Fascinating and Surprising – MGM Logo History

If you ever used to watch Tom and Jerry as a kid, or if you’re a fan of classic movies, then no doubt you’ll be familiar with the classic MGM logo.

As far as iconic logos go, this one is pretty hard to beat!

The MGM logo featured a large ribbon that formed a circle. Underneath is a small lion and above the circle are the words ‘Metro Goldwyn Myer’.

The logo also has the words ‘Trade’ and ‘Mark’ on either side – which is quite unique!

But the most stand out feature of all?

That would of course be the huge lion right in the middle. And on film, this lion would actually be fully animated and roar in the center.

How did this unique logo come to be?

Where has it gone?

And how did it evolve over the years?

It’s actually a rather interesting story…

MGM Logo History – Types of Logos

This is a word mark/emblem but it also incorporates a mascot.

A mascot meanwhile is any character that is used to represent your brand. Disney’s mascot is of course Mickey Mouse.

Nintendo has Mario.

SEGA has Sonic.

Andrex has the Andex Puppy.

Frosted Flakes has Tony the Tiger…

And MGM has ‘Leo the Lion’!

That’s right, the lion in the center of that logo isn’t just any lion but a specific lion called Leo! Or maybe ‘Leos’ would be more appropriate, seeing as there have been seven different lions used in total to this point.

Using mascots in this way creates more avenues for promotion and marketing.

For example, if you were to visit MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas several years ago, you would have seen a lion habitat!

The enclosure cost a whopping $9 million but would have been a great piece of marketing.

Mascots also help to lend a company more personality, which is something that we tend to find very memorable as customers and which can tell us more about the values of the business behind them.

Lions evoke a certain regal elegance and this is further echoed in the gold color scheme and the name ‘Grand’ for the hotel.

MGM Lion Logo History – Birth of an Iconic

MGM was born when Samuel Goldwyn’s studio merged with Metro pictures (belonging to Marcus Loew) and another studio owned by Louis B. Mayer.

This gave the name ‘Metro Goldwyn Myer’ and around this time the MGM logo was created.

MGM Lion Logo History Birth of Iconic - LogoWhistle

The first MGM logo was born in 1924 and already looked very similar to the one we know and love.

However, there is no color and there is far less detail involved.

The lion was originally called ‘Slats’ (before being renamed Leo) and was trained by Volneyphifer after being born in Dublin Zoo.

So why the lion?

The logo’s designer Howard Dietz (a well-known publicist, lyricist and librettist), who chose the lion to honour his Alma mater Columbia University whose sports teams went by the nickname ‘The Lions’.

Interestingly though, Slats did not ‘roar’ in the video as his successors would go on to – but would rather just look around quietly.

In 1936, Slats sadly died.

However, you can still see him on display at the McPherson Museum, Kansas!

Evolution Of MGM Logo

Over the years many more lions came and went, as did several different iterations of the logo.

The seven lions so far include:

  • Slats
  • Jackie
  • Telly
  • Tanner
  • George
  • Leo

That’s right – today’s Leo the lion is the first to have actually been called Leo at birth!

Leo also happens to be MGM’s longest serving lion.

He appeared at the start of most MGM films starting from 1957 and was the youngest lion at the time (you can see this if you look at his relatively small mane!).

For a while, the company moved away from its classic logo.

One attempt to update the logo featured a ‘stylized’ monochromatic golden lion on a blue background encased in a simple circle.

For a while Leo was reinstated shortly after but this more corporate print logo saw wide use by MGM Resorts International and following a merger with United Artists it became more common.

But more recently, the full logo with the ribbons, text and drama mask have been reintroduced.

Leo too has seen a digital overhaul for his appearance on the recent Bond films.


What do we stand to learn from the fascinating MGM Logo History?

Well, other than the power of incorporating a mascot into your logo design, this is also a fantastic testament to the importance of logos in general.

MGM is a studio that has a huge amount of history and prestige and a lot of this is actually down to Leo’s appearance.

Logo design packages can also be used to create a logo that will best represent your business. With the right package, you can create an eye-catching logo that communicates your message effectively.

Who knows, maybe your logo will one day be just as iconic and have its own rich back story.

Welcome to LogoWhistle! We are so excited to have you here. If you have any questions about our Logo design services, Portfolio or just need to get in touch, please feel free to Contact us.