Chasing Puma’s Iconic Cat Logo

The memorable logo of a puma served as a basis for the homonymous brand to create a recognized identity around the world. Its appearance inspires strength and speed, but there’s much more behind this symbolic drawing. This is the history of the Puma logo from its origins.

PumaRudolf Dassler

To begin with, the truth is that the drawing is not a puma but a panther. The creator of the logo, Lutz Backes, admitted that he drew a panther because its silhouette was more elegant than a puma’s, so he opted for the stylish figure of a panther and gave it the paws and the head of a puma. His design became the official logo of the sportswear brand on January 10, 1968, and it hasn’t changed since then. Lutz Backes also refused to receive a commission of a pfenning, a penny of the former Deutschmark, for each Puma item that got sold. The designer preferred a single payment of 600 marks, a quantity with which he would also get a sports bag and a pair of sneakers from the brand.

Another curiosity acknowledged by Backed was that the Puma founder, Rudolf Dassler, asked him the reason why he decided to draw such a long tail. “I always have to pay for the space the advertisement occupies”, he said to the designer.

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But let’s go back to the very beginning. Puma was founded in 1948 under the name of “Ruda”, drawn from the first syllables of Rudolf Dassler. The German founder pursued a way of becoming independent from his brother, who followed his own path creating adidas. But the name Ruda didn’t go down well, and he chose to preserve only the vocals. That’s when Puma’s name first saw the light, and with it the first logo of this cat. The first illustration showed a puma leaping over the letter “D” and was designed by Dassler himself.

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Three years after, this logo was placed inside a hexagon, using a simple geometric outline. Afterwards, in 1957, this outline became double-layered, colored in black and white and with the “Puma” letters. A year after that, they changed the background and left it blank, adding the inscription “Rudolf Dassler Schuhfabrik” in between the two outlines of the hexagon.

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In 1958 they changed completely the aesthetics of the brand and their emblem became a football boot during years, together with the sentence “Puma form-strip”. That’s when this strip was created, first as a reinforcement for the sides, to end up being an identity sign from the brand.

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Lutz Backes arrived in 1968 to begin the evolution of what would become the logo we know today. At first, the puma (or that hybrid between puma and panther) appeared in a completely horizontal position.

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In 1970, the silhouette was changed to represent the leap of a puma. This design didn’t include any fill, marked only by the outline.

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But only four years after, they decided that the former design worked better, so once again, they painted the cat in black and added the word “Puma” next to the drawing, contoured by a rectangle. The typography copied the version from 1958.

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In 1976 they picked up the experiment and took a chance on the name of the brand, saying goodbye to the animal. The typo changed radically, using oblique letters that were underlined by the Formstrip silhouette.

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In 1978 they regretted it again. They went back to the former font and rescued the puma. Now, the puma seemed to jump over the name of the brand, creating a more dynamic look. They gave the Formstrip another try in 1988, incorporating a translucent one over the Puma letters, but this idea didn’t last long.

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And that’s how the Puma logo settled down as we know it today. They tried a new version in 2003 that showed a bright red square with the animal and the name in white, what made the brand to also be identified with the color red. Although the official Puma logo is the one from 1978, the brand still plays sometimes with their signature image to add a retro aesthetic to some of their garments, like shown in this Puma Evide AOP Crop Top. And this is just how life works, being a constant change, and who better than Puma to show that there’s nothing wrong with it.

puma