Ford Nearly Let a Graphic Design Legend Replace Its Blue Oval Brand in 1966

Ford’s script wordmark emblem is immediately recognizable even on its earliest fashions, however the well-known blue oval virtually bought a glossy replace in 1966 by the hands of considered one of historical past’s most legendary graphic designers. 

Paul Rand’s design work is all however unavoidable, particularly in emblem type. He is the person chargeable for ABC’s spherical community emblem in addition to the Cummins C and even Enron’s notorious “crooked E.” His long-running UPS emblem that includes an up to date firm protect with just a little field on prime deserves a comeback, however I digress. He did quite a few journal and advert designs as effectively that helped set the brilliant, high-contrast, high-impact temper for the mid-century period and past. 

Rand introduced a proposal for an up to date Ford emblem in March 1966, which you’ll be able to learn in its entirety right here on a website devoted to Rand’s work. It is instantly recognizable as a Ford emblem, but it surely’s been pared-down for the glossy, fashionable sixties. 

The proposal for Rand’s new emblem is especially fascinating, because it dives into the fancy-schmancy design tendencies that have been at work when Ford’s first wordmark was created: 

“Graphic identification was seen extra as creative embellishment than purposeful necessity. Enterprise logotypes had a sort of ‘raised pinky’ magnificence impressed by quite a lot of 17th century Copperplate scripts, weighted and vulgarized to go well with the wants of commerce. Fanciful typefaces and decorative extravagances of each description additional typified the temper of the time. One was, nevertheless, affected extra by the ingenuous attraction of those designs than by their real look. And ‘charming graphics’ have been hardly a match for the daring mechanical creativeness of the day.

The graphics of 1900 have been, in a way, a product of the time: life was extra elaborate, extra ceremonious. There have been fancy speeches, fancy customs, fancy hats and fancy parlors — all, certainly, appropriate with fancy nameplates and escutcheons.”

Even Ford’s mass-produced everyman’s automobile could not escape the early 1900s’ pattern of fancy ornamentation. 

The sixties have been the precise reverse. Less complicated modernist types have been in, and Rand believed that Ford’s blue oval wordmark was “incongruous in level of time with its setting.” But the Blue Oval’s blue oval was well-known. Rand believed the perfect replace would “make a big change in fashion whereas retaining significant figuring out traits of the previous home mark.”

The textual content underwent essentially the most drastic change. Rand was decided to tug it into the current day, emphasizing that less complicated types are related to operate, pace and effectivity and would higher signify what Ford made. Rand’s proposal explains:

“The home mark of Ford Motor Firm ought to replicate the authority and confidence the corporate and its merchandise benefit. It ought to look purposeful and it ought to be purposeful. It shouldn’t be characterised by melodramatic swirls and theatrical prospers, however by a frank and unpretentious, virtually disarming simplicity, achieved by the use of geometry and ordered relationships, with easy traces and types which can be measurable and manageable, and which replicate the precision of the machines they assist to establish. It ought to counsel power, pace, effectivity and utility. It ought to be clear and concise, with a sort of magnificence and precision which movement not from the quill however from the compass and ruling pen. It is going to then emerge an integral a part of the machine design, reasonably than ornamental decalcomania.”

In his replace, he flattened the highest and the underside of the oval as he did not really feel as if a normal oval was distinctive sufficient from each different oval form on the market. It is an fascinating replace as a result of even with all these adjustments, you possibly can nonetheless acknowledge it from far-off as Ford’s blue oval. The body across the oval was built-in as an attention-grabbing extension of the wordmark as effectively. 

Rand additionally illustrated examples of the brand new emblem in use on dealership signage, stationery, adverts and buildings. Finally, it wasn’t meant to be. 

As cool as it’s, I am glad Ford did not run with it. Whereas Rand’s still-used emblem for IBM nonetheless seems to be recent and fashionable, this 1966 Ford design seems to be a bit dated now, particularly compared to the beginning methods Volkswagen and BMW have not too long ago simplified their logos even additional. We might have even ended up with one thing drastically totally different as a Ford emblem at the moment after one other redesign. 

You’ll be able to view the opposite illustrated examples in Rand’s emblem presentation right here. 

[H/T Midwest Modern via Lux Ferre!]

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