A1 — ABBA
It seems fitting to be kicking off the perpetual BandLogoJukebox with a logo that runs from A to B and back again.
The ABBA logo is also one of the purest logos imaginable — pared down to its essentials, almost brutalist in its form. When it was first launched in 1976, its Nordic simplicity certainly went against the grain, as many contemporary bands espoused a more flamboyant, illustrative aesthetic.
The marque is the work of Swedish designer and art director Rune Söderqvist (1935–2014), who was also responsible for many of the band’s record sleeves. The four letters of the band’s name are set in News Gothic Bold, with the first B reversed. Probably just as well that ABBA had recently decided to combine their initials as a band name, after ditching the decidedly more clunky moniker Benny & Björn, Agnetha & Anni-frid.
There’s surprising scope for investigation and interpretation in such a simple design. ABBA is an acronym as well as a palindrome. The logo is totally symmetrical. The band (for most of its life at least) was made up of two couples — Agnetha and Björn and Benny and Anni-frid — which reflected in the two pairs of letters facing each other. Björn and Benny, the principal songwriters, sit at the heart of the group.
The beauty of such a simple visual device is its infinite versatility. The logo was used extensively, large and small, ranged left, right and centred in white, black, red, cyan, aubergine, gold, grey and pink. Usually, it played a supporting role to any number of cheesy 70s shots of the band, but notably it took centre stage on the greatest hits collection Abba Gold (along with a ® symbol, clearly recognising its value).
Abba’s music changed significantly during the decade they were together. The simple, joyous pop songs of the early days gave way to more introspective musings on the nature of relationships, fame and fate. Their melodies and arrangements became more complex and accomplished. Their personal relationships fractured.
But through all these twists and tribulations, the ABBA logo remained steadfastly, stoically the same. Its meaning open to endless interpretation, perhaps the final way to look at this remarkable graphic icon is Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-frid turning their backs on each other.
There's a slightly unedifying interview for Japanese media with Rune Söderqvist below, where he explains how the ABBA logo first came about.