We all know the Virgin logo: a blobby diagonal scrawl in scarlet that looks like a hot girl’s phone number written in lipstick on the back of a napkin. But the so-called ‘napkin’ logo wasn’t actually Virgin’s first logo–it debuted in 1977, five years after Virgin Records was founded.
Surprisingly, that logo has changed a lot over the last three decades, and over on the official site for Virgin, the company details the evolution of its iconic logo.
The original logo was about as early-’70s as you could get. Designed by the great English artist and illustrator Roger Dean, it featured a naked set of Siamese Twins lounging in front of a dead tree with a dragon by their side, its tail fluttering suggestively between their legs. It’s usually known as the Gemini Logo, and it was awesomely prog rock, but now it feels pretty dated… something Richard Branson figured out in 1977, when he signed the Sex Pistols to his label, only to realize that it was totally inappropriate for a punk label.
So Branson opted to replace it with the handwritten logo, which was edgier and looked more like something you might see scrawled on the wall of a club. Virgin likes to play it coy about the actual creation of this logo–they maintain that the origin story of a young designer scribbling the logo on the back of a napkin is an “urban myth,” yet won’t go into any more detail–but whatever the logo’s provenance, it has seen various refinements over the years: from a napkin scrawl, to a spray painted version in the ’80s, to the current logo, which confusingly uses a custom script called (but having nothing to do with) NASA to maintain uniformity across Virgin’s many brands.
If you’re interested in the evolution of logos, and how even seemingly ‘iconic’ designs can be radically tweaked over time, check out Virgin’s post for more. Personally, though, I think it’s about time for a return of Dean’s logo, especially on the side of a Virgin Galactic spaceship. Don’t you?