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The History of and Story Behind the Paypal Logo


Once in a while, a company comes around that completely changes the face of an industry. One such company was PayPal. The company was known as Confinity when it was first established back in 1998. Now over 20 years later, the company has undergone several acquisitions and name changes to become what it is today. PayPal is one of the United States’ largest corporations by revenue. It has also become a standard in the online money transfer industry, with operations worldwide. PayPal may have had a difficult beginning, but the company has managed to surpass challenge and emerge at the end into the company it is today. The company has experienced so many changes over the years, from operations to ownership. But one other thing that has changed with PayPal over the years is its logo.

First logo (1998 - 2007)

From the founding of the company until 2007, PayPal operated under a basic logo. The logo was a simple white wordmark with a blue border. It was a modest typographic treatment of the company name. The transition of PayPal’s logos has some significant correlation with the development of technology during that time. Back in 2007, mobile technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now. Online transactions were mostly done through a desktop or laptop. Mobile Internet access was still limited. Up until 2007, we didn’t have the iPhone or any Android platforms. Mobile applications were basically nonexistent. However, after the release of both the iPhone and Android, the mobile world changed dramatically. This affected the branding of companies as the need for compact and mobile-friendly logos began to appear.

Second logo (2007 - 2014)

PayPal’s second logo replaced the first in 2007. The white wordmark version was completely eliminated and replaced by a blue version. Two shades of blue were used to symbolize the new emblem, which had a slightly softer appeal compared to the original. The edges were softened, and the typeface was modernized. The spacing between the letters were also increased, which resulted to a cleaner look altogether.

Some marketers believe that the second logo actually posed more problems than the first. For one, the original white logo contrasted well against virtually any background, while the second blue logo failed to provide contrast against some backgrounds (i.e. blue backgrounds). However, other marketers believed that the tradeoff of a more modern look and appeal far outweighed the contrast issues—and this was surely the case. The popularity of PayPal soared with the development of online technology, and the logo changes made sense for that time period.

In addition to the new color and new typeface, PayPal also added a double-P monogram. This monogram sat on top of the company name and served as the new symbol for the brand. This new brand representation was created just in time for the introduction of mobile apps to the world. With handheld mobile technology having limited screen space, it was important for apps to be compact and small. PayPal adapted to this need with the creation of the symbol, but the overall appeal was still seemed a bit too clunky.

In 2012, PayPal upgraded their typeface to something even rounder. Although it didn’t address its apparent flaws when it comes to mobile tech, it was still a much better alternative in comparison to the first logo. This was also the time when PayPal partnered up with Discover Card to allow PayPal payments to be possible at any retailer that’s part of the Discover Card’s network of 7 million stores. This meant that PayPal’s new logo was going to be visible on storefronts, counters, and other store features. It was a big move for the company, and the proper logo was important for the success of that move.

Current logo (2014 - now)

PayPal will undergo yet another logo change, but the adjustments this time are subtler. This new logo is considered to be the company’s most successful one. The further improvements and developments in mobile tech called this branding change into action. PayPal worked with a San Francisco-based firm to create an entirely new design interface for the company. PayPal kept its company colors blue but changed both emblem and wordmark completely. The company also wanted to relay a new identity to its users—connection and forwardness.

The new emblem design featured two contrasting blue and overlapping double P. The connection is stated through the emblem, while the message of forwardness is communicated through the strong italics. The logo name has an even more updated typeface using a clean and rounded sans serif. The double-story “a” characters have been replaced with simpler single-story characters. The letters are also just slightly wider, and the spacing between the letters has been reduced.

While PayPal has kept its corporate color blue, there was also a change when it came to color. PayPal’s most current colors are brighter and more vibrant in comparison to its previous logos. The brighter shade has been taken as a move for PayPal to keep in bold competition with newer payment gateways. Although PayPal has been a trusted brand for many years now, there are always newer companies that are looking to take over the trade. PayPal has no plans on hanging up the towel, but the company does acknowledge the fact that an image update is sometimes necessary in order to stay in the game. PayPal’s latest logo has been working well for a few years now, but we can imagine that another update might be due soon. The company emblem has long been a recognizable symbol of the brand, and we’ve already seen the company logo without typeface in many environments and channels. There’s always room for improvement, and if history proves it, we’re sure that PayPal will make the change if it ever becomes necessary.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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