Coupled Up

In today's Logoform, SEA's Ryan Jones looks at a marque which is both a palindrome and an acronym, reflecting the names (and intertwined love lives) of the band's four members.

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“They've flipped the B, so what?” My mum liked ABBA, as did most people in the 1970's I guess. I remember being trusted at a young age to take the black vinyl out of the inner bag, place it on the turntable, select 33rpm, and place the needle in the groove. Boom. We had Arrival, The Visitors, Voulez-Vous and Super Trooper all the sleeves featured glamorous (and sometimes not-so-glamorous) pictures of the band in various poses in addition to the band logo – always at the top – I assume so that people could find the record when flicking through the ‘A’ rack in Woolworths. There was a certain strangeness to their logo which got me thinking. One of the ‘B’s was flipped – was it some strange Swedish character? It was only years later I found the reason why.

When it comes to the name ABBA, it seems all the stars had aligned over Scandinavia in 1972, a celestial moment provided for the four band members in the group’s names all to start with either an A or a B. ABBA was born.

ABBA is both a palindrome and an acronym. What makes the group really interesting is that the band members were two couples. The flipping of the B in the logo is symbolic, both B’s oriented towards the A's. Agnetha faces Björn, Benny faces Anni-Frid. Four people, two relationships, one logo. Perfect.

The logo was designed in 1976 by Swedish artist and designer Rune Söderqvist using News Gothic Bold. Some reckon the logo could work with any typeface as the idea in the name, but I disagree. The choice of News Gothic was perfect, the weight choice spot on. I think this is a classic case of keeping things simple. No need to overcomplicate it, everything that is needed is there. No more, no less.

The logo first appeared on ABBA's fourth studio album, Arrival, released in October 1976. Since then, the registered logo has used on all official products.

In 2008, Spinner magazine placed the ABBA logo at number 13 in its survey of the greatest rock band logos of all time.

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ABBA, Arrival, 1976