Corporate Identity Design

“Everything is design. Everything!”

Paul Rand (1914 – 1996), was an influential American graphic designer but was best known for his corporate logo designs. In his career, Rand has contributed greatly to the graphic design industry by way of his corporate identities which include IBM, UPS, Enron, Westinghouse, ABC and NeXT, many of which are still being used today. Rand was educated at the Pratt Institute (1929-1932), the Parsons School of Design (1932-1933), and the Art Students League (1933-1934) and went on to become one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design. Paul Rand was a pioneer of American graphic design, he was influenced in his early work by Cubism and Constructivism as well as the Bauhaus, applying the principles learned from these avant-garde schools of art to graphic design. Rand’s defining corporate identity was his IBM logo in 1956, which as Mark Favermann states “was not just an identity but a basic design philosophy that permeated corporate consciousness and public awareness.” Many people may interpret his logo’s as simplistic but Rand quickly pointed out in A Designer’s Art that “ideas do not need to be esoteric to be original or exciting.”

Rand, more than others in the advertising business, believed that a brand identity was more important than a billboard and in 1996 graphic designer Louis Danziger said “He 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 else made the profession reputable. We went from being commercial artists to being graphic designers largely on his merits.”

Rand was not only known for his design, but also for his philosophy of design, writing a number of books about his work.