Rolling Stones Logo What does the iconic Rolling Stones big mouth, lips and tongue logo have in common with band front man Mick Jagger? I’ll let you think about it for a moment. It was back in April 1970 when Royal College of Art student…
Rolling Stones Logo
What does the iconic Rolling Stones big mouth, lips and tongue logo have in common with band front man Mick Jagger? I’ll let you think about it for a moment.
It was back in April 1970 when Royal College of Art student John Pasche first connected with the Rolling Stones. He was 25 at the time and responded to a call for a young artist to design a poster promoting an upcoming Rolling Stones tour. Jagger had actually seen some of Pasche’s work earlier in the year at his final degree show. Jagger liked the designs Pasche created and it got him the poster gig.
Shortly afterwards, when the band was about to launch their own record label, Rolling Stones Records, Jagger contacted Pasche again. The Stones had left Decca Records to strike out on their own and needed some unique branding for their label.
The commission that was given to Pasche was originally intended for a logo or some sort of symbol “which may be used on note paper, as a program cover and as a cover for the press book.”
Jagger already had a design concept in mind when he met with Pasche to go over the details. Jagger’s inspiration was a combination of things that all came out in a single newspaper clipping. In it was a drawing of Kali, and Indian goddess. The rendering had her pointed tongue sticking out and down from her mouth. In Hindu mythology the goddess was not only a powerful female figure, she symbolized time and death. For some reason, Jagger saw a parallel between Kali and the Rolling Stones.
However, Pasche found his inspiration from Jagger. The young artist described his meeting in this way:
“I went into this sort of wood-paneled boardroom and there (Mick) was,” Pasche has said in interviews.
“Face-to-face with him, the first thing you were aware of was the size of his lips and mouth.”
Image Above: Mick Jagger
Remember what I was telling you before?
So, the Rolling Stones Logo, named “Tongue and Lips” and eventually just “Hot Lips” earned John Pasche £50. You read that correctly. The accomplished art student was commissioned to do the work for a mere £50.
However, the logo was so well received by the Stones that Pasche was given a bonus – an additional £200. It made its official debut on the cover of the 1971 Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers Album Cover
The original artwork was purchased many years later by an art museum in London for $92,500.
The brand has been associated with the band ever since as a corporate logo, band logo, record label logo and has also made several appearances on various types of Rolling Stones Logo merchandise.
Take a look at the logo yourself.
It virtually drips with all that embodies rock ‘n’ roll. Call it sexy, call it loud, call it what you want but nothing quite says it as invitingly as the Hot Lips logo.
I admit, it does look dated at times. There’s no getting away from the ‘hippie’ feel of the 1970’s-era artwork. But, you know what? It still stands up. It has stood the test of time and continues to say rock ‘n’ roll in a way that makes you turn your head and want to crank it up a notch or two in order to feel the intensity.
Other designers have raved about the Hot Lips.
Mash Bonigala of Spellbrand calls it “the most evocative logo of any band” stating that Pasche managed to distill the essence of the band into “a single visual reference.”
Fellow UK designer David Airey cut to the quick when he was quoted saying the Rolling Stones logo stood out because “the sexiness associated with red lips is fitting for legends of rock ‘n’ roll.”
I completely agree.
What the Rolling Stones logo is, is all of the key elements I find work best in developing a ‘rock star’ logo. It’s simple. I’m not saying the artwork is weak. If anything, the strength of the artwork comes from the fact that the drawing of the lips, mouth and tongue are simplified. Almost cartoonish, but still to scale to appear reasonably realistic.
The colours used cause the Rolling Stones logo to jump out at you and with the out-stretched tongue, you just about have a 3D effect where the logo reaches out to you.
There are no word marks. The Rolling Stones logo is powerful enough to stand on its own and represent the Rolling Stones. An iconic logo is one that requires no explanation. You should be able to identify the brand as soon as you see the logo.
Sticky Fingers was the bands 9th British album. It was their first release on Rolling Stones Records and is considered one of the best albums ever released by the band. It went to #1 in Britain where it remained for four weeks then returned to the top spot for another week in June. It achieved triple-platinum status in the United States and included the smash hit “Brown Sugar.” The album also peaked at number one in Canada, Australia and various other countries in the world.
Would the Hot Lips logo have been as powerful a brand if the Sticky Fingers album had stiffed and barely charted? That’s one answer we will likely never know but it does pose an interesting point.
As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, in order for a brand to be successful, it has to have a fair amount of exposure. Riding the coattails of a Number One album by one of the most popular rock bands of the era did not hurt the Rolling Stones logo one little bit. In fact, it is fair to say that the success of the album most certainly contributed to the success of the logo.
The Rolling Stones logo received a lot of promotion as part of the marketing for both the album and the tour that followed to promote the album. That kind of brand awareness, where your logo ends up in front of and in the hands of millions, is not always achievable without a massive budget.
In 1971 a rock band showed the world how to do it and do it right. Yes, I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it!
The inspiration came from their sister Margaret. She saw the letters “AC/DC” on a label on a sewing machine. The letters are abbreviations for the terms “alternating current/direct current” and what could be more appropriate for such an electrifying hard rock band?