The Bitcoin logo is nothing more than an inclined B inserted inside an orange circle, which has now become a marketing phenomenon as well as a fundamental symbol for the promotion of the most famous cryptocurrency in existence today. Creating a globally recognized logo that can be identified at a glance is no small feat; leading companies continue to spend tens of millions of euros to hire the best graphic designers to engage in this activity, which can involve even the smallest changes to their respective distinctive brands. The Bitcoin logo has reached a unique level of recognizability, and without any team ever overseeing the design process, let alone thanks to dedicated multimillion-dollar budgets. But who actually created the famous Bitcoin logo? Let’s try to find out together ..
How it all started
The very first logo used for Bitcoin was designed by none other than the creator of the cryptocurrency itself, the now famous Satoshi Nakamoto. The first iteration of Nakamoto’s logo appeared right after Bitcoin’s launch in early 2009, depicting a gold coin, embossed with the letters B C.
It was an example of the design philosophy called skeuomorphism, in which digital objects are designed to resemble their real-world counterparts. At that time, this style was very much in vogue; for example, the Apple iPhone logo, launched more or less in the same period, was in turn very heavily based on the aforementioned skeuomorphic design. Adopting that design philosophy has had several ripple effects; some have argued that Satoshi’s original representation of Bitcoin (a gold coin) indicated that he had conceived cryptocurrency as “digital gold” from the very beginning. Of course, the ethos of Bitcoin was centered around decentralization and with the advent of the Bitcoin Talk Forum (year 2010), other users soon added their own ideas regarding the debate on the presentation of the Bitcoin logo. Some have also supported the adoption of the cd. Ampersand (&) at some point. An idea that had gained good traction at the time was also to add a “T” to the pre-existing symbol that only reported “BC”; so much so that today the code of the three-letter currency represented by Bitcoin in exchanges is precisely “BTC”.
When the famous B in the logo debuts
Eager to please the most demanding, Satoshi decided to update his logo design in February 2010. Referring to the Thai baht symbol, the revised logo now depicted the now-famous “B” with the two vertical strokes affixed. Satoshi’s revised logo became interesting in light of early comments from Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney, who noted that “Interestingly, the dollar sign originated with two vertical bars rather than one, according to several theories.” However, some Forum users continued to criticize Satoshi’s efforts, arguing that the design lacked a more professional footprint. Thus, in November 2010, a new user of the Bitcoin Forum, aka “Bitboy”, proposed some improvements to Nakamoto’s design by publishing his graphics for free and consequently making them public. Keeping Nakamoto’s “B”, Bitboy made it white and placed it inside a flat and bright orange circle, tilting it with respect to the vertical axis, so that it hung to the right. The double vertical bar was also modified: instead of cutting the famous “B” in half, they now simply protruded from both the top and the bottom. This became Bitcoin’s lucky logo for years to come.
In particular, the Bitcoin logo now resembled to some extent that of other “payment methods”, thus leaving no longer any doubt about the use that the tool was intended. Bitboy stated that he was also partly inspired by the new Mastercard logo at the time, saying he was not a huge fan of credit cards, but that it was nevertheless exclusively “a matter of general perception, when it comes to trust and behavior of consumers “.
Who is behind the Bitboy pseudonym?
As already happened with Satoshi Nakamoto, even the identity of Bitboy remains totally unknown to this day. In 2017, Medium post author Phil Wilson said he was involved in both the design of Bitboy and the 2010 version of Nakamoto. He also stated that the design was imbued with symbolism. For example, the number eight appears multiple times within the logo. It not only looks like a B, but the letter is rotated clockwise by 13.88 degrees and the dimensions of the rectangles in the drawing were 12.5 in length (which is one eighth of 100). It must be said that Wilson has never produced any evidence to support this, therefore there remains more than a few doubts about the real extent of his direct involvement.
The Bitcoin logo today
With the price of Bitcoin reaching its new all-time high in recent months, touching $ 60,000, attention has rekindled on the precise identification of the smallest unit with which Bitcoin is usually measured: the cd. “Satoshi”, from the name of its creator. The Bitcoin community has historically struggled to reach a consensus on the design of the symbol to be adopted for individual satoshis, with many proposals submitted to the community of aficionados, including a combination of the letters “S” and “N” (from Satoshi Nakamoto , in fact). However, in November 2020, the community brought to the surface another idea: the cd. “S pointed” that children learn to draw already in school. Enthusiastic about the idea, the redditors of the section dedicated to Bitcoin created a new “satoshi” logo that imitated that of Bitcoin, even printing coins with 3D printers bearing the aforementioned symbol. The issue has continued to be hotly debated for several years, and while there has been a lot of excitement about it, there is still little indication of which design will actually prevail in the future. Another issue to address is that today not everyone is enthusiastic about leaving the main Bitcoin logo as Bitboy had conceived it, despite the longevity already demonstrated in the last decade. One group in particular, calling itself “Bitcoin Symbol” has lobbied to change the logo in recent years, arguing that, rather than “a logo”, what Bitcoin would need is “a symbol”, as is already the case. for the dollar, the euro and so on. That suggestion, first made in April 2014, was the letter Ƀ, which appears in several modern alphabets. Several Bitcoin startups have adopted this new symbol, but it cannot yet be said that the idea has managed to take off. The aforementioned objections to the Bitcoin logo follow a double directive. On the one hand, they oppose the use of a logo for philosophical reasons, pointing out that “Bitcoin being a decentralized currency – it cannot have the brand of a product or company, and what one needs to represent Bitcoin is instead a symbol, rather than a logo “. On the other hand, there are also practical problems with the use of a logo instead of a symbol: indeed, currencies that use symbols ($, €, ¥), which aim to be used by everyone, have a Unicode character which can be easily reproduced with many fonts on a wide variety of devices; a graphic logo, on the other hand, cannot do the same. The arguments of the Bitcoin Symbol movement have lost some of their voice in recent years, as the Bitcoin logo has now become increasingly well known and associated with the queen cryptocurrency. In February 2019, Google added a variant of the Bitboy Bitcoin symbol to their keyboards, and shortly thereafter Twitter followed suit by adding a dedicated emoji. The Bitcoin logo has apparently become a symbol itself. The essential design of the Bitcoin logo, its simplicity and its resemblance to the icons of major fiat currencies have cemented the design as a “new digital currency” in the minds of the general public. Despite the criticism, Bitboy’s riff on the 2010 version continues to hold up. But for how long?
The Bitcoin symbol (the stylized B) works precisely for its original simplicity and for the monetary association of double vertical lines, with similar currency signs such as dollar, yen, euro, lira, and so on. There are certainly aspects of the logo that could be improved, but for now no changes seem ready to be adopted. The slight clockwise tilt that the B of Bitcoin takes creates a cd. “Visual imbalance”. This is also a feature that is well suited to the unpredictability of Bitcoin’s change in value. Having reached today’s new heights, then, will it perhaps be more appropriate to straighten the inclined bands of Bitcoin? There is no doubt that if mitigating cryptocurrency volatility were as simple as changing its logo, it would probably have already been done.