Exxon logo by LoewyPhoto by 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.

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November 18, 2013

Comments

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

Here’s why use of the “Esso” name was problem. Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Chevron, and an assortment of other companies were all split from what had been Standard Oil (which the federal government broke up in 1911). Each company had the right to use the “Standard” brand name, but only in its home territory.

Standard Oil of New Jersey came up with the brand name “Esso” as play on the initials S.O. —as in Standard Oil. The company wanted to expand “Esso” nationally, but other “baby Standards”—particularly Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco)—successfully argued that the name was a thinly veiled infringement on their rights to the name Standard Oil and the initials S.O. As a result, Standard Oil of New Jersey used a patchwork of other names (Humble, Carter, Enco) elsewhere in the country. To combine all marketing efforts under a single, national identity, the company had only one choice: Drop the well-known Esso name and create something that could be used without restriction.

The other Standards had “home” and “away” names, too. Standard Oil of California was known as Chevron outside of its home territory. Out of the upper Midwest, Standard of Indiana was Amoco. Eventually, they all decided that their 50-state-legal “away” names were more valuable than “Standard”.

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