Hank The Deuce Almost Changed The Blue Oval To What?

Illustration for article titled Hank The Deuce Almost Changed The Blue Oval To emWhat?/em

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?

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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.

Illustration for article titled Hank The Deuce Almost Changed The Blue Oval To emWhat?/em
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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.

Illustration for article titled Hank The Deuce Almost Changed The Blue Oval To emWhat?/em

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.

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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.

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(Blue Oval Evolution Image Credit: Themeflash)

[Paul-Rand.com and NYT]

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DISCUSSION

It's a bit outdated, without question, but it's more appealing and modern than the logo currently being used.

My biggest problem is that the oval looks lazy. I think they should go with a circular shape with Ford set in a modern, san serif font. At least their logo is tolerable.

Ford's logo has the best logo of the three American automakers. Chevrolet's is awful and means nothing. And more importantly, it's got far too strong an association with cheap, unreliable cars.

The worst one of all was Chrysler's ridiculous wax seal logo. What does it have to do with cars, first of all. And secondly what does something from the era of the horse and buggy have anything to do with modern cars? However, it's a bit of a moot point considering their logo has been redesigned. The new winged thing, while an improvement, isn't very good. It looks like an indecipherable blob at a distance and the tiny "chrysler" contained within is virtually invisible.

To be fair, Cadillac and Buick have good identities. Although, I don't like the current, all-chrome version Buick is using; the shields need some color. Excluding these and maybe Ford's to a lesser extent, foreign automakers all have nicer and far stronger logos.