Whether you're looking in the local clothing shop or checking our kitchenware, it's hard to go into well, any, retail area these days that doesn't boast some promotional merchandise featuring the classic "meatball" NASA logo. Despite being an American institution, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is known the world over thanks to this iconic logo design (and space missions). Today we're investigating why exactly this design is still popular after all these years.
Old Logo is New Again
The "meatball" NASA logo we are seeing spring up on promotional drink bottles, bags, shoes, and jumpers all around the world isn't a new design -- or even a modern one. The iconic blue/red/white combination logo was originally designed in the 1950s before being retired in the 1970s in favour of the text-only "worm" logo. However, since 1992 the "worm" has gone out of favour and the "meatball" has been reinstated with a vengeance. If you were to ask anyone who was young in the 70s, 80s, 90s, or 00s if they recognise the "meatball" NASA logo chances are they'll not only know it, but remember it fondly.
Products to Promote NASA's Mission
What is interesting about the NASA logo is that despite it being found on almost every conceivable product, NASA doesn't actually profit from this merchandise being marketed with its name and logo on it. Because NASA is a government body with a public mission, it does not generate revenue from the use of its logo ("meatball" or "worm"). However, any old company can't just slap the NASA logos onto products -- the organisation must approve the use of their logo before vendors can start printing NASA goods.
Why The Surge in NASA's Popularity?
NASA staff and fans alike believe that the increased demand in recent years for custom printed NASA products stems from people embracing both nostalgia and a renewed push for STEM education. That and of course the sense of wonder and mystery space exploration presents us with! There's a limit to what the NASA logo can be featured on though, and alcohol or tobacco products are definitely not allowed. Instead, NASA's team will only endorse the use of these logos if they meet both standard branding requirements and also are harmonious with how NASA wishes to be perceived. This is important to note for any organisation wishing to protect their logo now and in the future.
How to Emulate NASA's Success
Unfortunately there's no magic formula for creating an iconic logo, but it certainly helps to have your logo design be simple in its construction and associated with a positive product or experience. NASA boasts one of the most recognisable logo designs of all time and the continued success of their collaborative branded merchandise proves that if people enjoy a brand, they will spend money on a variety of products to show that brand loyalty. Yes, even to space programs!
Details first spotted here: https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-07-19/nasa-logo-shirts-swimsuits-everything