How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (2024)

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (1)

Our new book I Love It What Is It lays bare the fascinating stories behind the brilliant branding done by the design company

It’s pretty much impossible to go a day without coming across the work of the branding and design company Turner Duckworth. The UK founded US-based company is the brains behind many of the unmistakable visuals of many of the world's most recognizable brands.

They’ve created the visual identities for anyone and everyone from Metallica to McDonalds, Campbells soup to Coca-Cola. That famous smile on the Amazon box you got the other day? Yep, that was done by them. We’ll tell you how it came about later in this story.

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (2) Trust & Faith, essay by Minott Wessinger, Chief Executive Officer, McKenzie River Corporation. Steel Reserve, High Gravity Lager. Picture credit: © Turner Duckworth

Published on the occasion of Turner Duckworth’s 30th anniversary, our new book, I Love It What Is It, features a selection of the firm’s familiar, witty and captivating work alongside texts from twenty contributors that explore themes of courage, passion, conviction, and heart-over-head decision-making when creating identities for some of the best-known brands in the world.

Meticulously put together by Gyles Lingwood, a professor at the University of Lincoln, I Love It What Is It? presents texts from leaders in the worlds of design and branding, including the former design director of Coca-Cola; the executive vice president and global chief marketing officer of McDonald’s; internationally celebrated designer and friend of Phaidon, Stefan Sagmeister; and more.

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (3) Soft Power, essay by Moira Cullen, Former Design Director, Coca-Cola North America. Picture Credit: ©2008 The Coca-Cola Company, All Rights Reserved

Here’s how it went when the company pitched the now iconic smile logo to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. Read on and you might learn something new about a logo you’ve seen countless times. Turner Duckworth CEO Joanne Chan tells the story.

“Amazon was a bookseller who had just started to sell CDs and DVDs. At the time, they had started to build their pioneering distribution centre strategy for faster shipping, and they were months away from announcing their partnership with Toys ‘R’ Us. David Turner (co-founder) and I travelled to Amazon headquarters to be briefed directly by Jeff Bezos, who at the time was not famous and not the least bit intimidating.”

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (4) Soft Power, essay by Moira Cullen, Former Design Director, Coca-Cola North America. Picture credit: © 2024 Turner Duckworth

“The brief was written on one sheet of paper with no images to inspire the designers, no background to define the competitive landscape, no data to explain customer segmentation and refreshingly, no Venn diagram of overlapping circles.”

“The challenge was straightforward and twofold: first, the company was hyper-focused on customer service. Whatever didn’t benefit the consumer was considered non-essential. When we asked for proof of this, we were told that a suggestion by the marketing department to print two-colour stationery was rejected because the incremental cost had no benefit to the end consumer.”

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (5) Marketing that People Love, essay by Jessica Spence, President of North America, Beam Suntory. Picture credit: ©2024 Andrew Davidson, c/o Mendola Artists. With permission from Beam Suntory, All Rights Reserved

“Second, the vision was to eventually sell ‘everything and anything’. We asked what Amazon might sell in the future, and Bezos answered, ‘furniture’. At the time, going from small objects, such as books and CDs, to large objects, such as furniture, seemed like a stretch, but now we all know how his vision has manifested.”

“A clear and concise brief is the Holy Grail for designers. But it also needs to be true, with no smoke and mirrors. Amazon’s brief was simple and 100 per cent truthful, backed up by how they ran their business.”

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (6)Flowers Bloom in the Sunshine, essay by Mark Tutssel, Former Executive Chairman and Global Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide. Flower photo by Paula Codoñer. Picture credit: courtesy the artist Paula Codoñer, ©2021, ©2020 & ©2022. All Rights Reserved

“We returned to present three design concepts, and Bezos chose what ended up being the final design in the first meeting. The simplicity of the design was exactly on-brief: the smile for customer service, connecting the A to the Z within the word ‘Amazon’.”

“This Easter egg of ‘everything from A to Z’ was never touted openly by Amazon. It remains a discovery element in the logo, much like the arrow in the FedEx logo. Creative ideas hidden in plain sight deliver a moment of delight for those sharp enough to notice. That, in turn, elicits a positive emotional response in the consumer and sticks in their minds and hopefully their hearts.”

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (7)

Want more great stories behind big brands? I Love It What Is It is a must-have insiders’ guide that offers hints, tips, and an optimistic point of view on cultivating ideas and taking risks that may not have been considered through logic alone.

