Back 1966 Paul Rand was commissioned by Henry Ford II to rethink his grandfather’s company identity. The goal was pretty straightforward, to modernize the scripted oval Ford logo, and as you can see above, that has been successfully accomplished.
But after analyzing Rand’s work, Henry Ford II had second thoughts, and decided not to change the logo after all. The following excerpt from the New York Times gives an insight on Ford’s decision to repudiate the change:
According to Allen Hurlburt, a graphic designer writing in Communication Arts, “After extensive research and considerable design exploration, a new style was worked out, and a handsome printed and bound presentation was prepared in a limited edition for the eventual review by Henry Ford II. After some deliberation, Mr. Ford finally decided that, when it came to the family name, what was good enough for his grandfather was good enough for him.”
This is a truly intriguing story and a very relevant fact in the history of logo design, but there’s an underlying message that is even more interesting. Paul Rand, one of the most renowned designers in a generation, had his work rejected by a client. What!? Yes, and if you dare, for a moment, try to imagine Paul Rand’s reaction to the news. The way I imagine it, the least, he got really disappointed with Henry Ford’s decision.
We tend to glamorize the best in our industry, such as Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, Walter Landor and many more in such a exaggerated way, that sometimes it may seems these people belong to some sort of special class of people. Geniuses, that never get anything wrong, never had their work rejected or unappreciated.
The truth however, is much more pedestrian.
These people are not amazing because of some sort of unique special talent they were born with, that’s poppycock! These people are amazing because they were passionate about their work, because they dedicated long hours in their trade, and because they learned how to deal with rejection and lack of appreciation in a positive way.
The human nature is a funny thing, we tend to exaggerate our own efforts in great length and usually overestimate how people will react to our work. The real bad consequence of this habit, is that every now and then, a rejection can really put you down. For some people, a rejection can even put them off pursuing a career in the creative industry.
So if you ever end up with a forgotten logo yourself, remember Paul Rand, a true master logo designer, the creative mind behind the logos of IBM, UPS, Bell, Next and many more that are recognized by people all over the world. Even him, was rejected before.