This month marks the 35th anniversary of the introduction of the famous ABBA logotype (or logo).
The logo was the inspiration of designer Rune Söderqvist. He was a friend of photographer Ola Lager, who had taken the photos for the covers of ABBA’s Waterloo (1974) and ABBA (1975) albums. Söderqvist suggested to Lager that ABBA needed a proper logo, that what they had been using “looked awful”. Lager mentioned this to ABBA and manager Stig Anderson, who asked Söderqvist to submit his ideas for consideration.
Söderqvist’s design was Swedish style personified. Using the font News Graphic Bold, the idea was simple: to reverse the first B, so that the two Bs faced the As, representing the two couples in ABBA. It also matched the symmetry of the word ABBA.
Compared to logos of other bands in the 1970s (see Bee Gees, Carpenters, Chicago, etc) Söderqvist’s logo was clean and streamlined. Some critics say that it looks cold and industrial. But it is extremely effective and instantly recognisable. Apparently Benny was the only member of ABBA to show any particular interest when Söderqvist first presented the logo.
Söderqvist thus became the art designer for all of ABBA’s subsequent record sleeves, starting with the Polar version of the first Greatest Hits album, released in November 1975. Curiously the text on the back cover was the non-bold version of News Gothic, which hints that his logo design dates from the same period.
The logo first appeared on the ‘Dancing Queen’ single, released in August 1976, and all subsequent official ABBA record releases and merchandise. In 2008 music website Spinner.com listed the ABBA logo as number 13 in a list of the 25 best band logos.
Over the years the logo has been bastardised, with a plethora of other fonts used on merchandise and record covers, perhaps most galling on the original CD of ABBA Gold and signage for the ABBAWORLD touring exhibition. But the logo has endured and today can be seen on all official CD releases and merchandise authorised by Polar Music.