Bolin Logo Redo: 1950s

By Justin Zwieg  /  Chief Creative Officer

“Good design is good business.”

Shortly after replacing his father as CEO of IBM, Thomas J. Watson Jr. had an epiphany. The story goes that he was walking in New York city one morning, and was stopped in his tracks by a particularly compelling window display of typewriters. It moved him to declare, “good design is good business.” It became the company’s mantra, and his legacy. Watson Jr. went on to assemble a dream team of seminal mid-century designers who transformed IBM into the modern, colorful, trend-setter it still is today. The rest of the world followed his lead. As shopping aisles swelled with choices over the decade, brand identity—including logos, color systems, tone of voice, and distinct use of photography—became an increasingly large part of every business strategy. Giving products a strong personality quickly became the way to stand out, and stick around.

Along with the economy, the world of 1950s design boomed with activity and color. The aesthetics of the 50s reflect the strength and freedom that post-war Americans felt. Bold, geometric conformity was constrasted with cheerful, organic shapes and type. Twinkling chrome details, ice-creamy colors, and rich, atmospheric portraits of happy families dominated magazine spreads. In architecture and furniture design, new manufacturing techniques allowed a forward-thinking “less is more” mentality to thrive. It was the beginning of a new era. Of a new America. The energy and optimism that this decade enjoyed is palpable.

Bolin in the 1950s

Bolin was established in 1950, making 2020 our 70th year in business! To celebrate, we’re reimagining our logo in each decade of Bolin’s history. The challenge I presented our team was to create a logo that reflected both the vibrant individualism of 50s, as well as that structured “less is more” attitude that emerged from it. It was important to capture a sense of that “new beginning” energy as well. It was our birth decade, after all.

The team really captured the aesthetic of the time. This logo could have easily
been emblazoned on anything coming out of Detroit in the 50s.

As designers, we owe so much to the 1950s. It was a decade of growth, color, and thoughtful exploration of what was possible in the worlds of graphic design, homegoods, architecture and film. It was minimal, yet maximal. Structured, yet playful. Mass-produced, yet personal. It was the decade that Americans became consumers, companies became brands, and good design became good business. I like to think it still is.

Stay tuned here and on Instagram @bolinagency for decades and logos to come!