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Shell Logo History & Evolution Rising From Insignificance To An Iconic Status

by Henny Kel Tweet - in Logo Design

Shell Logo History

Last updated on January 25th, 2022

Shell is a multinational oil and gas company. Its logo is unique and impresses us at the very first glance. But the logo has undergone many changes with the time. Although, the shell logo design has not been radically changed but some tweaks made it even more significant and memorable. Here is its design history.

Shell logo first came to fore in the early 20th century. Since then, the logo has undergone major changes and it looks entirely different today from its earlier version. Today Shell logo has a sophisticated and elegant look that successfully represents global reputation of the oil and gas multinational company.

The yellow-red Shell logo has played a crucial role in the success of the company. The logo design is such that people can easily remember it for a long period. Such a logo helps the company in interacting with its customers without personally coming in touch with them all the time.

It would be interesting to have a look at the company logo evolution of more than hundred years. As we go through the logos history, we come to know that it had a very casual and unimpressive design in the earlier years of its evolution. As the time passed and technological advancements were made in the printing and color printing, the logo transformed itself and took a new eye-pleasing shape.

Shell Logo – Main Highlights On History & Evolution

01. Early 1900s Unimpressive Design

Today, of course, the Shell logo is recognized the world over due to its unique design. But when shell logo design appeared for the first time in early years of 1900s, it was a very poor drawing of a mussel shell.

Shell logo

While it is true that a mollusk shell does not have an impressive shape, but poor designing further worsened appearance of the logo . The shell was pictured from an angle which did not make any improvement in the shape.

02. 1909 First Redesigning Attempt Failed Measurably

For a better aesthetic value of the logo, picture of mussel shell was replaced with a scallop shell. This enhanced the logos appearance, however, the black color of the logos backspace made it look poor. The logo design created in 1909 lasted for two decades.

logo design

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03. 1930s Logo Takes Symmetrical Shape

The company took the next redesigning step in 1930. This time, an art style shell design had an excellent shape that looked symmetrical and impressive. The design gave shape of a crown to the logo as the company wanted to project itself as the king of business in its field.

Symmetrical Shape logo design

04. 1948- Colors Introduced

The first splash of colors was introduced to the shell logo design in 1948. However, the design turned out to be a step backward since the clean lines of the logo adopted in 1930 were missing.

Colors Introduced

Instead, the new design had blurred lines and the logo was a bit taller which made it look like it was hand-colored. The company introduced red and yellow to the design as these were colors of Spain. California had its early settlers from Spain and the company wants to have an emotional bond with them.

professional logo

05. 1971 Radical Changes That Lasted To Date

In 1971, the company started having a relook at its Shell logo design. The new design had clean lines that cut wide yellow strips, forming a crown shape. A major change in the design was introduction of bordering the yellow strips and whole of the logo design with red color.

Shell logo design

In fact, the red outlining of the logo gave an entirely new look to the logo. The look was so impressive that the company continues to have the red outline in its current version for rest of years to date. Shell logo design appears almost the same since 1971.

In the ’70s graphic designs were more colorful and exciting. Even brochure designs and other such marketing materials had multi colors and use of multi fonts as a specialty.

06. 1995 Friendly Shades Of Red And Yellow

Another explanation for choice of red and yellow is that the Shell Company of California had built service stations and wanted to color them to stand out amid the competitors. It was in 1995 that the company started launching of its retail business and needed a new brand identity.

Shell logo design

During this period, the company strategically opted for friendly shades of red and yellow. Both these colors were slightly dimmed to lower their brightness so that people do not feel offended by the logo colors.

07. 1995- Curves Trimmed

In 1955, the design appeared much better and appealing to eyes. While basic design remained the same, little curves on the top of the logo. Color of the text matched with the entire color scheme. The red background we see today in the logo design was first introduced in 1961. Red gave a new look to the design.

Curves Trimmed

Use of vivid colors was a chief feature of the 90s not only of logos but even website design also to express excitement and element of surprise for the audience.

Shell Logo Design Elements

The Shell logo underwent many changes during first seven decades of last century. But its spirit, spelled through its crown shape and red and yellow colors, never changed. The 1971 logo was landmark creation of Raymond Loewy. It would be interesting to know about the design elements employed by the master designer to create the logo.

01. Shape

Despite redesigning of Shell logo, its crown shape did not undergo any changes. The shape is in fact protective outer case of mollusk shell. Shape of the logo narrates the incomparable reputation of the company. The company rightly adopted mollusk shell shape for depicting its king size status in the corporate world.

Curves Trimmed

Since the shell is also known for its association of Eco-cycle of oil exploration, the company sends the message of an ethical corporate house meeting the concerns of environment. The logo shape is so powerful that the company has never felt the need to change it in so many decades.

In fact, shape is a chief element in creating graphic design. Apart from a logo, you can also use different shapes to create a memorable business card design. An exciting shape surely engages the customers.

02. Color

The Shell logo uses red and yellow as these are highlighting colors and provide a dominating look to the logo. Use of the colors optimizes the logos elegance and beauty. Yellow has been strategically maintained as a dominant color which is instantly visible and gives a soft look to the yellow.

But the softness does not lower the status of the company in the global business as the crown shape of the business logo give a message of domination. Red is very aggressive colors that may also offend the viewers. But it is also the color of energy. Hence, use of red is for outlining boundaries of the logo.

03. Font

The designers used the fonts strategically to depict the oil company reputation in the corporate world. The letters SHELL are designed in bold font for the sole purpose of projecting the company high standing and qualities. Bold typeface also helps people to remember the logo.

The company designed its SHELL letters in bold typeface also to showcase the everlasting dominating position of the company in the global oil and gas business.

A creative use of typeface is also equally crucial to the entire gamut of graphic design. So, make sure that you pick right typeface even for usually ignored leaflet design as part of your marketing campaign.

Shell logo is an excellent example of a logo taking shape with gradual passage of time. It first started as a humble picture of a shell lying unnoticed at the sea beach. The logo then undergoes some changes in its shape and colors. Like other famous logos of global brands, Shell also refused to make any hasty changes in its business logo design.

The changes were made only when they were absolutely necessary to make. Shape, color and typeface of the logo have remained almost the same over the decades so that people identify with the company business and get message that the company continues to enjoy supremacy, power and strength in the global market.

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Shell logo design is unique and memorable. Still whenever required, the company made some changes in the logo. Every time the changes happened, the logo came out with a polished look and impressed the new generation of users of the company’s products.

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I am a graphic, web designer and blogger with over 6 years experience. I am very passionate about anything related to design and spends copious amounts of time hidden behind a book or a screen and reading about design. Twitter



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