Brands and logos for people?
January 13, 2010 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me think of examples of individuals (not companies) that have strong brand identities?

I'm teaching a career preparation seminar for graduating college seniors, and I want to introduce them to the idea of personal branding. I'm looking for examples of logos and/or logotypes that are instantly identifiable as belonging to a specific person. So far, I've got Michael Jordan's "Jumpman" logo, Tiger Woods's "TW" mark, and Oprah Winfrey's big "O." Can you suggest any others? (Yes, I know the examples listed here are really corporate logos, since these individuals have become companies/brands unto themselves, but their logos still evoke a person rather than a faceless entity.)
posted by lewistate to Media & Arts (52 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Prince.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:49 AM on January 13, 2010


Einstein? Not his doing, but his hairdo has a major 'brand' identity.
posted by Coobeastie at 8:53 AM on January 13, 2010


Seth Godin and his bald head. Not really a logo, like something you could make into a vector and screenprint onto a T-shirt, but still instantly recognizable.
posted by relucent at 8:53 AM on January 13, 2010


Does it matter if there's more than one logo associated with a person? Martha Stewart and Sean "Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/SeanJohn" Combs have a few they've cycled through.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:53 AM on January 13, 2010


Obama?
posted by oinopaponton at 8:54 AM on January 13, 2010


Sort of along Coobeastie's lines, anything by Warhol is instantly recognized as his work. Like this.

I'm not sure that's really a logo, though.
posted by elisebeth at 8:55 AM on January 13, 2010


I imagine a lot of musicians have something like this.... cone boobies, glittering glove, etc...

(also, I've never heard of Seth Godin, or his apparently bald head)
posted by Grither at 8:55 AM on January 13, 2010


Martha Stewart is always a good example - her corporate brand started as her personal brand.

Also - why are you concentrating on logos? Brands and logos are not the same thing. Individuals (and companies) can have extremely strong brands without having a logo at all. Are you interested in logo-less personal brands? Because you'll probably get more (and more interesting) responses if you are.
posted by Kololo at 8:56 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Che, though he's probably rolling over in his grave at the thought of it.
Alfred Hitchcock

Do you know who else had a strong brand identity? Hitler.
posted by mkultra at 8:57 AM on January 13, 2010


J-Lo comes to mind, plus the numerous pop/rnb also-rans who have emulated the format of shortening (Li-Lo etc).

Simon Cowell is an expert at personal branding, but not in the sense of a logo.
posted by greenish at 9:02 AM on January 13, 2010


Criss Angel has a logo. Donald Trump's stern mug-portrait from The Apprentice could be seen as a logo. Penn & Teller have a big red ampersand.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:02 AM on January 13, 2010


Roger Feder has been trying to trot out a personal logo through Nike, though I don't know how successful he's been.

Also: Jesus Christ.
posted by eggplantplacebo at 9:06 AM on January 13, 2010


Thanks, everyone. The minute I posted the question I though, "Duh, Obama!" Prince, Martha Stewart, and Hitchcock are all great examples, too. (I wonder how many 22-year-old college students will recognize Hitchcock's profile...)

Kololo: You're right—a logo (or logotype) is just one tiny part of the branding equation, but for this exercise, I want to show as many visual examples as possible. That said, if you have good examples of "logoless" personal brands (I think Einstein, Warhol, and few others mentioned above qualify here), I'd love to add them to my list.
posted by lewistate at 9:06 AM on January 13, 2010


A number of people like Greg Norman and Jerry Garcia have used their signatures (or, uh, their estates have) as logotypes.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:07 AM on January 13, 2010


John Lennon - signature, glasses, etc.
posted by anastasiav at 9:11 AM on January 13, 2010


Alfred Hitchcock's profile logo, most famously used for his series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"
posted by googly at 9:12 AM on January 13, 2010


How about Lance Armstrong and Livestrong?
posted by alynnk at 9:12 AM on January 13, 2010


Just thought of Steve Wynn.
posted by elisebeth at 9:13 AM on January 13, 2010


Lance Armstrong is strongly associated with especially yellow and some black. Don King also uses his hair as a logo and is always wearing a jacket with American Flags. Steve Jobs with jeans and a black turtle neck. Hugh Hefner and the playboy lifestyle - pajamas, pipe, slippers, etc.
posted by redthread at 9:15 AM on January 13, 2010


