Last Updated on November 18, 2022
Nintendo Co., Ltd. (formerly Nintendo Karuta) is a Japanese multinational company that develops video games and video game consoles. Nintendo was founded on 23 September 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi. The company is headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. Its products are available worldwide.
Nintendo originally majored in the production of handmade hanafuda playing cards before venturing into the video game industry. The company has since released tons of popular video game franchises, including Mario, Pokémon, Super Smash Bros, etc.
In this article, we focus on Nintendo’s logo and examine how the badge has changed through time.
Nintendo Logo Appearance
The lettering is in white and executed in the lowercase except for the first letter “N.” The racetrack enclosure is equally executed in white. The entire design – the wordmark plus the racetrack enclosure – is placed inside a red rectangular background.
The Nintendo logo has appeared in multiple colors through the years. However, the company currently seems to favor the red and white color palette.
White is used for the wordmark as well as the racetrack enclosure in which the logotype is set, whereas red is the background color for the rectangle where the rest of the design is executed.
The font used for the wordmark appearing on Nintendo’s logo is unique and not based on any pre-existing typefaces. But lettering looks quite similar to a font known as Pretendo.
Pretendo is a bold, thick, sans-serif typeface designed by Erwin Denissen. The font was initially released in 1999 through Denissen’s High Logic Font Foundry.
Pretendo stands out for its bold texture and balanced features, which makes it suitable for use on both casual and professional design projects.
The typeface boasts 53 glyphs and 251 characters. Its character range includes 93 basic Latin, 17 punctuation marks, 9 spacing modifiers, 14 mathematical operators, etc..
Pretendo also supports numerous languages, including lesser-known languages like Ibanag, Lojban, Jèrriais, etc. Note that Pretendo is marketed as a commercial font. That means you’ll need to purchase its full license before applying it to your design projects.
Nintendo Logo Symbolism
The racetrack enclosure on Nintendo’s logo communicates the company’s main focus – gaming. Although the video game industry has evolved tremendously since Nintendo’s establishment, the vast majority of these games still involve high-speed racetrack competitions.
Symbolism of the Colors
Red is associated with love, passion, power, and energy. The color reflects Nintendo’s passion and vivacity for developing high-quality video games and video game consoles.
White is the color of purity and innocence. However, Nintendo probably used the red-white color palette to increase its logo’s visibility.
Although Nintendo’s logo utilizes a racetrack enclosure and a rectangular background, the logo is predominantly wordmark-based. The company uses its full name on its official logos as a way of drawing attention to its brand.
But what’s the inspiration behind the name ‘Nintendo?’
The word “Nintendo” derives from a combination of three hieroglyphs – nin, ten, and do. The actual translation of this phrase has been a subject of debate for decades. However, the widely accepted meaning is ‘leave fate to heaven’ or ‘leave luck to heaven.’
Nintendo might have settled on the name to indicate that luck plays a huge role in determining one’s success in video games.
Another translation of the phrase ‘nin ten do’ is “the temple of free hanafuda.” This translation doesn’t seem to be relevant to Nintendo’s industry though.
Nintendo Logo History
Nintendo’s first logo was simply the company’s name, written in dark blue and executed in Kanji. The wordmark was set inside a rectangle.
Two red triangles were located on the upper corners of the rectangle. The lower part of the rectangle was painted yellow. This is where the dark blue wordmark appeared.
The reason Nintendo’s first logo was executed in Kanji is because the company’s market was still local. So, there was a need to localize its branding materials too. Nintendo used this logo from 1989 to 1950.
1950 – 1960
Nintendo’s original logo stayed with the company for more than sixty years before getting the first upgrade. The main reason the company redesigned its logo is that it had now started penetrating Western markets.
1960 – 1964
Over the next couple of years, Nintendo’s badge mainly featured the company’s name in calligraphy. The only difference was the fonts and colors used.
You’ll also realize that some of Nintendo’s logo versions overlapped. So, there are certain periods during which the company used more than one badge.
In the 1960-1964 version, the logo appeared in elegant and sleek lettering. The wordmark was in black, with some of its letters elongated and curved.
1964 – 1965
1964 – 1967
In 1964, Nintendo’s logo became neater and cleaner. The letters were no longer curved or elongated. Instead, the wordmark was executed in a bold, black color and slightly slanted to the right.
1965 – 1967
The previous version of Nintendo’s logo received minor tweaks. The black color became lighter. Also, the logo abandoned its slanted orientation and was now horizontally placed. This is considered one of the most simplistic yet professional logos Nintendo has ever used.
1965 – 1970
Nintendo’s logo introduced in 1965 featured the monogram NG (for Nintendo Game), enclosed in a thin round frame.
The logo appeared in a red and white color palette. Red was used for the monogram and the outline of the circular frame, whereas white was used as the background color.
1967 – 1975
1968 – 1970
During this period, Nintendo’s wordmark appeared in a hexagonal badge. The wordmark was still in red, although the shade of red became brighter and more vivid. The hexagonal badge was also drawn in red and set against a white background.
1970 – 1975
Nintendo’s logo first appeared with the racetrack enclosure in 1970. The wordmark retained its red color and the racetrack enclosure was also executed in red and set on a white background.
1975 – Present
Nintendo reverted to a simple English-based logo in 1975. The logo featured the company’s wordmark in a solid black color. This version of Nintendo’s logo is still used today. However, it’s not as popular as the racetrack-based one.
1977 – 2003
Another version of Nintendo’s logo was used during this period. It featured the company’s lettering written in black and placed inside a black racetrack enclosure set on a white background.
2016 – Present
As you may have noticed, there are a couple of Nintendo’s previous logos that are still in use to date.
However, the main badge the company’s products and branding materials appear in is the one with a white wordmark inside a white racetrack enclosure placed on a red rectangular background.
Nintendo’s logo has changed dramatically through the years. These changes reflect the company’s readiness to experiment with better technology until it finds what works for its clients.