There’s perhaps no other fruit quite as imagery-laden as the apple: The story of the Garden of Eden, Isaac Newton and gravity, Johnny Appleseed seeding the land, New York City’s nickname. It’s evocative of knowledge, technology, creation, and more, with just a tiny bit of sin thrown in. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that a company named after an Apple would prove to be wildly successful—so wildly successful that they’ve pretty much reinvented the term “success.”
Indeed, Apple’s first logo, designed when the company first launched back in 1976, featured a grandiose, Dürer-type drawing of Newton sitting under the apple tree. (Robert Wayne, the logo’s artist, helped launch Apple with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. In what turned out to be perhaps the worst business decision ever made, he left the company shortly thereafter, selling his 10% stake for a mere $800.)
As you might expect, the elaborate design lasted a year. After all, over the last forty years the company has become synonymous with simplicity on a large scale. You wouldn’t ever expect anything less from their logo. Jobs then commissioned graphic designer Rob Janoff to come up with something more modern to represent the company, and Janoff delivered in a big-way, creating a logo that would become nothing less than an icon.
According to a piece a few years ago in CNN, there was a story that the Apple logo was a tribute to Alan Turing, the inventor of a code-breaking machine during World War II that served as a precursor to computers. Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a recent, award-winning movie, was believed to have committed suicide by biting into an apple laced with cyanide. Thus, the apple with one bite gone was chosen by Apple founders as a tribute to the man who helped lay the foundation for modern-day computers.
Unfortunately, this story is as much a fairy tale as the one with Snow White and the poisoned apple. (What IS it about apples?)
Janoff, the designer, obviously designed the logo around the company’s name and said he added the bite so that the apple wouldn’t be mistaken for a cherry or a tomato. The CNN article states that he was later pleased by the coincidental overlap of “bite” and “byte.” The rainbow stripes were said to be Jobs idea, to represent “humanity,” and Janoff said that, while there was no reason for the order of the colors, he did put green first so that the apple’s leaf would be green.
The apple lost its colors in 1998, a year after Steve Jobs returned to helm the company. It wasn’t that Jobs drained all of the color from the company (though you may find employees that beg to differ), but he felt that the multi-colored apple was now too childish. Furthermore, Apple was hemorrhaging money at that point and Jobs needed to transform the company. He wanted the logo to reflect the company’s focus on sleek, stylish, modern, cutting-edge products. Hence, the monochromatic apple:
Apple has kept its logo’s shape the same for the last 38 years, changing only the color as needed to best represent its direction and products. The logo has always skillfully branded the company with no need for the company name to be used. If you look at it now, you can almost see an “i” in the apple, representing the iMac, iPhone, iPad and so many past and future Apple innovations.
Apple has millions of loyal followers—an occult of believers. Whatever the apple truly represents, it seems that once you take a bite, you are entirely theirs.