The History of Goodwill's Logo

By: Jessica Hudgins Smith

As Goodwill commemorates 100 years of service in the Denver area, we're also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the adoption of our iconic logo. Known as the “Smiling G,” the award-winning logo represents the many smiling faces and positive impacts achieved through Goodwill programs and services, every day.

In 1968, Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Boston—the original and founding Goodwill body—began to search for an updated visual to reflect the brand. The team selected legendary graphic designer Joseph Selame to create a logo that would symbolize the many faces of self-sustaining people within Goodwill. He used a lowercase “g” twice in his logo, which served as the letter itself and a smile. When the letter "g" is enlarged above the font, it forms a face that depicts the smile of self-respect and independence,—qualities that are outcomes of Goodwill's mission to inspire hope and self-confidence in people with barriers to employment as they learn how to earn a living and improve their lives. Selame is also well-known for creating logos for such brands as CVS and Kodak.

Goodwill's Smiling G Logo

Goodwill's current "Smiling G" logo was created in 1968 by graphic designer Joseph Selame.

Before we had the "Smiling G," we had the "Good Willy" logo. A cartoon depiction of an eager young man in a wheelchair, "Good Willy" was designed by Ohio artist Milton Caniff in the early 1950's. "Good Willy" became so popular in the 50's, many Goodwills brought him to life via costumes and mascots for special events held across the country. A "Good Willy" statue was even presented to then-President Richard Nixon in 1969!

Goodwill's Good Willy logo

The "Good Willy" cartoon was created by Milton Caniff in 1951.

The very first logo approved as the symbol for Goodwill Industries was designed in the early 1920's. It featured a Maltese Cross and gained wide acceptance across North America. It carried the message, "Serving the Nation's Handicapped. The Goodwill Way." Many Goodwill organizations across the country, including Goodwill Industries of Denver, used this symbol or a slight variation of it. One of the variations included an alternate slogan, "Not a Charity, But a Chance."

A variation of Goodwill's Maltese Cross logo

A variation of Goodwill's Maltese Cross logo with an alternate slogan that was in circulation through the 1950's.

Today, the Smiling G is one of the most recognized symbols in the world. In addition to Goodwill retail stores, the logo can be seen on billboards and television shows — it even made an appearance twice on the hit gameshow Jeopardy!

“Our logo is more than a brand asset, something you see in a newspaper article or online. The Smiling G is our core at Goodwill,” said Stuart Davie, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Denver. “That smile represents the millions of people around the globe Goodwill exists to serve. It is a constant reminder in everything that we do, and why we do it.”

Goowill's original Maltese Cross logo

Goodwill's first logo was designed in the 1920's and featured a Maltese Cross.

The Smiling G logo stands as an emblem of Goodwill’s mission — helping people reach their full potential through the power of work. One out of every 200 hires in the U.S. economy are made with the help of Goodwill, and this has been consistent for the past three years. Last year, Goodwill placed more than 313,000 people into employment, and provided more than 34,000 people with digital skills training across the country. Here in the Denver metro area, Goodwill Industries of Denver serves nearly 27,000 Coloradans in need annually.  

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