History of a classic maritime logo

APL1938 World’s Best Logos and Brands blog did a brief history of the logo for APL, formerly known as American President Lines. They write:

Because of the international nature of trade, transportation company logos are every bit as significant as national flags. Even as recently as 50 years ago, steamships were the lifeline for many remote parts of the world, and people relied heavily on the services offered by shipping companies like APL and its predecessors.

APL1955 The local population often turned out in force when a ship entered harbor. But first, through cupped hands, an open window, or perhaps a telescope, people looked for a familiar silhouette, the ship’s house flag, or the logo on its smokestack to determine which company it belonged to — and whether the ship carried the cargo and passengers for which they had been waiting.

APL1980 In this way, these early transportation logos gradually became associated with service, reliability, and other competencies of the companies to which they belonged. In addition to these qualities, leadership is something that people began to associate with the logos belonging to APL and its forebears.


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Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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