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Logos with Global Impact: Ten logos from the United Nations

The United Nations is a global organization that is known to almost everyone on the planet. The UN features many organizations beneath its umbrella, all with a different purpose. As we will see from the following ten design logos, these distinct aims are expressed by various elements in each logo design.

Branding Building Tip: Know Who You Are

When you set out to create a strong brand, there are a few questions you should answer as soon as possible.

These are:

  • How do people see you?
  • How can you build brand awareness?
  • How can you promote pervasive brand building in your organization?

Let’s look at these one at a time.

How Do People See You?

The thing to remember about a brand is that it’s not what you say it is, it’s what everyone else says it is. Your brand exists in the collective imagination of consumers. You can only influence this ephemeral space up to a point. Some companies attempt to do so by running advertising campaigns, while some even turn to reputation management firms. But this may be jumping the gun. Before you can address any brand image issues, you have to determine what people actually think of you.

One way to do this is to conduct customer surveys. Note that in order to get meaningful data, you might have to incentivize participation in some way. The chance to win a gift card is often sufficient. Once you have data, compare your customers’ impressions of you against your mission and values statements. How do you stack up?

Building Brand Awareness

Over time, the best way to build brand awareness is to deliver a quality product or service. Consistency is key. But in today’s hyper-competitive environment, it’s also vital to understand the importance of online platforms. You should build your online presence, with a website and blog, at a minimum. But you can also amplify your online presence with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media platforms. These platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses, so take some time to familiarize yourself with them before you dive in.

There’s no doubt that consumers have adopted these social media sites in huge numbers. It’s important to have a presence in the places your customers congregate. This allows you to interact in a way that feels natural to them. Today’s customers don’t want to be constantly advertised to. Social media marketing allows you to display a more human side, and this resonates with modern consumers.

Pervasive Branding

Your brand should be a part of everything you do. This doesn’t just mean slapping your logo onto everything you possibly can, though. Instead, it means being brand-minded. For instance, you should proactively build a company culture that promotes your brand and celebrates what sets you apart.

Pervasive branding means energizing employees by showing them how your product or service brings happiness to customers.

It means coming up with a memorable tagline that encapsulates everything that’s awesome about your company.

The UN can afford to rely on its reputation and fame. You can’t. If your competitors are gaining ground or your products seem stale, it might be time for a brand change.


1. The United Nations Logo Design

The United Nations Logo Design

The United Nations logo is the logo that most of the others are based on. The logo is in a calming sea blue, showing the organization’s intention to solve problems and make the world a more peaceful place. The globe is not just an appropriate icon for this international organization, it is also in a round shape that is commonly used in design logos that want viewers to feel included. The laurel leaves are a symbol of government and education, and they represent the lofty goals of this well-known organization.

2. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Logo Design

The United Nations Children’s Fund Logo Design

The United Nations Children’s Fund, also known as UNICEF, is an organization dedicated to helping children around the world. The logo expresses this well. Like many design logos used by organizations that work with families, the center graphic is of a parent holding their child. The lettering of the agency name is entirely lower case and well-rounded, making it seem friendlier than that used by most UN organizations. The logo is in the recognizable United Nations blue with the familiar globe and laurel branches in the background, leaving no confusion as to the sponsor of this organization.

3. The Human Rights Council Logo Design

The Human Rights Council Logo Design

The Human Rights Council of the United Nations is focused on maintaining a standard of human rights around the world. This council shows its ties to the UN by using the globe as the background of their logo. The dove and the olive branch show the peaceful intentions of the council, while the bold red and orange of these shows the urgency and attention that the issue of human rights deserves. Bright, warm colors are often used in design logos to both attract attention and create a sense of immediacy.

Brand Building Tip: The Values Check

The UN has recognizable core values, such as integrity, professionalism, dedication to peace and respect for diversity. But the core values of a for-profit organization can get lost in the shuffle. It’s a good idea to do a periodic values check so you can keep your values front and center.

At some point, you’ll need to think beyond your logo to your core message. The following brands have done this well, and their stories are well worth your study:

  • Nike
  • Always
  • Zappos
  • Everlane
  • Hims
  • Swell
  • Kashi
  • Sonos

Knowing your values ahead of time is important. In your periodic tune up, you’ll want to make sure your stated values match what you’re actually broadcasting to the world. Does the wording of your logo, website and social media posts align with your core values? How do these materials—especially your marketing materials—add value to the customer’s day? Are you engaging in any marketing practices that don’t align with your stated values?

Finding and remedying any deviation is important. If you don’t find these discrepancies, your customers—or detractors—will.

Doing this values check is especially important if you’re a small fish in a big pond. If you’ve decided it’s time to take on bigger brands, you had better make sure you have all your ducks in a row. See the case study, Local Brand Versus Global Brand: A Case Study of the Cola Soft Drink Industry in Thailand for an example.


