In 1966, Henry Ford II asked famed graphic designer Paul Rand to update the Ford corporate logo. This is what he came up with. Why didn't it take?
According to legend, Ford's current logo, with its Spencerian script and elegant appearance, is derived from the business card of one of the company's first executives. (If the font looks familiar, that's because the same basic typeface is used in the Coca-Cola logo.) It has existed largely unchanged since 1912.
Rand was a pretty fascinating guy, but you can be forgiven if his name doesn't ring a bell — in the non-design-geek public, his work has dwarfed his name. He was born in 1914 and began his career creating stock images for a newspaper syndicate. He was a painter, lecturer, and industrial designer, but he rose to fame doing graphic advertising and corporate work.
Assuming you don't live in a cave, Rand likely owns a great deal of real estate in your brain — he designed logos for everyone from Enron to Esquire, and his work for clients like IBM and UPS is universally recognizable. (A complete gallery of his logo work, along with a great deal of his advertising efforts — Kaiser-Frazer! — can be found here.) Steve Jobs once called him "the greatest living graphic designer," and as artist Louis Danzinger once said,
[Rand] almost singlehandedly convinced business that design was an effective tool. Anyone designing in the 1950s and 1960s owed much to Rand, who largely made it possible for us to work. He more than anyone...made the profession reputable. We went from being "commercial artists" to being graphic designers largely on his merits.
As for the blue oval? Rand's Ford logo was supposedly presented to Henry Ford in a handsome, limited-edition binding. It was both clean and tasteful, and while it probably leans a bit too much on sixties modernism to have survived the ensuing decades unchanged, it fit the request.
Why didn't Hank Two like it? Simple: After much deliberation, he found it to be too radical of a change. What was good enough for his grandfather, he felt, was good enough for him. The more things move boldly, the more they stay the same.
(Blue Oval Evolution Image Credit: Themeflash)