I was looking through some reference books earlier, ones I've looked through a million times, but never really read. Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the stories and background info I came across...
Penguin logo we all know and love was originally designed by 21 year old office worker, Edward Young in 1934. He was sent to London Zoo by the publisher, Allan Lane to sketch penguins, which formed the early logo. It was 15 years later (in 1949) that the Jan Tschibold version was created.
Bass boast that their red triangle is, 'The World's most famous trademark' and although there is no proof of this, it was the first British Registered Trademark.
Guinness first used the O'Neill harp (or Brian Boru harp) alongside their signature in 1862. It originally had 27 strings, but for design reasons this number was reduced over time first to 18, in the 50's and finally to 10 in the 60's.
When Ireland became an independent nation in 1922 they chose the O'Neil harp as the official Irish symbol, however because of copyright issues they had to reverse their version.
Goodyear was originally inspired by a statue of Mercury in founder, Frank A Seiberling's childhood home. It has been their trademark since 1900.
Elf turned to a computer to choose their name. Elf was chosen from 8,253,000 three, four and five-letter combinations. Their simple, bold logo was then designed by Jean-Roger Rioux in 1966.
For more information about the history and background to classic logos and trademarks, have a look at Marks of Excellence: The history and taxonomy of trademarks. It really is a great book.
All information from Marks of Excellence.