The Cyclone

Remember this logo?

It wasn’t the first DIRECTV logo, but it was the one that everyone saw when the company was at the height of its growth in the early ’00s. Typographically it’s not the most inventive, but the basic design was clever in a sort of 1960s’ classic way.

The best logos

The best logos are ones that you appreciate more, as you look more at them. Some of the all-time classics came from superdesigner Saul Bass. He’s the guy behind the classic AT&T and Bell System logos, as well as tons of others.

If any of those look familiar, thank Saul Bass.

Saul Bass didn’t design the DIRECTV logo, though. But it’s pretty clear that the person who did was influenced by his work.

What’s so clever about that logo?

In its day, this logo was called “the Cyclone Device.” It’s supposed to represent three things:

The yellow rectangle is the shape of a TV. In earlier versions of the logo it wasn’t “widescreen,” but as HD started to come in, the logo evolved.

There’s a letter “D” in the logo too, which stands for “DIRECTV” and also “Digital.”

There’s a third shape, too, hiding in what’s called the “negative space.” It’s supposed to remind you of a tornado or cyclone. Keep in mind this logo was created at a time when severe weather was less common. The cyclone is a powerful force that comes down to the sky straight to a home. That’s also a pretty good description of DIRECTV, and even better, DIRECTV doesn’t turn your house into 100,000 matchsticks. I think we all agree that’s for the best.

Will we see the return of the Cyclone?

I guess, never say never, but right now AT&T is really firm about keeping all their brands consistent. That’s why they moved to the AT&T globe logo in 2015. But, ideas about branding are always changing, and we could see a change that brings back that nostalgic logo at some time in the future.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.