Founded in California in 1966, Vans has a reputation for making sportswear for skaters, surfers, and snowboarders. This has has made Vans into one of the cooler and more alternative shoe brands. To further enhance their association with these sports, the Vans company regularly sponsors skaters to wear their logo.
The Vans logo has changed slightly over the years, but a few key design elements are always included. Its “Off the Wall” slogan calls attention to the company’s athletic ties and quirky background. In this article, we will tell you all about the history of this iconic logo.
Vans Logo Design Elements
The current logo for Vans is a combination of a brand name and a slogan. At the top of the logo is a wide, red rectangle that is a slightly warm, orange-ish shade. In white capitalized letters, the name “Vans” is spelled out within the rectangle. The V is slightly larger than the other letters, and the right point of the V extends in a horizontal line that tops the rest of the letters.
Beneath the rectangle is a set of quotation marks that contain the phrase “Off the Wall.” The brand slogan is written in black, but it is written in the same font as the rest of the logo. This all-caps, san-serif font features thick lines of a consistent width and few curves.
Changes and Evolution
The modern day Vans logo is very similar to its original logo tag that showed up on their first few pairs of shoes. That showed the brand name in a rectangle without the “off the wall” motto. In 1976, this was changed to a logo that had the brand name and motto inside of a stylized Van shape. Though the popular vehicle logo still shows up on some Vans merchandise, the company decided to switch their logo to the simpler rectangular design of modern times because it appeared more modern than the skewed 1970s style drawing.
Earlier pairs of Vans sported a white tag with the writing in blue. When the logo was changed to the van shape, a bright orangey-red was chosen that stood out more. After briefly changing to a duller black and white version, the company decided to restore their original red. The modern logo now uses red and white for the brand name and black for the motto.
All versions of the Vans logo have used a thick, bold, capitalized san serif font that extends the V in a line above the rest of the letters. This font is a customized modification of the Helvetica font that was first developed in the 1950s and became wildly popular for advertising in the 1970s.
Like many of the shoe designs, the Vans logo is directly inspired by the skaters who wore them. At the time, skaters liked to practice fancy tricks in the many empty pools of California. The skaters called this going “off the wall,” and it was a fun trick that even newer skaters could manage. This phrase is also used to describe a quirky or eccentric person, so it fit in perfectly with the Vans image. Though the Vans brand got its name from the Van Doren brothers who founded it, the name also inspired the earlier van-shaped logo of the brand.
The very first customers who bought Vans could not pick them up directly in the store. The Van Doren brothers who founded the company would have customers pick shoes based on a prototype and then manufacturer and stamp the logo on the shoes on the premises. Customers had to come back the next day to receive their purchases.
Though Vans shoes are mostly known to skaters, music fans may be more familiar with seeing the Vans logo on the Warped Tour sign. This traveling rock festival sponsored by Vans is the longest-running touring festival on the continent.
The Vans logo references their skating background proudly. As this once alternative sport becomes more mainstream, Vans shoes have also started to show up outside of the skate park. Since the logo for Vans manages to be noticeable without relying on any dated trends, it now appears on a variety of casual and sporty attire.