The Complete History of The Nickelodeon Logo

We can all recognize the Nickelodeon logo, kids and adults alike, and it’s not just because of the name. It’s in the color, feel, and memories too.

Nickelodeon’s choice to focus on child-based entertainment was an innovative approach to television when it first started. In fact, to this day, most people in the US think of it as the first American cable network exclusively for kids.

As the kid’s network, Nick offers a simple yet cheerful and futuristic logo. In the latest interactions, it is typically an orange wordmark in lowercase sans–serif typeface. It also showcases an iconic letter—I, which ups the playful, childlike vibe.

The Nickelodeon logo is among the most widely appreciated and influential logos globally. The first true iteration of it came out after 1977’s purple badge in 1979. It was then updated in 1981, 1984, and 2009 before seeing the latest version grace viewers today.

The designers choose to write the brand’s name in sans–serif font, consistently keeping with modern trends. Typefaces have included Odin Becker and Windsor in the earliest designs, Frankfurter, Balloon Extra Bold, and Harry Squeezed Fat, with the iconic, uniquely designed I.

About Nickelodeon

As you likely know, Nickelodeon is a US cable channel for kids, established in 1979. It was the first one to specialize exclusively in children’s content. Dr. Vivian Horner founded Nickelodeon. She was known for her love for children, passion for education, and experience with several different organizations. She created Pinwheel, which first aired on December 1st, 1977, and was the only program that aired from 7 am to 9 pm every day.

Based in New York, Nickelodeon has a targeted audience ranging from two years old to seventeen years. It also has a few programs for a family audience. It started operating in Columbus, Ohio.

On 1st April 1979, the network changed its name from C–3 to Nickelodeon. This name nods to the 19th century when movie theaters across the country charged a nickel (five-cent) to watch their film features.

Warner–Amex Satellite Communication owned the network at this time. In 1986, Viacom bought the network. The package deal included Nickelodeon and its sister stations—MTV and VH1. Nick Jr, a weekday morning show for preschoolers, came out on January 4th, 1988. Some of the most successful shows that aired during this time were Bubble Guppies and PAW Patrol.

In 1991, the company launched Nicktoons. These original animated movies were produced solely for the channel and included the Loud House and It’s Pony.

In 2006, the network started working with DreamWorks Animation to produce cartoon films for Nickelodeon’s audience. This included the Penguins of Madagascar and other classics.

Today, Nickelodeon has grown into a massive corporation that operates globally, with its programs and cartoons available in English and Spanish.

Nickelodeon’s Logo Over Time

The logo itself has also grown and changed over the years. Let’s take an in-depth look at its logo through time.

Nickelodeon logo 1979
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The Original Logo for Nickelodeon (1979)

If you don’t count the original Pinwheel logo or the logo for the channel that Nickelodeon started on, the network first launched its Nickelodeon name-based logo in 1979. While the other two did exist prior to this one, it’s here that the channel officially started using its name and designing a logo explicitly for it.

On April 1st, 1979, Nickelodeon officially launched under this name and introduced its intriguing logo. The artist whipped up this “old-school” emblem from two primary graphical elements—a symbol and a typeface. The wordmark showcased a stylized capital letter N that looked like a kinetoscope, a nickelodeon projector machine.

The logo also featured a man in a black suit and hat looking down through the letter N. Below the capitalized, black wordmark sat the channel’s tagline, “the young people’s satellite network,” in capital letters. The name itself was bold and geometric in a san–serif font against a neutral background. In the upper right corner, the Trademark (™) icon was used for the first and last time.

Nickelodeon logo 1980s
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Nickelodeon’s Logo from 1980-1981 

1980 saw no additional elements but a change in fonts. It was a semi-bold, old-style serif. The capital ’N’ was more of a cursive serif at the upper left end with a sans at the lower right lower. There was also an unbracketed slab on two other edges. The vowels and the last “n” were asymmetrical.

The type featured a classic wordmark, and the man with a hat was left behind. The designer also eliminated the projector and the tagline underneath the name. The letter—N was updated and received a curved line that mimicked a tail. The lettering was sharp and balanced while still being unique and readable. It also kept its black hue. However, it didn’t last long.

Nickelodeon logo  1981
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The 1981-1984 Nickelodeon Logo

This new era in television and pop culture changed dramatically. So, the network redesigned its logo to fit those vibes. Similar to many logos and brands of the 80s, Nickelodeon went for bright and colorful. This logo lasted about three years. It also came with a purple and gray three–dimensional globe or pinball that sat behind the wordmark, executed in a rainbow of colors.

