Exxon by Loewy

Use of the Esso trademark was restricted in the United States, so Standard Oil of New Jersey (Jersey Standard) hired renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy (1893-1986) to create a new name and logo for the brand.

Exxon logo by Loewy
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

According to designboom, Loewy “proposed ‘exxon’ and came up with seventy-six rough pencil sketches based on the word, placing the visual emphasis on the double ‘x.’ The two x’s subliminally recalled the ‘s’s’ in Esso and thus helped ease the transition from the old name to the new.”

The Library of Congress shared this look inside Loewy’s sketchbook.

Exxon logo sketches by Raymond Loewy

“The sheet shows the trials and rejections as Loewy created a new logo for Standard Oil Company. From the eighteen design ideas on the page, Loewy highlighted his final choice with an ‘okay.'”

The date says 1966, but the name wasn’t officially changed to Exxon until 1972.

Catch the full logo history on the ExxonMobile website.

Loewy also designed the 1971 Shell logo, still in use today.

In recent news, ExxonMobil is suing FX Networks over a new interlocking XX logo.

10 responses

  1. Wow its pretty great to see how exxon logo came about. I had no idea there was a company that was before exxon. I thought exxon came about when the government broke up standard oil’s monoply.

  2. I can’t remember where, but somewhere I read a story that a woman at a party asked the Exxon designer (Loewy, presumably) why he put two XXs in the name.

    ‘Why do you ask?’ said Loewy.

    ‘I just happened to notice it,’ replied the woman.

    ‘That’s why I did it,’ said Loewy.

    Have you heard that story? Any idea if it’s true? Either way, it’s a neat little branding anecdote.

  3. I still believe that the owners chose Loewy as the designer because of their common bond as Masons and that the linked x’s represent the Cross of Lorraine. Looking at some of his rejected design’s only fortifies this belief as two of them show the x’s as the square and compass.

  4. The anecdote that Mike is referring to appears in the book BRAND IDENTITY NOW published in 2009 by Taschen in a section written by John Rushworth.

  5. As far as I am aware Exxon has never existed in the UK, I have only ever seen Esso. So I always figured it was just different brand names for different countries or that Exxon purchased Esso. Wasn’t sure how Mobil linked into the whole thing either. Wonder why the trademark was restricted?

  6. According to Scott Wolter, Loewy was a francmason who designed the famous oil company’s logo with two exxes combined in a way to simulate the Lorraine Cross, a symbol of the Templar Knights. I think this might be a simple speculation coming from the brain of the man who claims there were francmason Jewish templars in Tucson AZ who used lead swords with fake latin inscriptions.

  7. With the bust up of the monopoly of Standard Oil early in the 20th Century, their products and branding went under several names/companies.

    Esso (a beautiful oval logo) was in use basically in the East and Northeast. Enco (the Esso logo spelled E, N, C, O) was used in the Deep South and on the West coast. There were other incarnation names in other parts of the country such as Humble, Carter, and even Oklahoma. Most were oval with a very deep blue border on a white field with red lettering.

    I can’t recall the reasoning (had all the anti-trust bugs been worked out?) in the 1960’s when this top secret re-branding under one name came about. Personally, I liked the new Esso logo which was introduced in the 1960’s, but nobody asked me! LOL! For some reason they had to come up with a brand new name and trademark.

    And Exxon went to the very top with Raymond Loewy, a phenomenal designer who put his stamp on so many products. It’s not surprising that it took from 1966 until the Exxon name and logo were put into use in 1972. A major logo and name change such as “Exxon” is not implemented overnight.

    Exxon merged with Mobil (I think they bought them sometime about 20-25 years ago) and the “Exxon” name in the newly formed “ExxonMobil” company borrowed more from the “Mobil” typeface with lower case letters than the all caps in Loewy’s Exxon. But the distinctive double X’s were kept.

  8. But, what about the old red, white, blue, oval with HUMBLE inside it. When was it “first” used by Humble? And, when was that discontinued?

    And at what time was the old solid white “HUMBLE” logo being used on the side of oil tank cars, that were painted black or dark grey?

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