Unlike most company websites, Canon has a few pages dedicated to the Canon logo design. It’s quite refreshing, as I have ranked cannon high up on my best wordmarks of all time list and it’s nice to easily find some info directly from them. The pages created for the logo tell me they are aware of the success of the Canon logo design and about us logo and identity designers looking for some info on their logo design. They’ve even laid out the logo on a vector like grid, for the purpose of only satisfying graphic designers. My site is designed on a 12 column grid, btw.
Canon’s beginnings start in 1933 with the creation of Precision Optical Instruments with the goal to “create the best cameras in the world.” The name Kwanon, which later on turned into Canon, stuck after the trial cameras were dubbed Kwanon. The name Kwanon was derived from the benevolence of Kwanon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Somehow, the mercy ties in with creating the best cameras in the world and the name was a perfect match. The details of the first Canon logo design depicted “Kwanon with 1,000 Arms” and flames. Much more of an Illustration and they quickly changed the logo into a simpler and more effective workmark in 1934.
This change leads to an unused wordmark, although better than the illustration, was not meant to be seen by the public. They never unveiled it and used it only during trial manufacturing.
Finally, in 1935 the name Kwanon is changed to Canon and the logo design is officially trademarked. This logo is the stepping stone for the future and final one, which is actually a very nice starting point considering the date of 1935. Things to notice are the edge on the C, very distinct a, x height, the tail on the letter n.
A remake in 1953 further accentuates the features of the logo I mentioned above. The letters are thicker, most likely for visibility.
The final is created in 1956 with further enhanced details when compared to the 1935 logo and the 1953 logo design.
The name Canon carries such meanings as “holy scripture” and “criterion or standard of judgment.” It effectively captures Canon’s corporate spirit, which aims to set a global standard for advanced technologies and service while becoming a criterion in the industry to which others will aspire.