To mostly focus on some classics:

Movies:
Charlie Chaplin (tight jacket, baggy pants, tiny mustache, hat, cane)
Groucho Marx (glasses, big mustache, cigar, suit)
Harpo Marx (curly blonde wig, trenchcoat, horn, no talking)
W.C. Fields (big red nose, squinty eyes, straw hat, alcoholic beverages, mumbling)
Marilyn Monroe (eyes, lips, hourglass figure -- I've seen just her eyes used as a logo)
Harold Lloyd (man hanging from clock)

Music:
The Beatles (early era, 4 mop-topped lads in grey suits playing instruments on stage)
Sid Vicious (prototypical punk)
Chuck Berry (duckwalk w/ guitar)
Little Richard (flamboyant get-up, standing at piano)
Eddie Van Halen (trademark red and white guitar + outfit)
Jimi Hendrix (boa, guitar on fire, etc.)
Michael Jackson (Billie Jean era with moonwalk, single sequined glove, etc.)
Stevie Wonder (big sunglasses and smile)
Kiss (makeup)
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:33 AM on January 13, 2010


in certain crowds dhh (david heinemeier hansson) is a brand. he created the rails framework and i would venture a large number of the people that use his software know him only as dhh.
posted by phil at 9:38 AM on January 13, 2010


Coco Chanel is kind of the classic isn't it?
Picasso?
posted by BoscosMom at 9:40 AM on January 13, 2010


Madonna.

Basically most performers/artists/famouspeople who go by their first name and are recognized that way seem to me at least to have their personal branding down pat.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:42 AM on January 13, 2010


Seth Godin and his bald head. Not really a logo, like something you could make into a vector and screenprint onto a T-shirt, but still instantly recognizable.

I know quite well who Seth Godin is, but I can assure you that if I saw an image of a bald-headed man (I assume you mean the one from his blog) on a T-shirt, "That's Seth Godin!" wouldn't be in my top 100 responses. I'd be much more likely to think that the person wearing it was a fan of J.K. Simmons.

Here's a discussion of some celebrity athletes' personal logos. It doesn't mention Tiger Woods's personal logo, though.

Drew Carey's Clark Kent glasses are part of his image and often used in logos for his projects.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:50 AM on January 13, 2010


Greg Norman had a shark logo.
posted by kensington314 at 10:10 AM on January 13, 2010


The Wu-Tang Clan is eight people, but that logo is almost universally recognized among a certain generation. And it was customized for each individual rapper during their first generation of solo albums.
posted by kensington314 at 10:11 AM on January 13, 2010


The Beckhams?
posted by elsietheeel at 10:12 AM on January 13, 2010


Donald Trump.
posted by aquafortis at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2010


The Beckhams?

David Beckham has a personal logo.

Victoria Beckham needs one. Holy shit, that's a horrible typeface.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:24 AM on January 13, 2010


Orville Redenbacher?
posted by amyms at 10:36 AM on January 13, 2010


Excellent answers all around. Thanks, everybody! I marked as favorites the ones I plan to use in my seminar, but I appreciate the responses that pushed me to think about the bigger picture of personal branding. This thread has provided plenty of fodder for my discussion with the students. Ask MetaFilter does it again!
posted by lewistate at 10:37 AM on January 13, 2010


Not a visual brand, but an aural one: Akon and his trademark “konvict” soundbyte. It’s very prominent in “Don’t Matter” (it kicks off the song) but can be heard in many songs. The first time I heard Leona Lewis’s “Forgive Me”, for example, I knew right away that it was somehow related to Akon, because that little sound is in there, right at the beginning of the song. (Turns out he co-wrote and produced the song). It’s like his signature.
posted by yawper at 10:40 AM on January 13, 2010


I appreciate the responses that pushed me to think about the bigger picture of personal branding.

Think about positive and negative branding, too. Paris Hilton has given interviews where she indicates that she (or rather, her people) consider her entire image to be a brand. This can work both positively and negatively.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2010


Drew Carey actually has perfect vision (laser surgery) but kept the glasses for the look.