How Turner Duckworth created the Amazon 'smile' logo | design | Agenda (2024)


How did Amazon come up with their logo? ›

Brand Amazon got its name from the world's longest river Amazon. Its first logo in 1995 had the river as the main feature. The letter A of the brand name formed a trapezoid. A long and wide white curve in the middle of the letter represents the river.

Who invented the Amazon smile logo? ›

It's pretty much impossible to go a day without coming across the work of the branding and design company Turner Duckworth. The UK founded US-based company is the brains behind many of the unmistakable visuals of many of the world's most recognizable brands.

What does the Amazon logo symbolize? ›

Amazon logo's symbolism and meaning

The arrow shape in the logo extends from the letter “A” to the letter “Z” while curving to form a smile, representing customer satisfaction, endless product selection, and end-to-end service.

What does the smile on the Amazon logo mean? ›

When one initially looks at Amazon logo the arrow at the bottom seems like a smiley face, but it is more than that. The arrow is pointed from a to the z; representing the fact that Amazon offers sheer variety of products for sale. And the smiley depicts customer's satisfaction.

When did the Amazon logo first appear? ›

Amazon's first logo was created in 1995 and it was a literal version of the brand name: an ocean blue background with the letter “A” forming a trapezoid. There was also this curve that represented the Amazon River or forest crossing the A.

What font is Amazon logo? ›

Amazon's logo is based of ITC Officina Sans . The main font Amazon uses is a custom corporate font called Amazon Ember which is a sans serif font specifically made for Amazon designed by Dalton Maag . They also use a font called Bookerly which is another custom font for Amazon.

Why was Amazon smile created? ›

Amazon launched AmazonSmile in 2013 to give customers a way to support their favorite charities while shopping on Amazon. Customers could shop via the website, and 0.5% of their purchases would go to a charity of their choice.

Can we use Amazon smile logo? ›

"You may not use any Amazon logos or other Amazon trademarks, other than the Badge, in your online or offline marketing materials (including product listings on Amazon websites) unless you have written permission from Amazon."

Is Amazon smile a real thing? ›

AmazonSmile is a donation program that redirects 0.5% of the cost of all eligible products toward charities. It is a separate website that lets you browse and buy items just like on But Amazon would keep track of your purchases and donate money on your behalf.

When did Amazon start using the smile logo? ›

2000 – Today: The fourth version of the Amazon logo

This iteration removed the “.com” and instead only kept the word “Amazon.” The text was all lowercase and featured a yellow/orange arrow that connected the “A” to the “Z,” essentially forming a smile.

What was Amazon's first logo? ›

Amazon's earliest logos, from 1995 to 1997

Amazon's very first brand mark included a very literal interpretation of its name: an image of the Amazon River against a blue background and a caption declaring itself “Earth's biggest bookstore.” In later versions, the company used a maroon color for the symbol.

What was Amazon's old name? ›

On July 5, 1994, Bezos initially incorporated the company in Washington state with the name Cadabra, Inc. After a few months, he changed the name to, Inc, because a lawyer misheard its original name as "cadaver".

What is the Amazon smile called? ›

Amazon is ending a charity donation program it ran for a decade in its latest cost-cutting move. In a blog post on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, the company said the program, called AmazonSmile, will shut down by February 20. ( AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) By THALIA BEATY and GLENN GAMBOA.

Why did Amazon smile go away? ›

Amazon Smile is a charitable donation program run by Amazon, where customers can choose to donate a portion of their purchase to charity. Amazon recently announced that they are cancelling the program due to low customer demand.

Why is the Amazon smile orange? ›

Amazon aspires to be the earth's most customer-centric company, a platform where customers can find virtually anything they wish to purchase online. The optimistic orange in its branding effortlessly aligns with this mission, psychologically conveying a positive, endless, and all-encompassing shopping experience.

Why did Amazon choose orange? ›

The orange arrow in Amazon's logo, playfully stretching from the letter 'A' to 'Z', is not merely a design element. It signifies that the platform provides everything from A to Z. Beyond its visual appeal, the orange color psychologically communicates positivity, warmth, and a universe of endless possibilities.

Why is Amazon logo in lower case? ›

Logo 4 – swish design, Jeff

Amazon was evolving and so was their brand. Lowercase made the brand more accessible to all (over the more stark and sharp upper case 'A') and it reflected the approach to the marketplace that Amazon has always had – it's Everything from A to Z, for everyone.

Why is Amazon logo lowercase? ›

The logo was in uppercase with a giant O in Amazon. The design did not even last a year, and in late 98 they introduced a new logo. They used lowercase letters to write Experts considered that the uppercase letters make the brand less approachable. So, they switched to lowercase.


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