The logo was a colorful and memorable version of their name designed by Lou Dorfsman. Additionally, each of the rounded sans-serif letters with their own color shifted from yellow to purple and green, paired perfectly with the era’s style and represented this new generation of kids’ TV.

Nickelodeon logo
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The modern sans-serif typeface offered playful stencils on both letter “Os” in Balloon font. It was stylish and memorable, especially when paired with the success of the channel during that time. Just ask any child of the 80s, and you’ll hear all about their amazing programming and the iconic orange logo.

Nickelodeon logo 1984-2009
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The 1984-2009 Logo for Nickelodeon

A new and lasting change for the Nickelodeon logo started in 1984. The company chose its signature colors of orange and white, which represented happiness and evoked smiles. The logo was now an orange wordmark on a white background. Several versions were created between 1984 and 2009 for varying situations. Fans of the channel saw white lettering on an orange splat, an orange inscription with a white outline, and a shortened “Nick” version.

Nickelodeon logo  with splash
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The 2009-Current Nickelodeon Logo

The latest iteration of the channel’s logo was made in 2009. It’s especially playful and embraces a current trend in logos with none of the letters capitalized. The trademark showcases an orange wordmark but with different lettering, which is smooth, rounded, and readable. Additionally, the I resembles a keyhole, with the dot and the body combined, making the logo look particularly unique. This version of the logo is known by many as adventurous and outstanding.

Nickelodeon Logo Key Elements

You can tell that experts worked on each of the logos that Nickelodeon has had. The designers observed graphic design rules and incorporated relevant graphic elements that resonate with their brand. Let’s look at the elements below:

1. The Hat–man:

The hat–man was the key piece of Nickelodeon’s original design and drew the most attention. The man in a black hat and professional attire represented the professionals behind the brand, creating something of quality.

2. The Projector:

The logo with the “hat man” also included the projector itself, created using the letter N. It stood for a kinetoscope, an early type of projector that represented that Nickelodeon was a company about movies/motion pictures.

3. The Globe:

The colorful wordmark of the 80s was accompanied by a shiny globe, which also looked a bit like a pinball. The company wanted it to symbolize its goal to reach children everywhere and provide meaningful educational programming as well as fun.

Nickelodeon Logo Color Scheme

The rainbow trademark, of course, included all the colors. However, there were three primary colors that the brand stuck with for the majority of the time:


Black was the primary color in the two earliest logo designs. Black can be both intimidating and exciting. Black is the absence of light in many instances, and graphic artists and brand experts have used it to represent power, authority, professionalism, and leadership. This does lean toward what the brand was focusing on at the beginning, that air of expertise, but it wasn’t connecting with their kid-centric content.


The signature color of the brand from the late 80s to now is orange. It’s a great choice for conveying the network’s focus on children’s entertainment. The youthful color represents happiness, creativity, warmth, and joy. This update was likely one of the smartest moves by the brand because it’s immediately recognizable and connects much better with its goals.


Almost all of Nickelodeon’s logo designs have had white as their background. White is perfect for bringing in balance and contrast. It’s clean, simple, and bright.

Lesson from the Nickelodeon Logo

The Logo Is Modest:

From the first design to the most current, Nickelodeon favored clean logo designs for a simple visual identity. The current logo is just the brand’s name with intriguing, playful uses of font and specific lettering styles, particularly the trademark I.

The Logo Is Memorable:

Simple logos are easier to remember. Because the design isn’t too busy and doesn’t combine too many elements of the brand to craft a personality, it’s striking and easily identifiable. What’s more, that simplicity doesn’t make it boring. It still evokes fun and happiness.

The Logo Is Transferable:

Logos need to be able to be scaled effortlessly. It’s a design requirement. You want to reach people where they are on any platform. Nickelodeon’s logo communicates with its target audience on any marketing channel thanks to its simplicity and contrast.

The Logo Is Unique:

Outstanding, eye-catching logos are a huge part of standing out from the competition and leaving your mark. Nickelodeon, like every iconic trademark, is “practically perfect in every way.” It’s different from other brands out there, and the logo’s modified letter I makes it exceptionally unique.

The Logo Is Consistent:

Brand consistency builds consumer/customer loyalty and trust, and you can’t build it overnight. When the 1984 orange logo made its debut, it hit the mark very well, and since then, the logo has kept its values with only a few updates. Over the past three decades, the brand has kept its logo consistent, which built identifiability, trust, and consumer loyalty.