For a brand of this stature, a logo is a key asset, allowing products to be recognized instantly. The brand's characteristics and values, developed and earned over the years, are also carried by the brand name and embodied in the logo.
Nintendo has used the familiar "racetrack" logo (referring to the line surrounding the name) since the early 1980s, only changing the color every now and then. The typography even dates back to the late 1960s.
But Nintendo has not always used this logo. For the first seventy-five years or so since their start in 1889, the logo consisted of the company name in kanji.
Up to this day, those kanji are used in Japan as the formal company name, and they continue to appear on their products. But the racetrack logo has replaced these as the main logo used in all marketing communication.
During Nintendo's modernization in the 1960s, while it also set the first small steps on the path of international distribution, it decided to introduce a logo using the roman script; readable by a Western audience and looking more modern for the Japanese home market.
The first version, introduced in the first half of the 1960s, used a handwritten, cursive style. This logo was used on the earliest boardgames, playing cards (like the Picture Book Trump) and the first toys (like the Rabbit Coaster). Distinctive features are a big curl starting the letter 'N' and a star as dot on the 'i', although some slightly different variations exist.
This logo consists of a circle containing stylized letters 'NG' and the words 'Nintendo Game', in a pinkish red sans-serif font. Examples of games that carry this logo are the Ultra Hand, Captain Ultra Coaster, Picture Cutter and various board games.
The somewhat bulging letters, with thin horizontal lines, and the square dot on the 'i'—this design has remained virtually unchanged, even though it is already forty-five years old by now.
After it first appeared on the Ultra Machine, this typeface has been used on almost every Nintendo product since.
And although the choice of typography had thus been settled, the overall logo still had not found its final form.
This logo was used consistently for all of Nintendo's 1970s boardgames, as well as for many toys from 1972 to 1975, like Time Shock, Lefty RX and Mach Rider. The different background colors applied have a real 70s feel.
This only lasted for a couple of years, after which Nintendo reverted back again to signing their products in Japan with the familiar kanji (任天堂).
And a year later, in 1983, this same logo could be found on the front of a silver colored box.
A box containing the landmark Family Computer.
From that moment on, until this day, the racetrack logo has been Nintendo's constant brand icon.