How design has helped the rebirth of a 100-year-old American brand
Posted: May 10, 2023 | Word Count: 592
When you think of the most important, influential companies in America, the first image that may pop into your head is their logo. This is common for long-lived brands spanning decades — or over a century — and even more so for well-designed, memorable logos that represent the company in a visually meaningful way. For example, when you hear the name "Westinghouse," you probably imagine the distinctive brand logo designed by renowned graphic designer and art director Paul Rand (1914-1996) back in 1959. Throughout his illustrious career, Rand created numerous well-known logos for companies like IBM, UPS, ABC and NeXT.
Rand's familiar logo is now undergoing a facelift thanks to acclaimed contemporary designer Paula Scher, who has reimagined the famous logo with a colorful approach that's appealing to today's consumers, while still paying homage to its original creator.
Brief history of an iconic American brand
George Westinghouse founded his company in 1886, and through a partnership with Nikola Tesla and the development of the AC power system, Westinghouse defeated Thomas Edison's DC power in the "war of the currents." For the next century Westinghouse achieved fascinating firsts in electrical innovation, including the first long-distance transmission of high-voltage AC power, the first commercial radio broadcast and the camera that captured the first steps on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Today, the Westinghouse logo can be found on products ranging from nuclear power plants and large industrial motors to televisions, light bulbs, generators and more.
The famous brand logo designed by Paul Rand is made from the letter "w" with three circles atop each peak and a bold line underneath. Not only is the design eye-catching and memorable, but it suggests the idea of electronic circuits connecting, representing the company's foundation and continuing product line.
"The enduring legacy of this logo design is undeniable," said Director of Brand Experience at Westinghouse Electric Corporation Kevin Drain. "And the longevity of this clear, clean, evocative image speaks to the power and passion behind Rand's vision."
Redesigning an iconic brand for the next generation
As the company planned to revitalize the brand, they sought one of the best designers in the country to help reimagine the logo for a modern audience.
Paula Scher was their top choice, as a highly influential graphic designer well known for her creative work for companies including Citibank, Tiffany's, Microsoft, Adobe, Coca-Cola and the Walt Disney Company, just to name a few — plus venerable institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Sundance Institute, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. In 2001, Scher was awarded the profession's highest honor by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the AIGA Medal, to recognize her distinguished achievements in the field, and is one of the world's most highly regarded designers today.
Using Paul Rand's original Westinghouse brand manual as inspiration, Paula Scher created a visually compelling redesign for the new look of Westinghouse. The design incorporated bright colors, larger typeface and the circle element to appeal to a younger audience while still honoring the company's legacy of technological innovation. This new design system is a powerful tool in perpetuating the generational legacy of the brand.
"The evolution of this logo is proof that great design will always be great," added Drain. "If you have a classic design like Rand's logo, why not keep it — especially when it's been created to stand the test of time. Scher has taken the original design and modernized it brilliantly, bringing it into the 21st century."
Check out the new look for the logo design by visiting Westinghouse.com.