3M was first founded as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company in 1902. As they moved away from mining and began to focus on producing electronics, industrial products, and equipment, the company changed its brand name to 3M. In modern times, they are mostly known for making Post-it notes and Scotch tape. The 3M logo might seem simple, but it has actually gone through a surprising amount of changes. You can learn more about all the old logos for 3M in this article.
3M Logo Design Elements
3M’s current logo has been in use since 1978. It is a typographic logo that only uses the company’s name as their design. 3M chose a warm, bright red for their logo. The logo background is typically white, but it may appear in other colors occasionally. On the logo, the 3 is so close to the M that the number and letter are touching. They are both the same height, giving the logo a slightly rectangular appearance. 3M uses a standard Helvetica font for their logo. It is characterized by straight, even lines, without any serifs.
Changes and Evolution
Back when it was still Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, 3M had a logo that featured a diamond saying “3M Co.” inside a circle containing their full name. They then removed the outer circle and just used a diamond containing the phrase “3M Co.” This was simplified even further to a logo that simply said “3-M.”
The company then returned to an even more elaborate logo that featured their original design, but contained the company’s starting date and location too. 3M realized that simplicity worked better for their brand, so they tried many variations of a plain logo that just said “3M’ between the 1930s and 1950s.
After this period of logos, 3M went back to elaborate circles. They had many variations of a logo shape that consisted of an oval design or an oval leaf border around the phrase “3M Company.” The company was beginning to struggle with brand recognition to all of these changes, so they eventually settled on a design that had 3 in a large size next to a smaller M with the phrase “brand” or “company” directly underneath the M. This was used for decades until the current logo appeared.
Most of 3M’s logos have used a simple black on white design that allows for plenty of versatility. The current logo is the first one to consistently be portrayed in a bright color.
Along with the many changes to the logo shape, 3M has also experimented with many font types. They started out with classic Roman fonts before switching to trendy sans-serif designs in the 1930s through 1950s. The company then went back to more classical-looking Roman and script fonts before finally settling on Helvetica.
3M’s logo was mostly inspired by a desire for something plain, recognizable, and stable, after years of switching between logo shapes. The design firm that they ended up using for the logo creation, Siegel and Gale, was known for its “simple is smart” motto, and this method is apparent in the 3M logo design.
It uses one of the most classic sans-serif fonts, and it clearly states the company’s name. To avoid making the logo too plain, the 3 and M are pressed unusually close together. The bright red color adds further excitement to an otherwise simplistic logo.
- The logo frequently appears as a larger design that says “Science Applied to Life” next to it. This is the 3M motto.
- 3M was originally known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. The company’s original mining ventures failed, so they changed their name to 3M, and started making sandpaper.
- The logo went through many changes, but 3M’s modern logo actually bears many similarities to an unused logo from 1948.
After experimenting with several different logo styles, the company has finally settled on one that meets their needs. 3M has successfully transformed from a mine into a global conglomerate that makes everything from office supplies to dental equipment. The simplicity of the 3M logo helps create a united identity for all of these different products, and its bold color and shape draw attention to the company name.
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