The History of the Pepsi Logo


© History Oasis

Spanning over a century of visual evolution, the Pepsi logo encodes the history of American consumer culture in stylized iconography.

Tracing the brand's symbolic transformations from pharmacy trademark to global emblem, themes of tradition and reinvention reveal tensions at the heart of capitalist mythmaking.

Across the decades, this deceptively simple sphere distills the essence of Pepsi's commercial legend—selling the familiar thrill of the new.


logo of Brad's Drink
Source: PepsiCo

Caleb Bradshaw's original 1893 Brad's Drink logo, which I've dubbed the "Genesis Script Logo," marks the humble beginnings of what would later become the iconic Pepsi brand.

As a pharmacist attempting to formulate an alternative drink for morphine addicts, Bradshaw was likely not envisioning building one of the most recognizable consumer brands in history. Yet this initial symbol laid the groundwork.

At this early stage, the logo is remarkably refined for a startup tonic business.

Crafted in an elegant, flowing blue serif typeface, the capital cursive letterforms display Bradshaw's desire to imbue a sense of sophistication into his product from inception.

The elongated ascenders and descenders exhibit dynamic motion, hinting at the drink's presumed invigorating properties.

Notice the delicate curvature and thin strokes applied throughout, culminating in the exquisite swash details on letters like the capital "B" and "D." This level of ornate artistry was unprecedented for a pharmacy-born remedy of the era.

Placing this finely-wrought script against a crisp white backdrop further elevates the logo's premium stylistic aims.

The slender rectangular border enclosing the wordmark adds a final decorative flourish, with its rhythmic line contours bringing visual harmony.

This framework focusing attention inward toward the name itself suggests Bradshaw had long-term ambitions to grow Brad's Drink into a recognized regional or even national brand.

While the ingredients and target health benefits differ wildly from today's Pepsi, in this initial mark we see the spark that set a beverage empire in motion.

As the company and brand evolved over the coming decades, iterations of this original script logo would endure as a core piece of Pepsi's identity.

The shape and spacing of these letterforms even inform stylistic choices visible in the brand's contemporary logo today. For any fan of branding history, this 1893 Genesis Script Logo marks the Drink that would become an essential component of American consumer culture.


Pepsi-Cola's original logo
Source: PepsiCo

Just five years after the genesis "Brad's Drink" script logo, Caleb Bradshaw rebranded his tonic creation as "Pepsi-Cola" in 1898, accompanied by an evolved cursive wordmark.

With this refresh, Bradshaw amplifies the elaborate script style of the original into a more embellished and standout Flourish Script Logo befitting the revised product and brand name.

Most notably, Bradshaw renders the new Pepsi-Cola name in a commanding, flowing red brush script.

The sharp color contrast against its white backdrop immediately captures consumer attention off the shelf, an early indication of Pepsi's modern marketing savvy.

Notice how the letterforms' organic shapes display amplified motion and energy, with elongated connectors and swash terminals on letters like the "P", "C", and "S".

These extreme extensions and teardrop finishings reflect the ebullience the drink supposedly inspired.

Cleverly, Bradshaw continues using this curvaceous script type style to echo the prominent "Cola" portion of the moniker as well as hint at the bubbles in the beverage itself.

The uniform consistency of the hand-drawn letter shaping lends an approachable, yet polished artisanal feel—appropriate for a pharmacy-born product now aiming to compete more broadly against mass-produced sodas of the day.

With this Flourish Script Mark in 1898, Bradshaw charts an pioneering tonal shift toward everyday families through charm and vitality—core brand values still associated with Pepsi over a century later.

We see hints of Pepsi’s future role in pop culture.

As an early indicator of this critical inflection point, the Flourish Script Logo signals Pepsi-Cola cementing itself as a beloved soda fountain staple nationwide in the coming decades.


Pepsi-Colas bottle cap logo
Source: PepsiCo

As Pepsi emerged from World War II as a rapidly growing nationwide brand, leadership sought an evolution of their logo in step with this newly elevated status.

The resulting 1951 design marks some of Pepsi's earliest experimentation blending its beloved script lettering within a graphic icon—foreshadowing critical branding approaches still utilized today.

I've dubbed this the "Patriotic Crest Logo" for its landmark ambitions.

The most conspicuous new element is the realistic three-dimensional metal bottle cap visual.

Rendering the cap in crisp red, white and blue is an ingenious touch, allowing Pepsi to reinforce its alignment with American culture through shared color symbolism.

Placing the classic Pepsi script within the white bounds of the cap treats this lettering like a proud crest, hinting at lofty brand aspirations. The metallic sheen and visible carbonation bubbling underneath further elevate perceptions of this innovative soda.

By nestling the refined Pepsi script into the iconography of soda commercialization itself, this 1951 prototype bridges old and new, tradition and progression.

Echoes of the logos introduced earlier in the 1890s endure through this mid-century revision, emphasizing a through-line of history and continuity.

Yet the incorporation of contemporary design styles and nationalistic symbolism keeps Pepsi on the pulse of a rapidly changing post-war society.

While this Patriotic Crest Logo was not ultimately carried into production, it offers a window into the strategic marketing dilemmas of the era.

Moreover, it presages solutions we see adopted some 15 years later with the minimalist Pepsi Globe logo, and again in current times.

By deftly blending script and iconography, the 1951 prototype embodied Pepsi's continuous dance between past and future, soda fountain and supermarket, America's origins and its destiny.


