PUMA, established in 1948 in Herzogenaurach, Germany, designs and sells performance athletic footwear, apparel, and gear for football, running, fitness, golf, and motorsports. In 1924, brothers Rudolf and Adolf Dassler started Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory), the only sports shoe manufacturer at the time. The first Puma logo, in 1948, was a puma jumping through a D for Dassler. This Puma logo animal has changed over the years. In 1957, the “Formstrip” became the second logo. The Formstrip was originally a shoe design element that helped stabilize the foot in the shoe.
It resembles a road with a curve that narrows as it goes back. The history, changes, and significance of these two logos to the company’s success follow.
Puma Logo Design Elements
The current Puma logo is the silhouette of a puma leaping over the upper right corner of the brand name, Puma. The text and the puma may be in red, white, or black. The font is a thick, powerful, sans-serif font similar to the My Puma font. The look of the font suggests strength which is perfect for athletic wear.
Changes and Evolution
The original Puma logo shape was a puma jumping through a D for Dassler. Then the logo became six-sided with unequal sides resembling a geometric egg shape. There was a border with Rudolf Dassler Shuhfabrik around the border on some versions. In the center was the puma jumping through the D with the word Puma in sans-serif typeface underneath the D.
The “Formstrip” became a logo in 1958 and used on apparel. In 1967, a Nuremberg cartoonist, Lutz Backes, created the current Puma logo which just features the leaping puma.
The next change was in 1979. The puma is leaping over the upper right corner of the word Puma. The ears are more distinct, and the eye and muzzle disappeared. The current Puma logo is sleeker and more polished than the original. It gives the brand a more sophisticated feel. Reducing the logo down to the puma jumping over the text emphasizes the athleticism of the brand and the energy. The Puma logo animal matches the agility and the strength of the athletes that the brand is trying to reach.
Black has been the predominant color for the Puma logo because it indicates supremacy. If the color changes, it’s to a bold red or a distinctive contrast of white on red or black which makes the logo stand out. This simple use of color makes a strong statement about the brand to the public.
The simple, thick, bold, sans-serif font used in the logo complements the athletic brand well. It gives the feel of quiet strength that the public can associate with elite athletes ready to give their all at their event.
Rudolf Dassler chose the puma because he felt the big cat, with its speed and ability to jump, represented the characteristics of a successful athlete. That included speed, strength, endurance, and agility. This characterization applied to the athletes that Puma sponsored. The curve of the formstrip also implies movement, action, and energy which is the lifestyle that Puma is trying to sell. Seeing these logos on the gear of elite athletes has successfully worked for this company and is a model for the use of brand logos for other companies.
The Dassler brothers original shoe factory started in their mother’s laundry business. Because of unreliable electricity, they sometimes used a pedal from a stationary bicycle as a source of power.
In 1948, when the brothers opened separate shoe factories in Herzogenaurach, Rudi moved his business to the other side Aurach River. Adi opened his business using his nickname and the first three letters of his last name to create the name of his new company, Adidas. The two companies were rivals, and the town gained the nickname of “the town of the bent necks” because residents allegedly looked down to see which brand of shoe people were wearing.
Puma has continued the practice of sponsoring athletes that the brothers began with Jesse Owens. Some of the athletes they have sponsored include Pelé, Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova, and most recently the world’s fastest man and Jamaican track athlete, Usain Bolt.
The Puma logo has been simplified over time to a sleek-looking puma leaping over the Puma brand name displayed in a simple, bold font. The elements in the logo do a good job of communicating the connection of the speed, strength, agility, and endurance of the puma and the Puma brand with elite athletes.