Some of the most enduring and memory-inducing symbols from the Yugoslav-era are the vast amount of logos produced during that time period. Many by themselves have the ability to invoke nostalgia for old products, places and times gone by. The modern concept of 'logos' that we think of today came into its own during the socialist era of Yugoslavia, as such, the country's distinct and bold design style which resulted from its embracing of modernist aesthetics left a deep impression on the many logos produced across every industry. As a graphic designer myself, I have always had a keen interest in these logos but was always dismayed at the amount of information regarding them. As a result, several months ago I began an effort researching and cataloging them through an Instagram account called "YugoLogo", which, as of present, has exhibited hundreds of examples. This article will be a brief exploration of some of fascinating history I have unearthed so far, while also showcasing some notable logo examples from a wide range of industries and backgrounds.
The First Examples
The beginning of logotype design in Yugoslavia (previously known as Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) can be traced to the beginning of the 20th-century, where we see first examples of what we today call logotypes and other handmade typography in use. The 'Politika' newspaper, one of the oldest daily newspapers of the Yugoslav region, was founded in 1904 by journalist Vladislav Ribnikar, who is also the author of POLITIKA logo and logotype, both of which today are still in use today.
Post-War Symbols: 1940-50-60s
In the time after World War II, during the period of liberation and reconstruction, the country was rebuilt from the ashes and it had to be given a 'modern' look. Despite the reality that the government was essentially the only client (and the client is always right), designers of that age still managed to introduce principles of innovative and pioneering design into their work and were able to create some timeless and long-lasting logo works. One of the more notable of these early logo designs was that for the Belgrade-based company Gradjevinsko Preduzeće “Rad” (Construction Company 'Work'). Founded in 1947, their iconic logo was designed in 1952 by artist and graphic designer Dragoslav Stojanović-Sip. The 'Rad' company is famous for constructing not only some of the most recognizable buildings in Belgrade, such as both the Eastern Gate and Western Gate towers, but they also created massive projects around the world.
[left] "Rad" company logo. Credit: Yugologo. [right] Eastern Gate building, Belgrade. Credit: Donald Niebyl
Most of the logo design work in Yugoslavia was done through open call contests. Yet, at the same time, a small percent of companies had “in-house designers”, while there were also some “independent” design bodies that produced logos as well. The most significant example of an independent design body in Yugoslavia was the “Ozeha” advertising agency based in Zagreb. Founded in 1945, it was the first independent agency for marketing graphic design for the region, which produced such products as logos, commercial advertising, political propaganda, and much more. It had more than 120 employees and operated in Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, Belgrade, Sarajevo and Skopje. Ozeha worked closely with companies like INA, Borovo, Frank, Vuteks, etc. Of these, by far the most enduring and iconic that can still be seen across the region to this day is the logo for the INA (Industrija Nafte) multi-national oil company based in Zagreb, which was designed in 1954 by Dušan Bekar.
The logo for the independent design agency 'Ozeha'. Credit: Yugologo
Logo for the INA oil company, designed by Dušan Bekar of the Ozeha agency. Credit: Yugologo
The End: 1970-80s
In the 1970s, an organization called the Dizajn Centar (Design Center) was founded in Belgrade, which was a creative incubator that gathered industrial designers, architects and other visual artists together who would organize exhibitions, educate citizens about “better living”, as well as teaching people how to incorporate art/design in their everyday life. In addition, the center also made various graphic prototypes and solved design problems for the needs of a whole range of different industries. Unfortunately, the Design Center never received enough support to operate smoothly, and most of their prototypes and design never went into mass production. Below can be seen an image of the distinct logo for the Design Center, which was created in 1970 by artist Milan Rakić.
The Milan Rakić logo for the Design Center group in Belgrade. Credit: Yugologo
However, perhaps the most iconic logo of the late era of Yugoslavia was the logo designed by Miroslav Antonić Roko for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games which were held in Sarajevo. Hugely popular from these games was not only this distinct and vibrant snowflake logo, the games official mascot 'Vučko' (or 'Wolfie' in English) by designer Jože Trobec was also a massive hit and remains nostalgically popular to this day.
The logo by Miroslav Antonić Roko for the 1984 Olympic games. Credit: Yugologo
The classic and standard Vučko/”Wolfie” mascot image for the 1984 Winter Olympics. Source: XXZ Magazine
Let us now examine a few notable logo examples from a range of various industries from across Yugoslavia which span the whole range of eras described above. Through looking at these, one can recognize styles and trends among and between industries, while also being able to absorb the unique Yugoslav design aesthetic that existed during this time period.
1. Niteks, Serbia 1976. Nebojša Milošević
2. Vuteks, Croatia 1930. unknown
3. Teteks, Macedonia 1951. unknown
4. Textind, Serbia, 1987 Boško Ševo
1. Novosadska Banka, Serbia 1969. Miodrag Nedeljković
2. Beobanka, Serbia 1970. Milomir Miladinović i Radomir Blagojević