These are just some of the many creative and persuasive great British brands that have become part of the day-to-day. We all know them, recognise the logos immediately and understand exactly what they represent.
So how have they become so integrated into our lives and so much a part of our national identity? The creators of these brands have achieved this over time by using recognisable colours, memorable taglines, idioms and icons that stand out from the crowd.
They have certainly evolved over the years, developing alongside changing preferences and design styles. But they have continued to be part of our glorious every day, representing established values we all relate to.
In no particular order here are 9 great British logos and their associated brands.
What a British icon, combining a striking and individual trademark colour with a luxurious feel and a badge of quality. First established in Birmingham in 1824 and originally purveyors of tea, coffee and drinking chocolate, Cadbury is now one of the world’s leading confectionery brands.
The brand has a rich history. Founder John Cadbury was an early believer in improving the living conditions of the working class, and was responsible for the construction of the Bournville model village. Designed to provide decent working conditions for Cadbury workers, it featured cottages with spacious gardens and room for recreation and leisure. Today, 25,000 residents still live in Bournville’s 8,000 homes.
Legend (and maybe truth) has it that the distinctive purple packaging was introduced in 1914 as a tribute to the late Queen Victoria. Almost a century later, the company applied to trademark this specific Pantone colour (Pantone 2865c), a move which was challenged by competitor Nestlé. After a protracted legal battle, the High Court eventually ruled in favour of Cadbury in 2022.
Marks & Spencer
Definitely one of Britain’s best-known brands, with a reputation for the sale of luxurious foodstuffs. The logo today is cleverly monochrome to match any campaign, colour scheme or focus, such as its famous Christmas campaigns.
The advertising concepts are geared around FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), with new and current campaigns featuring more contemporary characters like Percy Pig and Colin the Caterpillar.
M&S grew from humble beginnings in Kirkgate Market in Leeds as Marks Penny Bazaar, using the slogan ‘Don’t ask the price, it’s a Penny’! (How things have changed.)
Michael Marks soon joined forces with Tom Spencer and the pair expanded with market stalls across the North West of England. Today, M&S operates over 100 stores in the UK, many of these focused purely on food.
Still part of the fabric of the UK, M&S’s profits peaked in 1997/1998. Today, alongside other high street giants, it continues to struggle faced with the dual challenges of buying habits changed by the pandemic and the rise of online shopping.
When Henry Walker set up Walkers Crisps in 1948 he was establishing a business that by 2013 would hold 56% of the crisp market in Britain. Their long-running TV ad campaign sees BBC sports commentator Gary Lineker playing on his reputation as Leicester City FC’s greatest fan to promote the Leicester-based business.
The logo design features a yellow circle on a red wrapper, which could symbolise either a crisp in a packet or the sun and freshness all wrapped up together. The logo translates successfully to other colours representing different crisp flavours.
Alongside the Walkers UK brand, the company successfully markets as Lays in Europe and America, using the same logo style.
This well-known and respected British brand is actually now owned by American company Kimberley-Clark, but the name dates back to 1942 and originates from the location where the product was first manufactured, at St Andrew’s Mill in Walthamstow.
Did you know it was developed from a disposable gentleman’s handkerchief product, exclusive to Harrods department store in London?
We’ve all grown up with the adorable Andrex Labrador retriever puppy, born in 1972, who continues as the ‘face’ of the brand today.
The logo, which has remained largely unchanged for many years, creates a soft appearance with two curved lines bending into the wording. In addition, the brand is synonymous with the words ‘soft’, ‘clean’ and ‘fresh’, which are used repeatedly in point of sale and advertising materials.
Back in 1998, Innocent Drinks was originally founded by three Cambridge University students as an initiative to make money at music festivals. Now 90% owned by The Coca Cola Company, the brand sells over two million pure fruit smoothies every week via 11,000 outlets.
With a reputation as a healthy option made from natural ingredients, the brand uses a natural colour scheme and a logo which depicts a face with a halo above it. The brand image has remained the same for more than two decades, reflecting a childlike innocence in its representation.
Innocent Drinks successfully associates with positive concepts like sustainability, addressing social issues and helping charities, with 10% of their profits donated to charities around the world.
Dr Martens (Doc Martens or DMs)
Originally marketed as a practical work boot, Dr Martens boots have undergone a number of styles and trend patterns. Once the ‘go to’ boot of the skinhead, they are now the choice of the design conscious, worn by celebrities, demonstrating how a brand can reinvent itself repeatedly.
Originally a German company, a British shoe manufacturer bought the rights to produce the footwear in the UK as early as 1959. They carried out some minor design amends to further improve the fit and added the trademarked yellow stitching. Production is now exclusively overseas.
Yellow on black features prominently on the branding as it does in the stitching on the boots, with the logo symbolising a Dr Martens boot. The brand keeps current and has recently introduced a new vegan range using materials that are 100% not of animal origin.
Who can forget James Dyson and his totally new take on traditional products? The story goes that prompted by his inefficient vacuum cleaner, James Dyson developed a totally new concept in his shed back in the 1970s, designed around a cyclone of air.
Today, Dyson is the name behind a multi-national business focused on home appliances, from washers and bladeless fans to hair dryers. With a logo stylised to represent a vacuum cleaner, the designers have adopted a simplistic and futuristic font style to more accurately reflect the company’s commitment to new technology and innovative ideas.
From small beginnings in a record shop in London’s Notting Hill Gate, Virgin has developed into a mega-brand under the guidance of its founder, the charismatic Richard Branson. Today, the brand encompasses travel including airlines and trains plus an offshoot exploring personal space travel.
The Virgin Media brand saw Virgin move into the field of superfast broadband, offering TV, landline and mobile deals. Today, Virgin is a British multinational capital conglomerate operating under the Virgin Group umbrella company, with interests in more than 60 businesses and a turnover approaching 17 billion in 2019.
The signature style of the Virgin logo gives it a personal feel, added to the simplicity which means it works well for a brand that covers a diverse range of businesses from music and travel to finance. Choice of red as the prime colour reflects a thrill-seeking approach which is rich, active and bold.
Coincidentally also starting life in a small shop in Notting Hill, Cath Kidston has a reputation as a ‘joyful British brand’ combining traditional prints and concepts with products designed around real life.
With a reputation for being ‘quintessentially British’, Cath Kidston products now sell in over 40 countries across the globe. It’s a celebration of the best of British culture and heritage, featuring beautiful English garden roses and icons like London buses.
With the brand best known for its florals and polka dots, the logo is a relatively simple and clean signature style which works well against busier backgrounds. The script styling gives it a personal and individual feel.
Across Great Britain, we have an assortment of powerful and recognisable brands, working both on our high streets and online. Their creators work hard to keep their identities individual and in front of us, with stories ranging from Twitter spats about caterpillar cakes to the launch of new and innovative products on a worldwide stage.
What great British logos do you think are missing from the list? Let us know in the comments below.