With “billions and billions served,” it probably is not a stretch to say that over 90 percent of the world’s population has eaten something from McDonald’s at one time or another. Founded in the mid-1950s, this quintessential fast-food restaurant has the most recognizable brand of them all (arguably). Today, McDonald’s serves 70 million people every day in 120 countries. The golden arch is a logo that perfectly captures the brand.
Although this retail giant formed at the turn of the century, the familiar Target brand logo did not appear until the 1960s. The red bullseye has always featured strongly in the primary image, although it has undergone changes over the decades since its inception. Formerly, the company name was across the red bullseye; in the next incarnation, the Target name was to the right of the dot. In the 2000s, the name was beneath the dot, and the current symbol, as of 2007, eschews the Target name altogether and features the bold red bullseye.
Named after the Greek goddess of victory, Nike started out in the 1960s as Blue Ribbon Sports, until Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman changed the name and adopted the now extremely famous Swoosh symbol. With annual revenue of well over $20 billion, Nike is the largest manufacturer of athletic apparel in the world. Estimates put the worth of the logo alone at just under $20 billion.
This is the first non-English brand on this list, and not too many car enthusiasts even know what BMW means. Bayerische Motoren Werke translates to Bavarian Motor Works, and the now elite automobile manufacturer exploded onto the scene in the late 1910s with its little-changed logo. The circular form bearing the BMW tag has remained through the years, and it has become synonymous with on-road luxury and class.
Originally entitled “Federal Express Corporation” upon its founding in the 1970s, this global courier service ditched its full name in 2000 and just goes by FedEx these days. It is also one of the few logos on this list structured entirely around the company name. FedEx is easily one of the biggest companies in the world with annual revenue twice that of Nike.
You do not have to be a kid to recognize the importance of the Walt Disney Company, incorporated in the 1920s as the Disney Cartoon Studio. Its logo is simultaneously artistic and practical; it is the name “Disney” written in a sort of pseudo-cursive handwriting. The brand exudes an air of childlike wonder and fun, which is indicative of Disney’s trademark theme parks and media entertainment empire.
“Soft drink giant” aptly describes Pepsi. Although it is just one of the products of parent company PepsiCo, this dark, carbonated beverage is by far the most recognizable product. Since it is just a red, white, and blue globe, it would be difficult to tell what it stood for if the Pepsi logotype did not appear along with it. Pepsi shares the stage just about equally with its primary competitor, Coca-Cola; you cannot see one without thinking of the other.
Apple Incorporated is arguably the most successful modern brand from the company created in the late 1970s by late design visionary Steve Jobs, and his friends Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. This hundred-billion dollar company was recently deemed the world’s most valuable company precisely because of consumer loyalty to the iconic bitten apple that serves as Apple Inc’s logo. With an annual revenue in excess of $233 billion in 2015, Apple easily surpasses any other single company, and everyone who sees the logo knows the company, even though a logotype is nowhere in sight.