Why Nostalgic Logos Are Booming Right Now

A new wave of company logos all include the same three-letter word

James I. Bowie
Published in
5 min readSep 11, 2020
A collage of logos including Humboldt, JC Penney, Kangol Vintage, The Shave, Coors Light, and more.
Images: James I. Bowie

Does your local craft brewery’s logo helpfully inform you that the business was “Est. 2019”? Is the sign outside the trendy coffee shop down the street proud to declare it was “Est. 2016”? Logos declaring the year that a company was founded are gaining rapid popularity. In particular, businesses like these seeking to adopt a hipster aesthetic appear to append an “Est.” to their logos just as often as they use crossed objects or mustaches in their trademarks. Why the sudden popularity of this visual quirk?

In recent years, “Est.” has made quite a comeback, appearing in trademarks at a rate 17 times higher in 2020 than in 1980.

Early 20th-century newspaper advertisements featuring “Est.” statements.

Before the use of corporate logos or illustrations became common practice in the 20th century, newspaper advertising was largely a typographic exercise. And aside from strategically setting your ad in one of the few typefaces available for use on the paper’s printing press or inserting a snappy slogan, there was little that companies could do to communicate a positive message, or vibe, about themselves. But one way to concisely tout a business’s bona fides was to attach an “Est.” followed by the year the company was founded in. This would show that the firm wasn’t some fly-by-night operation, but that it was trustworthy, legitimate, and, well, “established.”

This convention became widespread, eventually making its way into many company logos themselves, but over time it seemed to acquire an unfashionable air of stodginess.



James I. Bowie
Writer for

Principal at Emblemetric, Sociologist at Northern Arizona University. Data-driven reporting on trends in logo design: Emblemetric.com