Saul Bass (1920-1996) described a particularly sticky moment when he presented his Minolta design at the company’s Osaka headquarters in 1980.
“Although his son, the President of the company, had initiated the corporate identity program, the Chairman and retired founder, Kazuo Tashima, remained skeptical of such fancy new ways.
“During the initial consultation process, he listened to my proposals in stony silence. At one point when I was speaking, Mr. Tashima plucked a miniaturized Minolta camera from its display stand, and said ‘Gentlemen, we have a very small product. There is hardly enough room on it for a name, let alone a symbol!’
“I paused a moment. ‘Mr. Tashima,’ I said, ‘your company has a perfectly symmetrical name — three letters on each side of a circle — and the circle is the perfect place for a symbol.’ I then reached over and took Herb Yager’s pipe out of his hand; it was a Dunhill pipe. I pointed to the traditional white Dunhill dot and said, ‘This is what you need — a magic dot.’ That did it. From then on the old lion was intrigued.”
The trademark dot on Dunhill pipes, photo credit PipesMagazine
The Minolta corporate identity applied
Saul shared a little advice for design students in this video (embedded below).
From the LDL archives: Saul Bass logos: then and now.
Minolta logo (top) credit: I is someone else