The Top 5 Paul Rand Identities

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Master graphic designer Paul Rand left a mark on the world in the twentieth century like few other designers. Today we rank his top five corporate identities based on design, originality and composition. Of course, this is basically just my educated opinion, so feel free to lambast me if you disagree.

#5 Esquire Magazine (1938):


Long before Esquire was publishing the likes of Norman Mailer and Gay Talese, it was famous due to the popularity of the Petty and Vargas Girls. These pinups had a large influence on Rand when designing the logo in 1938. Rand was only 24 at the time but, already showed a refined sophistication in his thinking and execution. The logo produced is that of an ogling man. You can almost hear a brass band playing in the background and see a line of chorus girls while looking at Rand’s creation.




#4 International Business Machines (IBM), 8-bar variation (1972):


Rand had previously designed other versions of this logo for IBM in 1956 and 1967 but, this variation is still used by IBM today. This is Rand’s defining corporate identity. The stripes were introduced as a half-toning technique to make the IBM mark slightly less heavy and more dynamic. Two variations of the “striped” logo were designed; one with eight stripes, one with thirteen stripes. The bolder mark with eight stripes was intended as the company’s default logo, while the more delicate thirteen stripe version was used for situations where a more refined look was required, such as IBM executive stationery and business cards.




#3 Westinghouse Electric (1960)


Westinghouse Electric was, in 1960, one of the most powerful corporations in the United States. The basis of their success was originally the sale of energy. Rand’s logo is a simple W in a circle with the circles on the ascenders of the W signifying energy currents. It’s absolutely brilliant in it’s simplicity and execution.




#2 American Broadcasting Company (1962)


Most people know that ABC does stand for The American Broadcasting Company (far less know that CBS actually stands for Columbia Broadcasting System) but, in 1962, ABC was known by it’s long-handed name. Rand changed all that. He simplified the logo and made it bolder. The American Broadcasting Company soon became known simply as “ABC.”




#1 United Parcel Service (1962)



UPS did away with this version of the logo in 2003 for a more simplified version but, in my opinion they should go back to it. UPS is framed in a badge, inspiring trust. The lowercase “ups” implies to the customers a sense of equality between the customer and the company. The top of the logo is a neatly placed parcel box. It’s brilliant.

So there you have it. The Wall Breakers’ choices for Paul Rand’s top five identity designs. There’s really no wrong choice here as they’re all brilliant.



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