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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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This is an IBM poster which represents an Eye, Bee, and M that was made in 1981 and came out in 2002. It was designed by Paul Rand (graphic Artist). It is an offset printing that involves Drawings, Graphic Design and prints. Rand modified the logo in 1960s but the striped logo was created in 1972 which made the IBM mark slightly less heavy and more dynamic. The eight stripes showed as a company default logo while the thirteen stripe version was used for situations where a more refined look was required for example, IBM stationary and business cards. Rand also designed packaging, marketing materials and assorted communication for IBM.

Paul Rand believed that good design was a way of life and the IBM logo is one of his most famous and well known designs today. This is based on serif 3 letter typefaces. During the beginning design stages, it was a type-only piece (see Fig. 2), but after further development Rand introduced 3 lines (see Fig. 3). The final draft brought 8 lines into the logo (see Fig. 4) of the same type which is still the current design in place today. These strips captured the dynamism of the company and it made the logo look simple.  The company name is outlined fashionably with capital letters in the bold font to indicate authority and formed with horizontal bars which enhance the beauty of the IBM logo.

The meaning of the colours in the IBM logo was different across to different people's opinions and cultures but most of the reflections are similar to the value of the colours. For instance, red and orange represent warmth to the design, green comes with coolness, black emphasises the strength and power and blue is the colour of boundless which has extended the support to broaden the organisation's activities and perhaps the initial theme behind the IBM success.

Figure number 2. International Business Machines (IBM), 8-bar variation 1972

Figure number 3. International Business Machines (IBM), 13-bar variation 1967

Figure number 4. International Business Machines (IBM), 1956

International Business Machine (IBM) is a technological company based in Armonk, New York, United States. It is the main research company in the USA with a record of being the most patents generated by a business for 23 years. It manufactures and markets all computer wares. It is well-known for its logo design which started way back in 1950s. Thomas J. Watson Jr, IBM's executive officer, decided to put his stump on IBM through modern design and later he declared that ‘‘good design is good business.” (Watson, 1973)

In 1956, Watson hired Eliot Noyes architect and former custodian of New York's Museum of Modern Art who had a strong desire to create a design program that would involve all of IBM'S products, buildings and marketing materials. “A corporation should be like a good painting; everything visible should contribute to the correct total statement; nothing visible should detract,” Noyes wrote. He recruited many artists, designers and architects of significant talent, including Paul Rand, Ray Eames and more who created a wider range of expressions.  

Noyes described his own role as a “curator of corporate character.” He explained: “It does seem to be a part of the role of the designer to help identify this character, and then express it in terms of the most meaningful goals and the highest ideas of the company and in the broadest context of our society and economy.” (Noyes, whatever date he said it)

In 1972, Rand's development design to IBM logo with stripes that represented the speed and dynamism made the organisation to be recognised worldwide until today. Charles and Ray Eames are known to have designed everything “They taught that if you don't understand something, you can't design it,” says Lee Green, the vice president in charge of IBM's Brand Experience and Strategic Design. “Design has to be purposeful. It's not about cosmetics and decoration. It's about substance.” Or, as Charles Eames put it, “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” By that definition, IBM's researchers could be seen as designers, and its designers have been researchers and teachers.

The IBM's ideology of design has caused a great impact to many business organisations since Noyes outline. Design is currently seen as crucial for all companies to convey their brands and values. Some of the examples are; Apple, Disney and Starbucks. Today all organisations have become very keen about design, involving people's reactions about new products and services to create good business strategies.

To conclude my essay, Paul Rand's IBM logo recognise as his best peace of work and well-known logo because he did not only change the logo of the company, but its feature too. Was professor at Yale University press and, he is the one who designed the Yale university press logo in (1985), ABC, United parcel services and Westinghouse in (1960s). To me, the IBM logo is my great inspiration because of its unique design of images and durability to compete even update.

“We live in the shadow of what Eliot Noyes and the Eames, Rand and Saarinen have done,” says Keith Yamashita, the IBM Charles and Ray Eames Brand Fellow. “It's the same mission. It's just different people.”


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