You have certainly heard of this magazine in your youth or because of its reputation. Today we are going to learn more about the origin of the world's most famous rabbit: the Playboy bunny. Let's find out how the magazine kept its original logo for over 65 years; here is the history and meaning of the Playboy logo.
In 1953, Hugh Marston Hefner decided to start his own publishing business in Chicago and created the Playboy magazine. With his partner, it took them some time to find the right name. The magazine concept, on the contrary, was already ready. Sell a magazine with erotic images of women to a male clientele, preferably single, with a trend for polygamy. A fairly simple and basic concept, you could say. However, there were also articles on fashion and etiquette (in the manner of Hugh Hefner, of course), and later there would even be political publications. The problem was that it was not the only type of magazine selling on the market, so he had to promise that his magazine would be unique to attract investors and release his first issue.
On December 1, 1953, the first Playboy issue was released, and the cover had none other than the wonderful Marilyn Monroe in the nude as the first Playboy girl, which she had been blackmailed a few years earlier to do. Of course, it was an immediate success, more than 50,000 copies sold in a few weeks, allowing the release of a second issue in January 1954. Playboy grew very quickly and expanded internationally with local editions. Playboy had also become more than a magazine. There was a television show in the late 50s and early 60s with the appearance of many black artists and bands, including Ella Fitzgerald, in order to challenge segregationist laws. 'Playboy Club' nightclubs appeared, which had live performances by artists like Aretha Franklin. Of course, the internet allowed an expansion of the industry with the sale of all types of clothing for men and women and furniture for your home as if you lived in the Playboy mansion.
Unfortunately for Playboy, staying on newsstands was becoming more difficult, so in 2020, the company stopped publishing their magazine. Over the years, several celebrities figured in the publication as bunnies, like Samantha Fox and Debbie Gibson.
The Playboy bunny logo is distinct as it has existed since the creation of the company in 1953. At the time of writing, we were on the cusp of celebrating 70 years of Playboy and its brand. Before we tell you about the famous rabbit, we will talk about its sketch. Before the official creation of the logo, there was a sketch quite different from the final version. There was a rabbit in a tuxedo jacket with a cigarette in its mouth and a glass in its hand. It was then staged in a modern location surrounded by nude statues, cocktails, wood pipes, and trophies. Really the typical target of Playboy magazine.
How did this fairly well-surrounded rabbit become Playboy's simplistic bunny? It is thanks to designer Art Paul, who, in 1953, in the space of 30 minutes, would simplify the sketch by keeping the main image: the rabbit. Art Paul, therefore, created a combined logo, a logo with an icon and the name of the company. Subsequently, the bunny logo would become so recognizable that it would become a symbol logo, which is a logo that is recognized by its icon without the need for the company name to be with it.
But how did the rabbit end up as the flagship animal of the brand? Hugh Hefner answered the question during an interview and to quote him: "The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning, and I chose it because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping – sexy. First, it smells you, then it escapes, then it comes back, and you want to caress it, to play with it. A girl resembles a bunny, joyful, joking." So, you can read into it, the rabbit has a meaning close to the vision of Playboy with his playmates. The rabbit also represents comfort, vulnerability, and desire. So, Art Paul drew a rabbit in 2D with a bow tie, all in black. The bow tie is meant to represent the class, the gentleman. The color black simply represents sophistication, success, and simplicity.
As for the typography of PLAYBOY, it is nothing exceptional. It is a serif typography in bold, capital letters, and always black, which makes sense since the logo was originally used on print. The positive side of this 2D and black logo style is that you can easily customize it the way you want. If there was a need for a special edition and wanted to change the color of the logo, you could easily do so.
The Playboy slogan was created at the same time as the bunny logo, it was simply "Entertainment for Men", which implied that the magazine was only published for men who loved women. Understandably, it was another time, and if anyone had this type of magazine, it was rare to leave it lying around on the living room coffee table for everyone to see. Playboy was certainly this type of magazine, but with a certain class, original vision, fashion articles, and progressive political opinions. While Playboy championed women and the LGBTQ+ community, it wasn't until 2018 that the company changed its slogan to "Pleasure for all."
Since there are no more printed publications of Playboy magazines nowadays, you could think that the bunny logo is outdated. Surprisingly, it is not. Playboy managed to diversify its brand by using promotional items people can purchase. Whether you are looking for a T-shirt or some elegant underwear, you can find the bunny logo on a significant number of items. In sum, they were saying that you did not have to live in the Playboy mansion to experience the lifestyle. It was a great business move.
Now that you know where the Playboy logo comes from, we're going to ask ourselves how you can get inspired by it to create your logo. First, the color black. It's true that using a single color, black can seem very simplistic, but it's still a very all-round color if you can't find the right colors to represent your company. As well, you can always change the color later. Then, simplicity: The rabbit has been simplified to the maximum compared to its sketch to make it simple and memorable. The simplicity of this logo has made it timeless. Of course, we will not hide it from you, it is also thanks to the industry in which Hugh Hefner embarked that was revolutionary for the time. Once his brand was established, he did not feel the need to do a redesign. His logo was striking from the beginning of the company. One specificity that the Playboy logo had was that you had to have fun finding it on the cover, so the logo could leave a last impression on you.
In conclusion, the Playboy bunny logo is much more than a simple emblem. It is a whole world, including the Playboy mansion, a lifestyle, and strong branding. Now you know how this mythical rabbit logo was created and the image it conveys. If you'd like to learn more about our animal logo stories, check out: The History and Meaning of the Red Bull Logo.