Trademarks USA, 1963

Trademarks USA, 1963

Trademarks USA was an initiative to bring trademark design to the forefront of corporate consideration by presenting, through an awards programme and exhibition, the very best trademarks and logotypes created between 1945 and 1963. 

193 trademarks and logotypes were selected with fourteen of these being singled out for particular distinction, and were presented alongside materials and photographs of their related design policy. Undertaken by the Society of Typographic Arts, chaired by Larry Klein, the initiative was the first national exhibition of its kind, and opened on the 22nd April 1964 at the National Design Center in Marina City, Chicago.

Four years later, the exhibition was documented in the form of a "portfolio". This publication, presented here, is a unique document of its time and distinguished, not only as a product of an early awards program and exhibition dedicated to logos and corporate image, but also in its format as a slipcase, book, booklet and cards. 

The publication begins with a 4pp folded card introducing the awards, the exhibition and the members of the jury which included luminaries such as Lester Beall Allen Fleming and Morton Goldsholl. This card also lists the fourteen exemplary corporate identity programmes that follow. The spread includes a President's message from Charles G. MacMurray and photographs  of the judges and judging process.

This is followed by another 4pp folded card with a short text by Lester Beall titled “The Trademark: A Graphic Summation of Individuality."

"Any graphic device, no matter how well designed, cannot alone project an overall positive image unless it is an integral part of a usage system. This system, or the organisation and coordination of all usage areas, functions as an integration synthesizer and is therefore an acutely essential factor in the development and growth of a corporate identity. However, in the development of a corporate design program a paradoxical phenomena is often exposed."

"For though the corporate objective is basically to create or develop individual corporate identity, the corporation sometimes ignores the fact that an affective realisation of this objective depends on individual initiative and responsibility and not on group anonymity epitomised by either the committee or the computer."

– Lester Beall.

The spread of this second card, alongside the tail end of the text by Lester Beall includes images of the exhibition and the awards trophies, and offers a small window onto one of the first very first logo exhibitions and awards programmes which became commonplace. It must be mentioned that ITC and Paul Ibou did much to facilitate this later on in the 70s and and 80s.

Following the first two cards are the fourteen entries singled out for their distinction. These take the format of 4pp folded sheets. The covers include the trademark and a bit of background (this varies between information of the corporation, design policy, challenges and the ideas behind the logos). On opening, the eye is immediately draw to the large reproduction of the trademark, and then, on the left, examples of its applications. The fourteen design policies include, Abott Laboratories, 1959, The Ansul Company, 1954, International Paper Company, 1960, CBS, 1951, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, 1956, Container Corporation of America, 1958 IBM, 1956, International Minerals & Chemical Corporation, 1958, Lawry's Foods Inc. 1958, Martin-Senour Company, 1951,Herman Miller & Company, 1947, Playboy, 1954, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, 1961 & Weyerhaeuser Company, 1958. The information in each varies in content and in length, but there are some lovely details in these.

The publication moves into single 215 x 215mm cards, printed one side with a 2x2 grid of the remaining trademarks and logotypes. This makes up the majority of the slipcase's volume and are a delight to go through. By placing just four logos per sheet, and printing these at what might be described as a medium size (relative to other logo books of the period), there's a chance to discover smaller details and the irregularities or precision of their drawing.

These cards function to document the changes that many corporations were undergoing at the time. This was largely the modernisation of infrastructure, internal corporate culture, distribution and production as well as service and product diversification. These are reflected in the design of the symbols.

Concluding Trademarks USA is a perfect bound booklet of 56 pages. It's cover is blank except for a small notation top righthand corner that reads "Trademarks entered but not chosen for the "Trademarks USA" 1964 exhibition sponsored by the Society of Typograpics Arts, Chicago, Illinois."

The trademark and logotype layout for the booklet is a four column grid, with columns on the outsides containing information. The trademarks are positioned in a way that appears favourable to the practical, efficient and quick arrangement of lots of symbols, but also serves to differentiate the booklet from that which proceeded it, those trademarks that made it into the exhibition. There are many well-regarded works included here, and it gives a more complete picture of the Trademarks USA initiative.