History of the Disney Logo Design & Brand Evolution
Walt Disney Studios is one of the most iconic film production companies in the modern age.
With the domineering Disney logo, there is no doubt that a lot has taken place to give them the household name it is today.
Every company needs some corporate identity and more so, a logo to help put its vision and mission in the public domain.
You would not say anything different about Disney Studios.
Since its creation, Disney Studios, one of the biggest and best animation companies in the world today, has undergone considerable milestones.
Not to mention significant transformations on its corporate image to a near perfect logo design – their Cinderella castle symbol to which, many people around the world are accustomed.
Moreover, even as time passes on, the film production company is still making powerful impacts on the animation movie industry.
This post unravels the history of the Disney Logo design, a seemingly captivating castle that quickly lets you know about the producers of the movie you are about to watch.
That, however, the ingenuity behind every detail on the iconic brand identity is almost unmatched anywhere.
A few similar instances of excellent movie logo design include Columbia Pictures, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Dream Works Animation, Pixar and Warner Bros Pictures.
Founded out of Passion
People troop in their thousands to Disneyland, amusement parks and movie theatres to have a good time.
However, not many bother to find out about the real story behind all these creations.
At the peak of his enterprising spirit, Walt Disney, the founder of the multi-billion dollar animation company envisioned something that gets bigger with every passing day even after his demise.
He had fallen in love with drawing and over time, conceived the idea of setting mimicry creations into motion for a more lively experience, not just to fulfil his passion but to also give viewers something they would equally love on their TV screens.
Animation productions like Mickey Mouse remain very popular many years on.
The story of Walt Disney, alongside his many partnerships to modern day cartoon films, is long and winding, but at the same time, exhilarating.
However, that is a story for another day.
The Disney Logo and Brand Identity
Any serious business without a logo would not go beyond its first quarter of operation.
That is the way it is.
It is even unthinkable in the first place.
However, come to think about it and ask this question.
Of what benefit is it to them?
Graphic Design did not start yesterday; neither did it begin ten years ago.
It has been part of movie productions since time immemorial.
Moreover, when it comes to logo design, the two are inseparable entities unless you are talking about something else.
There will hardly be any conversation about a graphic design company without the mention of a logo.
It is the ultimate brand identity of a company, not to mention learning institutions and agencies.
Now, it goes that Disney studios must have invested a fortune in hiring graphic designers to come up with something as iconic as the Cinderella castle on their Disney logo.
Technically, it is a thoughtful process.
Also, regarding how it plays a part in brand identity, things like colour, shapes, form, lines, and canons of logo design have to play a role.
Castles always evoke myriad feelings.
Historical epoch or romance, there is still those deeply seated feelings that create sweet pictures in mind.
So, was this one of the reasons why Disney studios chose such an image?
Well in just a short while, you will find out but first, here are some interesting design elements to note about the castle in Disneyland.
- It is located inside Disneyland; a welcoming iconic feature into a magical world of things you only see in the movies.
- It measures up to 189 feet high, and there is a water concrete at the bottom holding an approximated 3.37 million US water gallons.
- A forced perspective makes the royal blue-roofed structure seem taller than its actual height.
- It has 27 towers, formerly 29, until 13th and 17th towers were demolished during construction since they could not be seen clearly by the public. Number 10 has a clock, and the 20th tower is the tallest.
- There are four more turrets that have been added to the Cinderella Castle to make it more panoramic.
- It features steel construction, even though the public thinks it is marble.
- The exterior features hardened fibre that has been reinforced with gypsum plaster.
Did you know that the Disney Castle can withstand 110 miles per hour hurricane winds and could remain stable in case of stronger forces of Mother Nature?
Now you know!
The history behind the Disney Logo
The founder, Walt Disney, from which the company draws its famous name, worked in different animation companies before setting up his studios later on.
Upon expiry of their contract at The Pressmen-Rubin Art Studio, Walt and Ubbe Iwerks, who also worked for the same company decided to establish their own animation company in 1920.
It was to be later known as Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists.
However, they could not keep up with the demanding managerial duties.
As a result, Disney got a job with Kansas City Film Ad Company, and Iwerks joined him.
It is here where he produced Laugh-O-grams, an experimental animation movie.
The production was well received by viewers, and it marked the beginning of his cartoon films.
However, things did not go as planned, and so, somewhere along the line, Laugh O gram studies suffered unfortunate fate of Bankruptcy forcing Disney to join Hollywood together with his Brother named Roy in 1923.
You must have noticed the Disney logo varies between blue and white shades.
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First appearing in Disney movies in the year 1985 during which, it had not many modifications on the Black Cauldron for almost ten years.
They created Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, produced and sold their first work, Alice's Wonderland, a cartoon action movie.
Because viewers were receptive to the first episodes, it became very successful, something which meant, they had to produce more episodes.
However, as time would have it, they had to produce another one; Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit Cartoon, to replace the now mostly unpopular Alice's Wonderland.
Things did not favour them as much because production copyrights belonged to Universal Studies.
This forced Walt Disney to come up with a new idea, the famous Mickey Mouse which became an instant hit.
More productions were to follow, such as Silly Symphonies, something which was primarily attributed to character-sound synchronisation in the new releases.
Again, it marked the beginning of vast fortunes as more of his animations were being distributed by leading film companies such as United Artists and Columbia Pictures.
The first full-length animation saw the light of day in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The First 48 years
It would interest you to note that for the first 48 years, a logo did not feature anywhere in the Disney productions, neither was there any for the company.
What viewers could see is ‘Walt Disney Present,' and later on, ‘Walt Disney Pictures,' between the years 1937 and 1985.
Spanning 1985 to 2006
From 1985 to around 2006, a light blue version of the Sleeping Beauty (Cinderella Castle) was introduced into the picture with the company's name as inscriptions in the foreground.
The Disney logo was in 2-dimensional graphic, and a white line would form the castle, then the emblem fonts and later, a curved line behind the iconic image reminiscent of Disney Theme parks.
There was a variation of the same featuring a golden colour with no clear-cut differences from the blue one.
A deal with Pixar
It was time to do things differently, and a deal with Pixar saw an introduction of a 3D version of the original Disney logo.
It was a creation of Pixar.
In the new look, there is a zoom out from the sleeping beauty with flags also moving.
It finally reveals the writings ‘Walt Disney Pictures,' after which a star appears to draw a line stretching at the back of the castle.
There have been modifications to the latest design to cope with the most recent production technologies; Computer Generated Imagery Animation (CGI).
The new look logo is revealed from the clouds to fireworks, and finally the castle and writings.
Around 1995, when Disney partnered with Pixar, the branding was given a thematic approach by fearing as an introduction to movie productions.
It is during this time that an animated castle first appeared on Movie screens. Also, blue was no longer the only colour variation.
With the passage of time, Disney started to invest in own identity (logo) for a stronger brand.
It, therefore brought to the fore, a combination of the castle and the slogan; Walt Disney Pictures.
The Bottom Line
A look at the history of the Disney logo would be incomplete without mentioning the founder, Walt Disney albeit, after his demise in 1966 at the age of 65.
Today, the company is a brand name in the movie industry, not to mention that it is a conglomerate serving as a hostname to many different entities.
Well, it is almost impossible to talk about Cartoon production without mention Disney studio, a household name known to millions of people worldwide.
Also, if you have been to any of the theme parks, there is no doubt that what started as a simple idea has now evolved into something of a force to reckon with.
Author bio: Robert Mora is a freelance corporate advisor, researcher, and writer at AssignmentGeek. He is fond of the history of design and modern arts. Robert has a blogging passion, so he likes to share his thoughts with internet users.