Logo history

List of topics available for papers or lectures
in French or English

LOGO Genealogy

History of identity and trade marks, from neolithic till now

Long version: 2 hours & around 120 slides.
Short version: 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previous lectures

  • 8 january 2024: Bellecour Ecole, Lyon, France.
  • 13 december 2023: Epitech, Lyon, France.
  • 8 december 2023: Cergy Paris University, Paris, France.
  • 21 october 2022: Cergy Paris University, Paris, France.
  • 15 novembre 2021: Graphéine, Lyon, France.
  • 30 avril 2021: Istituto Europeo di Design, Milano, Italy.
  • 8 mars 2021: Les amis du Musée de l’Imprimerie & de la Communication Graphique de Lyon, Archives départementales, Lyon, France.
  • 24 avril 2019 : Le Signe, Chaumont, France.
  • 16 avril 2019: École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art, Paris, France.

Graphic design is a relatively recent professional discipline, yet if the separation between design and production took place progressively around the second half of the 19th century, the productions and supports of this practice have a much earlier history. Among the histories of books, posters and typography, it is worth noting the absence of a history of Logos.

Firstly, we will research the history of the logo as we know it, in order to trace the emblems and graphic marks that have influenced it. Secondly, we will highlight the common components of this genealogy: territoriality, narration and filiation.

Finally, we will attempt to answer the question: “Does a logo serve to distinguish itself? Identity marks (or emblems), such as commercial ones, have been constructed according to a graphic syntax allowing both recognition and inscription in a globality. In the same way that language aims at expression and not singularity via the construction of a language, the identity mark, then the commercial mark, is anchored in this logic. By becoming a logo, the brand loses its generative syntax to become a system of graphic style, each economic and cultural sector typifying its brand according to stylistic norms with shared informal denotations.

emblem & logo

From the court emblem, the battlefield to the trade mark

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #263, september-october 2021

Mon are traditionnal japanese emblems appeared a thousand years ago in order to identify the Emperor and the nobility, mostly during the battle and the various wars. The emblems took a great place in the japanese culture in order to be applyed on shinto shrines and temples, as well for commerce and industry. Mon share a great interest in the references for logo modernism. 

  • From the colored standard to mon
  • The family mark on the battlefield
  • Divine protection & honnor to the Emperor
  • Identification
  • Religious symbolism
  • Popular & commercial pratices
  • Creation
  • Influence & marriage
  • Japanese logo (Mitsubishi, Kikkoman, Yamaha)
  • Katachi

seals from antiquity

Genesis of the logos

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #265,
    january-february 2022

While domesticating the land and the animals, the man needs to identify his property. The invention of a graphic symbol as an emblem is the first appearance of a graphic system, before ciphers, before wryting.

But this private use evolved to become the emblem of a deity, emblem of a king, then of a city. The diplomatic use draw the pratice of an identity mark becoming also a social marker, a validation mark preserving the integrity of a good.

Because tracing the history of the first emblems and trade marks is tracing the silhouette of the evolution of the human relationship, its exchange, its expectations.

  • Ornaments of identity: prehistoric seals
  • Sealed logos: image, writing, authority
  • Stamped logos: titulus pictus

médieval marks

The trading identity

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #267,
    may-june 2022

In the medieval house, the hearth is the heart of the home, allowing everyone to live in rudimentary conditions while cooking meals. Some scholars report that the Germanic peoples used to engrave a sign made up of geometric shapes, sometimes runes, on one of the beams near the fire. This mark is said to have the ability to ward off bad luck, which is the only cause of fire or other disasters.
Different according to the house, they would have become marks of identity and property that the members of a family would reproduce on their house, their goods, their livestock, and even on their handicrafts. Presented as a superstition, the hypothesis nevertheless sheds light on numerous practices linking commercial marks and popular beliefs.

  • Merchants’ marks: from hearth to bundle
  • Stonemasons’ marks: the identity glyph
  • Printer’s marks: the invention of the logotype


the embodied animal

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #257,
    september-october 2020

We see them on posters, in commercials or in logos. Wild or pet, we imagine them as predators, clever or even capricious… The animals used by graphic designers are never more than a reflection of our human desires. And when Man dons the costume of an Animal, he becomes a mascot whose grotesque attitudes resemble those of a comic book or cartoon creature. Mascot is a catch-all word with a wider meaning than just a costume.

  • Mascot: the origin of a good luck charm
  • Modern mascot: personification for youth
  • Mascot: golden age
  • Postmodern mascot: the virtual embodied
  • Mascot or totem?


The fame in cyphers

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previous lectures

26 october 2022: ECV Paris, France

Previously published

  • Etapes: #269,
    september-october 2022

In antiquity, the monogram denotes of the passage from word to abbreviation by contraction, then to the ideogram.
The value of this system of signs traces the current trajectory of a spiritual or divine mark or divine mark extending to the whole society through the figures of authority political, ecclesiastical, commercial and finally popular. It then remains for the privileged social class to adorn itself with a new system of signs. a new system of signs.

  • Abbreviation
  • Nomina Sacra
  • Chrism & christogram
  • Roman, byzantian monogram
  • Western monograms in medieval times
  • Cyphers
  • Trademarks


Cattle & human marks in the flesh

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #271,
    february 2023

Branding applied to humans is a constant reversal of reference points: divine and symbolic in sacred texts, it becomes an act of submission when it is forced. Consented, it becomes an initiatory rite within a social group, when it is not a symbolic act sending the human back to the animal. The mark inscribed in the flesh affirms the performative power that the society carries to the graphic sign: the sign attests of an act and alters the value that the society carries to the animal, that is to say also to the human. Today, bodies free of consenting signs are increasingly rare. The skin has become a space of expression as much as the body film that one seeks to reappropriate. Marking the epidermis is as much an initiation rite as a way to affirm one’s identity, to do one’s own branding.

  • Branding the flesh : protection
  • Branding the creature : identity & property
  • Brading the human creature : infamy & submission