The first Pepsi Globe logo
Source: PepsiCo

Pepsi ushered in an entirely new design era in 1969 with the introduction of their Minimalist Streamline Sphere Logo.

As the turbulent 1960s drew to a close, Pepsi sought a brand identity radiating crisp, sleek efficiency to match the nation’s fixation on space age optimism. The resulting logo crystallizes these ambitions in stark purified form.

Most transformative is the spherical graphic now taking center stage.

Rendered as a pristine blue orb against a blank white field, its contours have been dramatically smoothed and narrowed.

With clean uniform lines and absent any shading or detailing, this sphere captures the aesthetics of sophisticated machines and advanced technologies defining this era.

Its perfect symmetry and visual balance ingeniously portray Pepsi as forward-thinking and precisely engineered for the dawning decades.

Notably, the sphere has been strategically flattened to allow prominence for the refreshed Pepsi inscription.

With the lettering now rendered in straight edged all-caps, the logo exhibits machine-age precision stripping away all vestiges of its curvaceous script ancestry.

This break from tradition aligns Pepsi firmly as a modern youthful brand, while the enlarged size and deep blue hue keep the name completely legible and eye-catching from a distance.

Through this polished Streamline Sphere, Pepsi adopts a sleekly minimalist visual language befitting its expanding portfolio of products and increasingly mass appeal.

As a pioneering implementation of minimalism in branding, the 1969 logo helped propel Pepsi headlong into the future as key stylistic genes endure through its present day identity system.


the pepsi logo of the 90s
Source: PepsiCo

Pepsi brings its logo into the modern era through two radical design moves in the early 1990s that come to signify the Geometry Emblems period.

As competitors flooded the market, Pepsi used abstract minimalism to inject urgency and forward motion into its storied identity.

The revolution began in 1991 as designers dismantled Pepsi’s long standing sphere graphic into geometric parts.

Angling these core elements side-by-side creates visual tension, while amplifier shapes structurally echo bold industry architecture.

Notice the condensed sans-serif lettering, redrawn here with angular cut-offs suggesting clipped efficiency. Stark black, white and red conjure associations with emergency signage and immediate action.

Just five years later in 1996, Pepsi unveils an even more astounding shape experiment—translating its iconic orb into an asymmetric wave for the first time ever.

With negative space imparting liquid effervescence, this angular segment Reinforces momentum, its gradients and dimensionality reflecting nineties graphical innovation. The staggered, elongated wordmark reiterates technology references.

Through the radical Geometry Emblems era, Pepsi produces startling innovations by dismantling, restructuring and undermining its own globe heritage.

In typical Pepsi fashion, this fresh experimentation fuels continued dynamism as the brand launches itself toward its 100-year milestone.


the revamped pepsi logo
Source: PepsiCo

As Pepsi’s 100-year anniversary approaches in 2008, the brand again revolutionizes its logo with a daringly minimalist iteration I call the “Streamline Infinity Mark.”

Steeped in heritage, yet utterly contemporary, this badge culminates Pepsi’s years of postmodern experimentation into one harmonic symbol.

We see the return of Pepsi’s famed spheres, yet counterintuitively, all curvature is removed.

Instead, through ingenious sleight-of-hand, the ANGLED WHITE STRIPE implies the contour lines of a sphere. Visually fusing this striping with the edges of the logo’s outlines creates the illusion of a mobius-strip, sphere, evoking concepts of perpetual motion and infinity.

The registering of the centered wordmark with this implied orb adds deeper meaning. Executed here in sleek, racetrack-esque custom typography, the decision to render PEPSI in all lowercase letters adds modernity along with kinetics.

Elongated letter forms and negative spaces continue the theme of movement and liquid.

By embracing negative space and optical trickery over literal globes, this bold Streamline Infinity Mark remained distinctive and ownable as Pepsi expanded globally.

The optical dimensionality achieved through just red, blue and white further enables adaptation across languages, cultures and media applications.

Through this ingenious logo, Pepsi managed to rediscover itself by 2008, crystallizing its heritage of spherical motifs, kinetic energy and perpetual reinvention into one streamlined icon primed for its next century of cultural iconicity.


the new and modern pepsi globe logo
Source: PepsiCo

In honor of Pepsi’s momentous 125th anniversary in 2023, the brand chooses a powerfully nostalgic detail: resurrecting its mid-century 1987 globe logo.

By bringing back this retinal-red orb now framed in crisp black, Pepsi pays tribute to the visual heritage making them an icon.

The outlined, Apple-esque globe strikingly mirrors logos used during Pepsi’s postwar boom era—still recalled today with sweet nostalgia.

Placing the vintage sphere atop sleek new typography fuses historic and contemporary seamlessly.

The sharp, straight-edged custom lettering displays a techy rawness befitting Pepsi’s youthful spirit today. Notice the underlined, sliced serifs adding speed while elongated characters and left-aligned asymmetry inject playfulness.

By cloaking its past in modern refinement, Pepsi reveals an insider’s understanding of effective “retro” branding today.

Leveraging peoples’ positive associations with red globe iconography makes the historic feel current again. Yet bespoke stylish fonts and simplified design avoids feeling dated. This balancing act spiritedly launched Pepsi into its next era with momentum from the last.

Through this 125th anniversary Legacy Sphere Mark, Pepsi reveals its secret sauce has always been blending the familiar and the fresh.

The company again proves its cultural staying power comes not from reinventing the wheel, but artfully reviving the most fizzy parts of its DNA each generation.

Here’s to the next 125 years!