Logo Design Love

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Kodak logo evolution

Sad news today that 131-year-old Kodak has filed for bankruptcy.

As good a time as any to take a quick look at the Kodak logo evolution.

Kodak logo evolution
Image (above) and text (below) via Kodak website

Early 1900’s
Kodak is the first company to integrate its name and look into a symbol.

1930’s
Focus moved to the Kodak name and the red and yellow “trade dress” color.

1960’s
The corner curl was introduced.

1970’s
The mark retained the red and yellow colors and the Kodak name, but a box and graphic “K” element were added.

1980’s
A more contemporary type font streamlined the Kodak name within the existing logo.

Today
The box is gone, simplifying the logo. The rounded type font and distinctive “a” give the name a more contemporary look.

Kodak logo
Kodak logo designed by Brand Integration Group, 2006

“The type-only successor to the brand’s 1971 vintage yellow-and-red K/arrow symbol is intended to offer a ‘more international and universal impact’, and to distance the company from its film and processing past.”

Quoted from Michael Evamy’s Logo.

Kodak was born in April 1880, when George Eastman leased the third floor of a building on State Street in Rochester. He began to manufacture dry plates for sale, and one of his first purchases was a second-hand engine priced at $125.

“I really needed only a one horse-power. This was a two horse-power, but I thought perhaps business would grow up to it. It was worth a chance, so I took it.”
— GEORGE EASTMAN

15 years ago Kodak’s market value was $31 billion (via Reuters).

The word “Kodak” was first registered as a trademark in 1888.

“I devised the name myself. The letter ‘K’ had been a favorite with me — it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter. It became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with ‘K.’ The word ‘Kodak’ is the result.”
— GEORGE EASTMAN

More Kodak history here.

Kodak logo
Kodak signage via Techweek

Related:
Kodak: a fond farewell, on The Guardian
Don Draper pitching “The Carousel” to Kodak, on YouTube

Kodak signage
Kodak signage via Below Stairs

A few previous logo evolution features:
BMW
NASA
Paramount
Penguin
Waterstones

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

8 appreciated comments

  1. It may be the last revision we get to see. I hear the brand is rapidly losing pace with its main rivals in recent months. A massive loss and shame for such an iconic name in the photography world.

  2. Kodak just didn’t move with the times.

    They just didn’t mean anything any more. The Mad Men clip was brilliant and sums it up perfectly. They went from being the treasurer of your memories to being the name printed on the back of the photo’s gathering dust in a drawer.

    I’d have loved to see them put the craft back into digital. Perhaps with plug ins to replicate different films from the past or a new way of storing, filing, cataloging and showing photos in one complete system.

    They should have played to their pedigree rather than their history.

    It could have been:
    Kodak. Your memories since 1880 or
    Kodak. We make memories.

    Now it’s:
    Kodak. We are a memory.

  3. Joe

    Its really a shame to see a business like this with such a rich history file for bankruptcy. However it’s interesting to see how much the logo has evolved since its original version.

  4. Mark Roberts

    I think the ‘K’ graphic shape version was way stronger then the latest much more anonymous version, maybe that’s where it all started to go wrong!

  5. Sadly I would have to agree with Lee. I don’t believe Kodak did move with the times and that can have a massive impact. No matter how big the company is.

    Thanks for sharing the logos evolution David. There’s always something you can take away from it.

  6. Would be interesting to see the monogram developed instead of the logotype; I see a ‘K’ a ‘C’ and an ‘E’ there.

    I actually overheard two photographers saying that Kodak film produced orange skin tones, hence the orange packaging, and Fujifilm produced greenish colour tones.

  7. Kodak has always been an essential part of photographic world, it is such a great loss to the community. I think it’s one of the most powerful and easily recognisable logos across the whole world, great job both for the designers and the marketing departments.

    It’s always interesting to see the history of a brand and its evolution, the 1960’s logo looks quite peculiar to have lasted that long. I see the power of the brand demonstrated in the last design, when they managed to be strong even after abandoning their specific yellow-red combination.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. The monogram was much stronger, it is definitely the sign I remember. I Wonder what would have happened if they had re-animated the Kodak Instamatic Camera in a contemporary retro style?


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