9 great uses of illustration in logo design

These classic logos make great use of inspiring illustrations.

There’s a big trend in logo design these days towards simplification and minimalism. This trend is all about paring your logo down to the minimum, which may mean using typography alone, or just simple vector graphics… but certainly nothing as fussy as an illustration.

Some classic logos, however, still include detailed and beautiful illustrated elements, which bring an extra dimension to the design and truly make it stand out. Here are some of our favourites. Let us know yours in the comments below!

01. Guns n Roses

The Guns n Roses logo tells you exactly what the band is about

Formed in 1985, the rock band behind hits like Sweet Child O’ Mine have had a number of logos over the years. But our favourite has to be this classic design, depicting the two elements of the band’s name literally, against the background of a silver bullet… and with a couple of subtle drops of blood to ram home the point.

What’s known by fans as the ‘bullet logo’ has adorned T-shirts, posters and tickets across multiple decades, and was revived for last year’s Coachella appearance. The origins of its design are unclear, though, with a disputed claim that it was drawn by drummer Steven Adler. Learn more about the evolution of the GnR logo here

02. Malibu

The Malibu logo uses illustration to symbolise laid-back island living

A rum cocktail that’s 42 per cent proof, Malibu instantly sums up images of laid-back island living, and that’s thanks in no small part to its famous illustrated logo. 

Featuring serene palm trees set against a golden sunset, the illustration effortlessly conveys the warmth and energy of Barbados life. 

The logo design has remained largely unchanged over the years, last receiving a refresh in 2013, when The Absolut Company refined both the illustration and typography. You can learn more about that revamp here.

03. MailChimp

Who wouldn’t want to join a service headed by this friendly chap?

An email newsletter company doesn’t sound like something that could ever become hip. But that’s just what MailChimp, founded in 2001, has achieved, in part through a strong focus on design. Central to that effort has been the loveable cartoon monkey that’s become synonymous with the brand and its handwritten wordmark. 

The original MailChimp logo was designed by MailChimp founder Ben Chestnut in 2001; in his words it was “hacked together” in Firefox and he was never really happy with it. So in 2008, he commissioned Jon Hicks (who also created the Firefox logo) to design a new version, featuring a 3D illustration of the monkey, and the rest is simian history. 

You can learn more about how the illustration was made in this blog post

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