Different Star Wars Logos Through the Years
Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
George Lucas wanted a fascist look here. He pulled inspiration from multiple fascist dictatorships to form his evil Galactic Empire, so he wanted the logo to be just as intimidating.
Lucas approached Suzy Rice, who had been studying 1930s German design for some time. This led to her using the typography design from Nazi propaganda posters for the initial Star Wars logo.
She used these design techniques to form the famous Star Wars logo that would pave its way into the design world for decades. Joe Johnston made the very final logo for this particular one.
Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
This logo hit the nail on the head. The design was conceived during the film’s marketing campaign to communicate the name of the sequel to A New Hope. It features a fantastic element and one that conveys a sense of adventure.
The Empire Strikes Back became the focal point of the logo, officially establishing "Star Wars" as a root name in the visual profile of a film franchise. The enclosed frame around the logo gives it a different vibe. It is tidy and resembles a stamp on each poster. The angled text is streamlined, expressing speed and adventure while differentiating the sequel from the original film.
This version was designed by Ralph McQuarrie, who finalized the logo after playing with some radical concepts before arriving at the final draft.
Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
Things have significantly changed since the OG logo. They pulled off the Empire Strikes Back logo, but the look of the third logo stuck for the prequel trilogy that followed in the early 2000s. Although the Times New Roman font is not the unique route, its simplicity delivered something compelling from a design solution perspective.
This logo style emphasizes the film title. While the neat execution of its aesthetics did away with the closed border of The Empire Strikes Back, an open frame at the top and bottom of the movie title was added here.
Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
The following three sets of films over a decade since the Return of the Jedi stayed consistent with the last Star Wars logo. You’ll notice how the Phantom Menace logo gets more details if you put them side by side. It has more shine to it and more contemporary components. The significant difference between the earlier logos and this one is that the episode name is now the primary attraction. This is another efficient design move to a somewhat complex “prequel” scenario.
Film producers needed to fill the gaps and clarify that it was the first chronological episode, going back to the story's beginning. Reinforcing the episode title helped audiences understand the position of the story.
It’s an intriguing study of the design cues of the logo and how much can be communicated in just one symbol. The relatively long title is easily understandable in this case. Ultimately, Rice’s original Star Wars design stayed on top of everything with a new metallic update that follows the sci-fi theme. (Take a look at the Disney logo here).
Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The subsequent two sequels followed a similar format, released three years after The Phantom Menace. Here, you’ll find consistency in the design, employing the same collage format and feel. Technology also stretched the logo to a more enhanced design at this point.
The Revenge of the Sith poster is slightly more sinister and action-packed than the two earlier episodes, connecting a culmination and focus on the film's darker path. Many best movie poster designs nod to the execution of this batch of logos due to its simplicity and ability to send a straightforward but in-tune message.
Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
Another decade after the Revenge of the Sith, the movie franchise returns with a bang. This meant another major logo transformation occurred.
Nevertheless, Rice’s design is still present here. They did away with the borders, episode numbers were ditched and the words “Star Wars” became the centerpiece. The yellow Star Wars font returns to the sci-fi feel of the prequels from the early 2000s, and it’s easy to see why it’s become the most recognizable out of all the previous releases. It’s a good design with legible cues that highlight the franchise name.
Star Wars Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)
It’s interesting to observe the symbolic color choice of the final trilogy logos. The earlier movie used a yellow logo to represent the light. This time, red denoted the dark side. The color change of the logos works well in tune with the films while effectively communicating the themes and modulation of each one.
Star Wars Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
The same design persists up to the ninth installment of the Star Wars franchise. But this time, it differentiates itself from the other two with a blue Star Wars font. This particular visual cue aligns the focus on the Skywalker lineage, starting with Anakin Skywalker, who’s associated with a blue lightsaber passed down to Luke in Episode IV.
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