Back in 1977, Apple changed their logo from the line drawing of Issac newton, to one that looks a bit more familiar. But the most striking part of the modernized logo are the rainbow stripes. Why did Apple, a company known for their minimal design, add so much visual complexity to their logo? Well, the story behind the stripes began with Ron Janoff. A graphic designer who worked at Regis McKenna’s marketing agency. He was tasked with creating some options for Apple’s new logo. At the time, text-based designs were common in the tech industry. So Janoff went the opposite direction, taking a more visual approach.
Colored Apple Logo
His concept was a silhouette of an apple with a bite mark. It was remarkably simple yet effective symbol. Causing customers to instantly associate it with the word ‘Apple’ without using any letters. But when it came to the color, Janoff was less confident. He explored various shades of gray, metal textures, and and even solid colors. But Janoff also thought rainbow stripes could make sense, since the Apple II was the only computer available with support for a color display. Integrating this selling point into the company’s logo would remind customers of Apple’s superior technology. Although this approach had a fatal flaw. It was only a matter of time until the competition caught up with the Apple II and began featuring color displays too.
Unsure of which direction to go, he left the decision up to Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. Who was presented with all the various color options Janoff had explored. In the end, Jobs picked the logo with colorful stripes. His reason, was that it appeared more friendly and accessible. Which is how he wanted customers to feel about the Apple II. But some other executives in the company felt differently. They knew printing a six-color logo on computers, documents, and promotional material would be expensive. But Jobs insisted that the extra expense was worth the marketing benefits. The multi-color logo was used for twenty years.
Return of Steve Jobs
Until 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to the company he was forced out of, which was 90 days from bankruptcy. Upon his arrival, Jobs was surprised to find many of the same talented people working there, despite the company’s total mismanagement. Jobs asked an employee why they didn’t quit and join a more competent tech company. They replied, “because I bleed in six colors.” A phrase commonly used among Apple fans. At that point, Jobs knew the company still had a chance of survival. And major changes were made to mark the beginning of a new era. Products like the Newton Message Pad were discontinued, and the colors were dropped from the company’s logo. Opting instead, for a modern, monochrome look.
But even though the six colors are no longer part of Apple’s logo, they have been used in other ways. For example, the stage built inside the company’s headquarters features six arcs that use the same colors, in the same order, as the old logo. And the most recent lineup of iMacs are available in the same six colors. With the commercial even featuring an updated version of the striped Apple logo at the end. That means Apple recognizes the historic significant of the rainbow logo, despite it no longer being used.