Logos for companies, organizations and the occasional evil empire from sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies.
Logos are everywhere. Every company worth their salt has one. Every rock band, sports team and yes, entertainment companies and their movies too. But what about within the fictional universe of the movies themselves? Turns out organizations in films often get branded as well, with logos representing everything from evil corporations to freedom-loving resistance fighters in a galaxy far, far away. Without further adieu, here’s a look at some of our favorite fictional film logos, from the very popular and contemporary, to obscure classics from days gone by.
Known as “The No-Ghost Sign,” this logo has been being used throughout the Ghostbusters franchise in one form or another since the first film in 1984. It was designed by writer/producer Michael C. Gross and is based on a universal “no” sign in Europe (in North America, the bar is in the opposite direction.)Harvey Famous Cartoons sued Columbia Pictures over the use of the emblem, which bears some resemblance to Fatso, one of the characters in Casper The Friendly Ghost. The suit was for $50 million, however it was dropped in 1986. As the movie was released during an election year, the “no-ghost” logo found its way into many political campaigns showing up on buttons, shirts, stickers, ripping on political opponents – Reaganbusters and Fritzbusters paraphernalia were a common sight. The franchise featured several variants of the Gross original art, notably for Ghostbusters 2. When the Ghostbusters 2 logo was designed for the animated sequel intro, it originally featured a two-legged ghost stepping through the circle (left.)
The original artwork for that logo was lost, had to be recreated, and when printed on pre-release marketing materials the ghost in the new version only had one leg (above right.) Most of the Ghostbusters 2 logos you’ll find today are the one-legged variety, with most corrected logos having been created by fans.There’s been some on-again, off-again talk of a Ghostbusters 3 reboot (it’s off again) for years now and subsequently, there’s tons of Ghostbusters III logos kicking about the web, most featuring a central ghost holding up three fingers rather than two. There’s never been an official 3 logo released and all this artwork – some of it remarkable – is unofficial, having been generated by fans of the series.
As this is the 30th anniversary for the movie, an official celebratory logo was created for addition to new merch, but producers avoided using a custom three-fingered ghost (which might have been cool,) returning instead to the original logo for their source material.
Back To The Future: Mr. Fusion.
“In the final scene of Back to the Future (1985) we are introduced to an interesting new piece of hardware from the future, the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor. Its purpose was a throw-away joke at the end of a movie that wasn’t expected to spawn a sequel. Its in-universe purpose was to offer a safer, more energy-efficient alternative to the Plutonium required earlier in the film to power the DeLorean‘s time circuits. As Mr. Fusion operates on garbage, it was clearly a futuristic, eco-friendly alternative.”
Source“The Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor was the name of a power source used by the DeLorean time machine. The actual unit was manufactured by Fusion Industries. Also known as the fusion generator, the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor converted household waste to power the time machine’s flux capacitor and time circuits using nuclear fusion. (It is thought that this is cold fusion.) Mr. Fusion allowed the DeLorean time machine to generate the required 1.21 gigawatts to travel through the space-time continuum.”
Phantom Of The Paradise: Death Records.
From the 1974 cult classic Phantom of the Paradise, Death Records was the antagonist Swan‘s record label in the film. The label was originally to be called “Swan Song”, but this was abandoned due to the existence of Led Zeppelin‘s label of the same name in real life. A sign featuring the original unedited Swan Song logo can be seen in several scenes from within Swan’s nightclub The Paradise including a towel rock-singer Beef is wearing when he is getting into the shower on opening night and several brief shots of signs within The Paradise.
The dead bird in the design kept in line with similar imagery from the movie – the names Phoenix and Swan, the Phantom’s bird-like costume, Phoenix’s dress after her first appearance, her feather jacket, Swan’s bird vest and Beef’s bird tail during his final and ultimately deadly number. For what it’s worth, the movie recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with a cast and crew reunion party. The artwork for that event was outstanding:This is a personal fave and like this logo so much, I’ll probably do a follow-up post sometime in the future.
Terminator: Cyberdine Systems
Sci-fi fans will recognize Cyberdine as the company behind Skynet, the super computer that became “aware” in the Terminator franchise, shortly before declaring war on mankind. Most of the Cyberdyne logos lying around the internet are fan mash-ups so there’s little consistency with typography and font selection. On most screengrabs from the Terminator series movies, the company name is spelled out in a one-lined serif font and does not include the graphic portion.For an accurate portrayal of the Cyberdyne triangular icon, we can refer to the Universal Terminator 2:3D ride that features a tour of the Cyberdyne facility as part of the presentation (above) as well as numerous references during the audio-visuals.
Alien: Weylan(d) Yutani
Every sci-fi franchise needs an evil corporation to send heroes into harm’s way, usually in the name of profit, and the Alien series is no different. In the universe inhabited by our favorite face-hugger, the honor belongs to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Weyland-Yutani was originally named Weylan-Yutani, the original name having been dreamt up by Ron Cobb, one of the designers of the spaceship in Alien (Nostromo) and its crew’s uniforms.