4. United Nations Environment Programme Logo Design

United Nations Environment Programme Logo Design

As the name suggests, the United Nations Environment Programme focuses on helping countries cooperate to create a healthier, cleaner planet. This logo ties into the UN by using the branches and the light blue color, but instead of a globe intersected with latitude and longitude lines as seen in most United Nations logos, a solid circle is used instead. This closing in of the circle creates a sense of cooperation, while the human figure reaching to opposite parts of the circle suggests that this committee has an impact on every corner of the globe.

5. The International Monetary Fund Logo Design

The International Monetary Fund Logo Design

The International Monetary Fund oversees the financial activities of different countries and helps track world financial trends. This UN agency is unique because all but a handful of UN countries are members. This universal appeal is expressed by the logo. The two lateral hemispheres of the globe are shown overlapping, with a shield-like shape enclosing them. The shield is the symbol of tradition and history, so it is appropriately used here. Like many design logos for companies that focus on the bottom line, the logo is a stark black and white, a change from the light blue usually used for United Nations organizations.

6. The World Health Organization (WHO) Logo Design

The World Health Organization Logo Design

The World Health Organization focuses on public health issues, coordinating similar national programs and offering assistance where no national public health program exists. As such, its health logo features the familiar United Nations logo with the addition of a caduceus. Because the caduceus is a recognizable and international sign of medicine, this makes the intent of this organization clear.

7. The World Food Programme Logo Design

The World Food Programme Logo Design
The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, focusing solely on maintaining adequate and stable food supplies to areas that have traditionally been without them. The food logo, in a slightly darker version of the recognizable UN blue, features the laurel leaves of the UN logo, along with a hand holding wheat and corn, two of the most important crops in the world. The hand is slightly elongated at the fingertips, forming a swoosh shape that is used by design logos that want to portray a sense of movement.

Brand Building Tip: Know What Makes You Different

What are the key messages you want to convey to a potential customer? What do you need them to know about your brand within 30 seconds of being exposed to it? How are you the obvious choice? It’s not enough that you’re aware of your brand attributes, either. Every employee should be aware of why your product is superior, too.

So take the time now to write down your key messages.

That’s the easy part. Once that’s done, you need to break it down further into three differentiation pillars.

A differentiation pillar spells out in no uncertain terms why your product or service is different. Coming up with three ensures that your advertising can be flexible. You see, if your marketing materials cover the same points over and over, consumers will tune out. Coming up with three differentiation pillars ensures that your marketing stays fresh.

Each differentiation pillar should spell out one unique way in which your product is different and how it positively impacts your customers.

Once you’ve written down three of these, go back and read them again. Make sure that you don’t have two or more on the list that are basically the same but just worded differently. It’s common to do this in your first attempt, so don’t get flustered. A mind map or brainstorming app can help get the creative juices flowing.

Of course, if you can come up with more than three differentiation pillars, that’s even better.

Once you have your differentiation pillars nailed down in an official document, make sure that all employees read and understand it. With that done, you can then leverage your logo, marketing materials and online presence to emphasize how you’re different.

See the case study Leveraging a Brand Icon to Build Meaningful Engagements on Social Media to see how Maytag did it.


8. The United Nations Population Fund Logo Design

The United Nations Population Fund Logo Design

The United Nations Population Fund focuses on monitoring the population worldwide and offering reproductive care to people around the world. It has a very different logo from the design logos of other UN agencies and organizations, but it is nonetheless a unique and powerful logo. The logo is square in a golden yellow color with orange circles symmetrically arranged. The United Nations logo is a small graphic in the center of the logo, while the initials of the organization are featured in one of the orange circles. This logo is modern and has the solidness of the square shape, setting it apart from other UN programs while maintaining its distinct identity as part of the organization.

9. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Logo Design

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Logo Design
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is independent of the Human Rights Council, one of the many examples of duplication of duties within the UN. This human rights organization features a different logo from the other human rights organization in the United Nations, in a stark black and white to show the seriousness with which the office views human rights violations. The familiar laurel leaves from the United Nations logo are there, but instead of a globe, there is a bold, stylized flame, showing the fire of humanity and the office’s intention to protect it

10. The International Labor Organization Logo Design

The International Labor Organization Logo Design
The International Labor Organization of the United Nations deals with labor issues around the world, ensuring that workers are treated fairly everywhere. Like a few other United Nations design logos, this one uses a slightly darker version of the classic UN blue. The familiar laurel leaves are used, but in the middle is a cog-like shape made of three pieces. This is easy to relate to the cause of worker’s rights because it is a shape commonly seen in factories. The agency acronym is featured in the middle of this cog with thick letters and newsy serifs.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.