, as there has been a backlash on the recent rebranding of the KIA logo, which has confused many people. It’s unclear whether it reads KM, KN, or KIA as it should, which is a clear indication of why keeping a three letter logo as simple as possible is always a good sign of the company.
Hopefully, the new design will grow on us, as its most likely here to stay as part of what the company calls an attempt to start afresh and change the direction of the company. In speaking of why this particular design was chosen as a revamped car logo, KIA published a statement.
In a press release they expressed the idea behind the new logo and spoke of how “The rhythmical, unbroken line of the logo conveys Kia’s commitment to bringing moments of inspiration, while its symmetry demonstrates confidence.”
Speaking of brands that have effectively captured their essence without overcomplicating their logos, DHL is among one of the top companies that comes to one’s mind. The company has its name based on the first letters of its founder’s surname: Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn.
The logistics company provides transport and courier services and has expanded its services into multiple domestic markets having previously served as a cargo transporter on international level.
Suggestive of what the company is all about, the brand also depicts its fast delivery service with the help of horizontal lines on each of its sides, to depict speed. Across the letters DHL is a thunderbolt-like line that further emphasizes this speed.
Moreover, the red colored letters against the yellow background are perfect for creating contrast to help make the logo pop out.
Hollywood Box Office, also known as HBO, is a cable network that is watched globally across several countries. After its first logo design between 1972 – 1975, it has consistently had the same 3 letter logo based on an ever-green black color.
This new version was designed by Betty Brugger, made using the Avant Garde Bold font. After that, the only change it underwent since 1975 was the slight adjustment in the alignment of the letter O to give the logo more clarity.
Also, in the 3rd version, the increased outline of the inner circle inside of the O was what made the letter appear more like the eye of a camera lens, perfectly depicting the medium of entertainment that the channel is aligned with.
One of the most famous manufacturers of construction machinery and equipment in America, Caterpillar has achieved global recognition through its memorable and iconic three letter logo that comprises the first 3 letters of the transport company name.
Much of its global popularity stems from the iconic logo featured on its work wear, which in some parts of the world is seen as a fashion brand logo. The yellow triangular shape in place of the A indicates the yellow construction signs.
Yet, despite the robust looking font that was meant to be placed on manufacturing products, the contrasting yellow and black colors seem to give a more distinct and youthful look to the logotype, more so when it is used on clothes, featuring a font that belongs to the Helvetica typeface, an unlikely choice when compared to competitor brands in the clothing industry.
Simplistic in its approach, the British Broadcasting Corporation or BBC, uses a monochromatic logo that does justice to the public service channel with its minimalistic design. Without going over the top, the contrasting monochromatic logo is able to depict a public service channel’s duty of reporting everything with complete impartiality.
The current logo for BBC was designed by Martin Lambie-Naim in 1997, wherein the blocks are black and square, similar to how Abram Games originally designed the logo. However, Naim’s version had its letters refined with Gill Sans font, which gave it a fresh look. What’s best about the logo is how easily it can blend with new elements to form different logos for the multiple different channels owned by BBC.
CNN did not take long to become a hit soon after the network’s inception in 1980, and since then has consistently used the same logo, all thanks to its future-proof design. All that changed was the color palette that switched to red and white, from the initial black and white used in the early years of the company.
The red color creates a sense of urgency and depicts passion and energy, while the white line in the middle is a sign of trust and truthfulness. The logo proves that with a proper execution, brands can come up with a logo that does not necessarily require repeated rebranding attempts.
Frequently Asked Questions
A good logo should be unique and memorable, designed in a way that it effectively encapsulates the essence of a brand.
A letter mark or a monogram is a text-based logo that consists of only a couple of letters. Popular examples include: IBM, KFC, and KIA.
Monograms are usually made by using the initials of a full name. So if a brand or company is called The Excel Lens, its Monogram would feature the first letter of each word, spelled TEL.
A text logo falls into the category of a monogram or a wordmark. It is essentially a business name written with an attractive typography.
These famous 3 letter logos discussed above are perfect examples as to why it is not necessary for artists to come up with over the top designs for each and every client. Sometimes the need of the hour, as well as the need of the client is a simplistic brand logo that should simply focus on serving its primary purpose, which is to encapsulate the brand’s essence and leave a lasting impression on the audience’s mind, ensuring maximum memorability.
Logopoppin is a graphic design agency that specializes in logo designing, web development, video production and advanced branding services. We love to innovate businesses with new age technologies, allowing them to improve their visual reputation.