The International Business Machines Corporation, most frequently referred to as IBM, is one of the world’s leading IT companies. Founded by Charles Ranlett Flint over a century ago, the IBM logo and brand are known for their spotless services in the fields of IT consulting, computer service, software, and hardware. They currently offer these services successfully in more than 160 countries.
Whether we’re talking about IBM AIX, WebSphere, Cognos Analytics, IBM DB2, Tivoli, or Maximo, we know that the company is offering some of the best services in the field. Offering consulting, infrastructure, and hosting services for areas ranging from nanotechnology to mainframe computers, the IBM logo and brand are considered by some to be the future of technology.
And while IBM, as a company, is one of the most progressive and technologically advanced firms in the world, the IBM logo is also one of the most impressive examples of graphic design to ever hit the public eye. But that’s to be expected, seeing as the one who designed the IBM logo was Paul Rand – one of the most widely beloved and appreciated graphic designers of the last century.
IBM Logo Design Elements
As with most logos which have an actual design process and which are meant to serve a major company for a long while, the IBM logo has three main design elements which work very well with one another to transmit certain feelings and sentiments to the public. But of course, seeing as IBM, and the IBM logo and brand have such a long history, they have changed quite a bit over the years.
The three main design are the shape of the logo, the color in which it is depicted officially, and the font of the logo. While all three have their own meaning, when looked at together they combine to form the brand’s identity as seen by the millions of users it successfully serviced. But before we start analyzing each element of the logo, let’s first time about the IBM logos and how they changed over the years.
Changes and Evolution
Since the company went by other names until around 1924, that’s when the first official IBM logo came around. It consisted of the words International Business Machines stylized to look like a globe, with International hovering between Business and Machines, somewhat similar to the Daily Planet logo.
After that, the IBM logo went through a couple of stages, getting closer to the one we know and love today, until finally being redesigned by the internationally famous graphic designer, Paul Rand. Interestingly, the redesign was warranted by the inability of the photocopiers of that time to properly render large colored areas.
The IBM logo history is a perfect representation of the evolution of minimalism and simplicity done the right way. From the gravely unsuccessful globe IBM old logo, the subsequent IBM logos became simpler and simpler, eventually giving way to the masterpiece designed by its famous creator. Now, let’s start analyzing the elements of the IBM logo.
We aren’t going to focus on the other, older IBM logos, since they weren’t designed by someone with the legendary talent of Paul Rand. We aren’t going to talk about variants like the IBM Power, IBM Rational, or the IBM Watson logo, as they weren’t designed by Paul Rand either. So, let’s just focus on the main IBM logo and on the one Paul Rand used for inspiration.
From 1967 to 1972, the IBM logo was extremely similar to the one we know and love today. The biggest difference was that instead of being made out of eight stripes, it was made out of thirteen. This had begun to be a serious problem, as photocopiers back then couldn’t really reproduce it properly.
After Paul Rand had offered to help with the IBM logo repeatedly in the past, the company finally decided that they’ve received one too many faxes with dripping colors and hired him to give their logo a new, better look. Rand, however, liked the logo so much, that he decided to keep as much of it as possible.
He went from the 13 lines of the old IBM logo to the current 8, in a very successful effort to inspire speed and dynamism. Plus, seeing as the letter formatting was just becoming trendy for the time period, it was the perfect time to correct and give a few finishing touches to the logo that would become so famous.
Often associated with stability and depth, as well as with loyalty, trust, intelligence, confidence, and truth, blue is frequently used to produce a calming effect in people. Even more importantly, blue is often used in company logos, such as in the IBM logo, to convey a sense of dominance, strength, and professionalism.
Interestingly, the combination between the blue of the logo and the striped design work together to transmit feelings of speed and dynamism. It gives a distinctive quality to the IBM logo, one missing from most current-day logos, but present in many of the old-school companies.
Consisting of a very simple, yet unforgettable custom typeface, the IBM logo font is a very simple, stylish, bolded, and serif font meant to depict the customer-oriented and innovative nature of the company and their products.
The fact that the IBM logo font has changed so little after the company parted with the globe IBM logo goes to show exactly how close the company was to developing the perfect emblem. The only thing that got in their way was a little extra bit of ambition, which drove them to make the logo just a tiny bit more complex than they should have.
Inspiration and Trivia
One of the most interesting things about the company actually doesn’t even involve the main IBM logo. Ever since the company launched their certification program, more and more people have been looking for SVG, EPS, PNG, and other high-quality image vector files in order to fake the papers and appear to be certified. Despite some preventive measures from the company, smarter, more skilled forgers can still occasionally pull it off.
An Indian subsidiary of IBM, with facilities in several important cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, is said to hire close to a third of IBM’s total number of employees. By all accounts, the numbers are right, with the IBM India Private Limited subsidiary hiring more employees than any other country; however, the company is very secretive about its affairs and refuses to disclose any numbers.
IBM’s slogan, coined by Thomas J. Watson in December of 1911, is simply THINK. It is also what named the new, highly successful ThinkPad. The series of laptops and tablets started being produced by Lenovo, only to continue as IBM merchandise. The ThinkPad series is supposed to offer smarter, premier devices, and can be found in any representative or IBM partner store.
Belonging to one of the most internationally famous IT brands in the world, the IBM logo and brand are some of the most beloved properties on the face of the planet. Most people look at the brand with hopes for the future glimmering in their eyes, as the company is among the world leaders in computer research, development, and funding. Plus, IBM logo merchandise is among the best-selling tech in the world.