Star Wars is one of the most successful franchises in film history. When the first film in the series was released with the eponymous film in 1977, no one could have predicted the impact that this film series would have not only on Hollywood and film making, but on culture.
Many terms associated with the Star Wars franchise are now in common parlance, including specific aspects of the film like lightsabers and Jedi knights. Even the Princess Leia hairstyle of the original film is well-known. Here we will discuss the Star Wars logo and the history and impact of the logo in the United States and around the world.
Logos are important for brand marketing and Star Wars is no different. A good logo is immediately recognizable, allowing someone interested in the product to instantly know they are in the right place. Some of the most iconic logos include the golden arches, Starbucks mermaid, the blue oval, and a simple outline of an apple with a bite taken out of it.
The Star Wars logo may be simple but it conveys the message of the films in an effective and succinct fashion. In this regard, the Star Wars logo has all the characteristics of a good logo.
About Star Wars
It is difficult to imagine American film without Star Wars. The Star Wars films have had an enormous cultural impact, which says nothing about the impact Star Wars has had on film making itself. Star Wars took science fiction film making away from a niche industry and catapulted it into the mainstream.
Films today are saturated with the science fiction elements that Star Wars introduced, such as the design of spaceships and weapons, and even character and set design.
George Lucas and the First Three Films
Star Wars was created by George Lucas and the first film was released in 1977. The first Star Wars film, entitled Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) was the first film in one of the most lucrative film franchises in history.
The film was given the designation Episode IV because George Lucas planned even then to create three prequel films to introduce the story and characters he explored in that first film. This film introduced to us such characters as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca, just to name a few.
It is difficult to say why Star Wars has been so popular as a franchise, but it may have to do with striking the right balance between science fiction elements and the typical characteristics of a fun, entertaining film.
Star Wars was followed by The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and The Return of the Jedi in 1983. These first three films were basically a long entry in the space opera that is Star Wars. They concern the events in the life of Luke Skywalker and his father, (spoiler alert!) Darth Vader. They explore concepts of good and evil in the setting of a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars Gets a Reboot
The Star Wars franchise did not end with the first three films. George Lucas kept his promise of releasing his prequels to the series when he dropped The Phantom Menace in 1999. The Phantom Menace was Episode I, meaning it was intended to introduce the characters and ideas that were explored in the original three Star Wars films.
The Phantom Menace, like the other, later Star Wars films, continued to use the basic Star Wars logo, although appearing a little differently because the films did not incorporate Star Wars into the name.
Star Wars introduced us to Anakin Skywalker, the boy who would later be known as Darth Vader. The Phantom Menace was followed by Attack of the Clones, which continued to explore the story of Anakin Skywalker’s descent into the dark side. 2002’s Attack of the Clones was followed by Revenge of the Sith, a film which completed Anakin’s transformation from reluctant Jedi knight into servant of the Dark Emperor Palpatine.
Star Wars For a New Audience
Although the prequels have been met with mixed reviews from critics and fans, George Lucas and his team did not stop there. The Star Wars franchise received a vibrant boost with the release of The Force Awakens in 2015, which became Episode VII in the franchise. Like the other films, The Force Awakens also used a basic variation of the Star Wars logo. The Force Awakens was followed by the Last Jedi in 2017, a film which continued the phenomenal box office receipts of all the other Star Wars films.
Outside of the main Skywalker theme of the Star Wars films, George Lucas and his team also forayed into other stories that explored the Star Wars universe. The two main films here are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
These films branched off from the main plot of the episodic Star Wars films although they frequently referenced or even included main characters and plot devices. The success of the films in the Star Wars franchise has meant that more films are in the works, with Episode IX already in development.
Star Wars Logo Logo Design
The design of the Star Wars logo is pretty basic. Although the Star Wars logo with its block-style lettering and 80s flair is recognizable to most movie fans, the original logo was not in place at the time the first film was released.
A review of posters and other memorabilia that surrounded the first film shows that the Star Wars logo underwent somewhat of an evolution. Most variations of the logo followed the theme that moviegoers see in the opening sequence of the films: of letters trailing off into the distance.
The Star Wars logo we recognize today crops up in the titles of all the films that followed the original Star Wars released in 1977. Although the logos of the various films have their distances, the smooth, circular lines around the letters and block-style of the letters is consistent across the films with some exceptions.
As mentioned above, the main theme of the Star Wars logo is almost an 80s science fiction type of Art Nouveau with the sense of movement we associate with the opening narrative sequence of the film.
Although the Star Wars logo may appear fairly simple, this may be a selling point not only for the logo but for the films in general. Star Wars does not strike itself out as a film that attempts to be something it is not.
Although the characters, ideas, and sets are enticing and original, the characters in Star Wars come across as old family friends that just happen to be living very, very far away from Earth (and technically died a long, long time ago). George Lucas does a good job at making Star Wars both something different and something familiar, a trick we even see with the Star Wars logo.
Star Wars Logo History & Evolution
As we touched on earlier, the Star Wars logo was not set in stone at the time the first film was released in 1977. Posters, advertisements, and other memorabilia reveal sometimes subtle variations on the basic theme of the logo.
The logo letters are generally in block-style, but sometimes we see the words Star Wars in stark, jarring text. That is, without the smooth, curving lines we see in the titles of the Star Wars films. This may represent George Lucas and the other names in Star Wars still attempting to figure out what this whole Star Wars thing was about.
What do we mean by that? We live in the age of branding, and a logo is an important part of a brand. By streamlining the logo of Star Wars into a thing of block letters, smooth lines, and sort of upbeat, modern flair, George Lucas did not set Star Wars apart as a dramatic, horror film but the type of lighthearted film that anyone in the family could enjoy.
The films that came after the original Star Wars all had logo designs that were variations of the first film. Some logos used thinner lettering, but the smooth, circular style has been consistent throughout all the films in the franchise.
This is not to say that the logo has not changed it all, but the creators of the many films have stuck to the basic design, usually just changing the colors and thickness of the letters. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—something other branders can take to heart when branding their products.
Star Wars has a place in the heart of many film enthusiasts because they associate the film with the times in their lives when they first watched them.
In this context, the Star Wars logo is important as it reminds the person looking at the logo of those feelings they feel when they watch the film. Because the logo is smooth, simple, and not jarring, the logo is able to effectively represent and sell the Star Wars franchise.