The 80s is defined as a decade of bigness - be that shoulder pads, hairstyles or brand colour palettes. Mixing many bright colours and heavily stylised typefaces created an exciting genre with lots of opportunities to push the boundaries.

The bulk of memorable global brands were created in the US as there was a mature, active and diverse design community already in place. Ongoing progress in digital communication gave us many firsts and it was especially television that gave us so much new design content that tapped into this. Here are our top five logos, born in the 80s:


CNN Logo

1980: CNN

CNN (Cable News Network) was created as a news focused channel in 1980. The logo took just 48 hours to create as they were in a hurry to get things off the ground. Designed by Anthony Guy Bost, who had just two days to create a set of options before presenting to the television executives. The winning design is pretty much the same today and was the favourite of all the options with everyone getting excited about the visual concept of the cable running through the letters. The design is clean and simple with a clever twist - key components for brand longevity.


1981: Music Television

With the launch of a 24 hour music TV channel, came an explosion of youthful and vernacular graphic design. Apart from the mass of music videos that became available, it also gave us access to genres of music and culture that were not easily available. The logo was bright and colourful with a spray-paint styled TV on top of a 3-dimensional M graphic, echoing the vernacular and youthful brand personality. The words under the logo were eventually dropped and the brand morphed to quickly become known as just MTV.


1983: AT&T

Created by the very great Saul Bass in 1983, the AT&T logo is a timeless and classic piece of graphic design. Previously the icon had been a bell so this was a bold move forward for the company. Over time the logo was lovingly referred to as the Death Star logo (referencing the Star Wars movies). The logo has since been refined and simplified but remains pretty much in tact.


1983: Scandinavian Airlines

This logo is a typical 1980s corporate design using a bright 1980s colour palette that is of course based on the flags of the countries in Scandinavia. The typography is a gentle evolution of earlier logo styles with the addition of a gold drop shadow, also a typical 80s design feature. The logo has since been simplified and gone through various permutations but the typography has been retained as a sign of provenance in the brand.


1984: Miami Vice

This is a true 1980s design with an Art Deco style to reflect the Miami location of this famous American TV detective series. Bright, almost clashing colours, stylised font and a drop shadow creates a lot of visual impact and a real sense of fun. 


The 1980s gave us lots of energy and experimentation, showing how maximalism can be commercially successful. Branding, and the value placed on it, continued to rise quickly during the 1980s although the overt bright and busy design styles didn't last into the 90s. As seen on the CNN and AT&T branding, yet again, the classic design elements of simplicity and a good visual trick delivers longevity.

Interested to take a look at our top five logos from the 1970s? Click here