Colonel Sanders? Kinda blurs the distinction. Dave Thomas/Wendy's in a different way.

Stan Lee/Wolf Man Jack with the white stripes or Wolf Man's howl. Fictional Characters? The bride of Frankestein?

Pretty much every reasonably well known celebrity has some kind of brand identity, whether not not they have a logo, they generally have some distinguishing features.

Dane Cook and the shocker?

Also, I'm 25 and definitely recognize the Hitchcock profile.
posted by cmoj at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2010


Walt Disney!
posted by cmoj at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2010


I think you might like Letterheady which has letterhead (and, hence logos) for some famous people. There's a designer who isn't famous like a lot of the people above but he's known for producing a personal annual report which I find interesting.
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:51 AM on January 13, 2010


More of a "brand strategy", but Woody Allen has maintained the use of Windsor-EF Elongated for his movie's titles through many decades, styles, and movie studios.
posted by smackfu at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2010


Would Dell, founded by the Dell family, count?
posted by GJSchaller at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2010


Can't believe nobody's said it yet: Stephen Colbert.
posted by Target Practice at 11:10 AM on January 13, 2010


Ralph Lauren (polo player)

Dale Earnhardt (3)

Cristiano Ronaldo (CR9)
posted by Zambrano at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2010


Bill Gates
Larry Ellison

Steve Jobs
posted by blue_beetle at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2010


Though going through quite a difficult period at the moment Tiger Woods is a huge brand all to himself.

Also, Michael Jordan, now that we're into the titans of sports.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 12:04 PM on January 13, 2010


David Bowie
posted by BurnMage at 12:35 PM on January 13, 2010


Non-logo'd celebs who have well defined personal brands:
Steve Jobs
Warren Buffet
Princess Diana
Marilyn Monroe
Richard Branson
Bono
posted by Kololo at 12:39 PM on January 13, 2010


Oh, and you might find this interview with Jeremiah Owyang interesting.
posted by Kololo at 12:45 PM on January 13, 2010


If you want an extremely recent and fast-growing person-as-brand, Lady Gaga is at least trying to be a branding tour de force. Trademarks include her NY accent, tendency to wear retro or unusual sunglasses, even in interviews, and bizarre clothes. Technically, her logo is a lightening bolt, as featured on her face in some of her videos, but I feel her other traits are more identifiable.

She's certainly leaves an impression and stands out within her field. If you want some examples of symbols associated with just her, Vigilant Citizen (a right wing conspiracy site) finds a lot of them. Not so much relevant as the clothes, shades, and lightening bolt, but it gives you a good sense of the "aura" she tries to create.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:06 PM on January 13, 2010


Also, Nthing Steve Jobs and suggesting Elton John.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:07 PM on January 13, 2010


Flavor Flav and his freakin' clock.
posted by drlith at 1:25 PM on January 13, 2010


I think the question is specifically asking for logos. Steve Jobs has a "brand" / image, but he doesn't have a logo.
posted by smackfu at 1:51 PM on January 13, 2010


I think the question is specifically asking for logos.

The OP specifically said: "if you have good examples of "logoless" personal brands (I think Einstein, Warhol, and few others mentioned above qualify here), I'd love to add them to my list."
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:54 PM on January 13, 2010


Paul Newman
posted by look busy at 2:15 PM on January 13, 2010


Hello? Is this thing still on?

Frank Zappa.

Zappa's entire life and career are totalized as his personal brand. Nearly anything he saw, heard, did, thought, or experienced was re-interpreted and added to the Zappa brand, to be recycled endlessly in arrangements (doo-wop harmonies, mallet percussion), melodies (Louie Louie, Stravinsky, et al.), lyrics (poodle, tweezers), album and marketing graphics, stage patter, liner notes, public statements, and interviews.

He called this Conceptual Continuity. Google the term and find plenty of examples and analysis.

As to logos, consider that for nearly thirty years he was never photographed or seen in public without the distinctive 'stache and soulpatch.

And now, that characteristic facial hair and even his initials are claimed as ". . . marks belonging to the Zappa Family Trust. All Rights Reserved."

It is impossible to separate the man from the brand -- as he'd intended.
posted by Herodios at 7:20 PM on February 7, 2010


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