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Back in 1900, when the company was started the logo was a realistic and simple shell which lies flat on the ground. This was a pectin or scallop shell, but today the company has a logo which is bold, colorful and much more simplistic.
The evolution of the logo began after 1915, when rendering enabled the company to reproduce its identity easily. This is visible in the 1930 logo for the company. When the company started a project in California, it added the red and yellow colors to the symbol. The colors help Shell to stand out. Additionally, these are the colors of Spain, where many Californian settlers were born, which might have helped the company to create an emotional bond with the people.
With the advent of internet and fax machines over the later years, it became necessary for the company to simplify their logo, which would prevent it from being distorted in small images. The 1971 logo designed by Raymond Loewy is very simple as compared to the earlier logos.
This has helped the company because this logo is more memorable and recognizable, accountable to the simplicity of the logo. The 1971 logo is still used by the company albeit with minor changes, but it has become so recognizable that it often appears without the company name now.