Anatomy of a Logo: The Star Wars Logo Evolution by Alex Jay
I had no idea so many variations were used prior to the famous final logo designed by Suzi Rice.
I’m not going to expand or even attempt to belittle Alex’s post, except to very briefly summarise the key stages in the Star Wars logo design evolution.
For the full detailed commentary, with lots of photos visit Alex’s post a breathtaking examination of the Star Wars branding:
My plan is that I’m going to pick one image from Alex’s post that is representative of each the logos iteration. This post is brief, but hopefully shows you a quick look at how the logo evolved.
Logo #1: Film’s pre-production decal
During the film’s pre-production, a decal (above) was produced. In the first Official Star Wars Fan Club newsletter, reprinted in the Star Wars Scrapbook (Chronicle Books, 1991), there was an explanation about the decal by Ralph McQuarrie, who did the art.
Logo #2: Corporate Letterhead Version
Notice that the figure & sun illustration, from Ralphs first decal, was still used with the new lettering designed by Joe, for the letterhead.
Below: Banner with the revised logo with a super young Mark Hamill at the 1976 San Diego Comic Con.
Logo #3: Book Cover art using Helvetica
Yes it’s true! Helvetica even made it into a Star Wars logo.
In December 1976, a novelization of Lucas’s screenplay, ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster, was published by Ballantine Books. The cover art was by McQuarrie and the cover fonts are from the Helvetica family.
Logo #4: Vanishing Point Logo
The 4th variation of the Star Wars logo was designed by Dan Perri, which was meant to be used for the opening sequence, but it was not used.
Instead, it was used for various print posters and advertisements.
This is where we start to see the more familiar look of the modern day Star Wars logo, but it took 2 more designers to end up with the final Star Wars logo.
Logo #5: The New Star Wars Logo
This is where we get to the more familiar version of the Star Wars logo, and this version was designed by Suzi Race.
“…Though the poster contained no painted imagery, it did introduce a new logo to the campaign, one that had been designed originally for the cover of a Fox brochure sent to theater owners….Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look “very fascist.”
“I’d been reading a book the night before the meeting with George Lucas,” she says, “a book about German type design and the historical origins of some of the popular typefaces used today—how they developed into what we see and use in the present.” After Lucas described the kind of visual element he was seeking, “I returned to the office and used what I reckoned to be the most ‘fascist’ typeface I could think of: Helvetica Black.”
Inspired by the typeface, Rice developed a hand-drawn logo that translated well to the poster campaign, and ultimately to the movie itself. “I did have the screen in mind when I drew the logo originally,” explains Rice, who “stacked and squared” the words to better fit the brochure cover. It was an aesthetic choice that has lasted nearly three decades.
The now-familiar “S” ligature extensions that Rice drew were modified a bit after Lucas “remarked that it read like ‘Tar Wars,’” says Rice. “He asked me to make some revisions on the leading and concluding ‘S’.
Logo #6: The New Star Wars Logo Revised
Although Suzi Race is credited for designing the Star Wars logo, it did take a few tweaks from Joe Johnston to create the final final version of the Star Wars logo.
The most noticeable change being to the W, along with some other lettering tweaks.
Suzi’s version top, and Joe’s version bottom:
So there we sort of have it.
I’ve literally condensed down Alex jay’s comprehensive breakdown into just a few images, but you really must visit Alex’s thorough post to see all many images and explanations for each of the versions.