“One of the things I enjoyed most about Alien was its subtle satirical content. Science fiction films offer golden opportunities to throw in little scraps of information that suggest enormous changes in the world. There’s a certain potency in those kinds of remarks. Weylan Yutani for instance is almost a joke, but not quite. I wanted to imply that poor old England is back on its feet and has united with the Japanese, who have taken over the building of spaceships the same way they have now with cars and supertankers. In coming up with a strange company name I thought of British Leyland and Toyota, but we couldn’t use “Leyland-Toyota” in the film. Changing one letter gave me “Weylan,” and “Yutani” was a Japanese neighbor of mine.” – Ron Cobb.
The original spelling of the Company’s name was Weylan Yutani (note that there was no D in the name). At no time in Alien nor in the portfolio was the name of the company spelled with a D. This was changed to “Weyland-Yutani” in Aliens.
When James Cameron was assigned to write and direct the sequel to Alien, the role and significance of Weyland-Yutani increased greatly, becoming an indispensable element in Alien lore. The original Weyland-Yutani logo was an Egyptian winged-sun emblem; it was modified to its current corporo-industrial interlocked W/Y for Aliens. Weyland-Yutani is also featured prominently in Scott’s more recent Prometheus (as this is a prequel, the company is just The Weyland Corporation) as well as the Alien vs. Predator series.
Bladerunner: The Tyrell Corporation
This logo for Bladerunner‘s Tyrell Corporation may be a bit of an internet fan embellishment so I did a little bit of ferreting around to find out what’s what. In the movie, the only place that the design shows up is on the bathrobe of Dr. Eldon Tryell during a scene in which he’s arguing with a robotic owl (which happens to be featured in the logo itself.)
The Blade Runner universe is full of fantastic background logos and imagery, most of which were designed by production illustrator Tom Southwell and he was, for years, credited with designing this particular mark. That was before he denied that in an online Q & A, saying only that the owl on the robe was “probably” designed by “one of the costume designers.”
To complicate matters, there’s another designer by the name of Jay Vigon who worked on some preliminary design work for Bladerunner as well. One of his sketches for the marquee logo features the owl and looks remarkably like the design we’re talking about.
Resident Evil: Umbrella Corporation
The logo for Umbrella Corporation (or Umbrella Corp,) an eeevil bioengineering and pharmaceutical company, first appeared in the Resident Evil video game series by Capcom and in the later film crossovers. According to Resident Evil lore, the Umbrella logo was based on the family coat of arms belonging to the company’s fictional founder Oswell E. Spencer and consisted of an octagon divided into twelve segments: six red and six white.
The logo is a graphic representation of a bird’s eye view of an umbrella and is supposed to represent protection for those beneath it. Many fans have noted the similarity of the design to the Templar’s cross.
Star Wars: The Empire
According to George Lucas, the empire from Star Wars was largely based on the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, although Asimov’s empire was depicted as a benign government.
The Galactic Empire was also influenced by Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi Germany and a lot of the imagery was derived from it; the Imperial Stormtroopers resemble the German stormtroopers and share their name. Red, black and white – the most recognized colors of the Empire – were also the colors of the Nazi Blutfahne.
The Imperial crest was designed by John Mollo, who was the costume designer for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. In the Q&A feature of the 98th issue of Star Wars Insider magazine, Mollo revealed that he based the Imperial insignia on shapes used in 18th century fortifications.
Star Wars: The Rebel Alliance
Star Wars universe nerdy stuff: The Alliance Starbird, also known as The Phoenix, was the insignia of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. It adorned the flight helmets of a number of Rebel pilots during the Galactic Civil War and was based on the Marek family crest to honor Galen Marek, the former apprentice to Darth Vader.
The Starbird represents the Alliance rising from the Galactic Empire that it swore to topple. The logo was first seen in the original Star Wars movie, most notably on X-wing fighter pilot helmets (Y-wing pilots had different versions) including, of course, that of Luke Skywalker.
Andrew Ainsworth and his company Shepperton Design Studios produced most of the original helmets and armor for Star Wars back in 1976. Interesting to note that Ainsworth was later sued by Lucasfilm for the production and sale of unauthorized prop replicas from the film.
In Toy Story, The Dinoco Gas Station is the place where Andy’s family car stops on its way to Pizza Planet. In Cars, Dinoco is an oil company run by Tex Dinoco that sponsors the Piston Cup and is the main sponsor of Strip “The King” Weathers. The Dinoco name and logo appear on a lighter on WALL•E‘s shelf in the movie of the same name.The company’s logo is a dinosaur, but with an Apatosaurus in Toy Story and a Tyrannosaurus in Cars (a reference to Sinclair Oil, which uses a very similar dinosaur logo).
“Omni Consumer Products (OCP) is a fictional corporatocratic megacorporation in the RoboCop franchise. OCP is a modern example of the longstanding trope of the evil megacorporation in science fiction. OCP, throughout its depictions in the RoboCop films, has sought to fully privatize a dystopian Detroit, Michigan, into “Delta City”, a manufactured municipality governed by a corporatocracy, with fully privatized services – such as police – and with residents exercising their representative citizenship through the purchase of shares of OCP stock. They also serve as part of the military–industrial complex.”
Fun Fact: OCP was named #3 in a Time feature on the Top Ten Evil Corporations in Movies.