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Tabletops: The logos are lit

Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber
The logos are lit
From the beginning, almost every Apple Store featured one or more large, backlit logos on its facade. The glowing logos quickly grew to become an inseparable part of the Apple Retail design identity.
Steve Jobs even acknowledged the mammoth proportions of the logo at The Grove during a keynote:
“You can tell we’re not shy about using our logo.”
—Steve Jobs, Macworld 2003
The glowing logos continued in many styles for more than a decade. Then Apple hit the lights.
2015: The year logos on MacBooks and stores went dark.
2015: The year logos on MacBooks and stores went dark.
In 2015, the New Store Design brought a new philosophy to logo usage. Conspicuous Apple branding was out, and backlit logos were largely absent from new mall stores. The first New Store Design locations pared back every element to its purest form.
Can you spot it?
Can you spot it?
New designs called for Apple logos cut from brushed steel and attached to the quartz wall panels. These logos were often positioned on entrance walls perpendicular to the mall corridor. By my count, 54 stores were built in this style.
Just two years later, Apple flipped the switch again. Since September 2017, all new mall stores have used backlit logos. But that’s not all. By early 2018, Apple began a project to eliminate the original steel logos at all 54 locations. One by one, quartz panels were swapped with new, backlit versions. Slowed by the pandemic, this process has been ongoing for the past four years and is only now reaching completion.
Apple Northbrook: Before and after (via @duohanson)
Apple Northbrook: Before and after (via @duohanson)
Most decisions are surprisingly complex, but it’s easy to speculate on a simple reason why Apple rolled back this design: the logos were just too hard to see. You and I could spot a Forum Seat from the opposite end of a stadium, but to most mall visitors, an Apple Store without a legible sign is invisible in a busy mall corridor.
I'm running late for my Genius Bar appointment. Can you point me towards the Apple Store?
I'm running late for my Genius Bar appointment. Can you point me towards the Apple Store?
It may be the end of an era, but you can always head to Memphis if you need a nostalgia fix. Apple Saddle Creek is the only store to replace its eye-level steel logo with a new steel logo above the door.
Featured image
Apple Hilldale
Photo via @ming.xt on Instagram.
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Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber @michaelsteeber

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