The business 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.
George Eastman said, “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.”
The word “Kodak” was first registered as a trademark in 1888. According to Eastman, “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.”
More Kodak history.
On the most recent Kodak logo (above), by Work-Order in New York, Kodak’s chief marketing officer Steven Overman said, “I don’t think of what we’re doing as ‘bringing back’ the iconic identity of Kodak, because in people’s hearts and minds, I don’t think it really went away. It’s simply logical to keep one of the world’s most famous brand marks at the forefront of the company’s image and identity.”
The Kodak logo evolution shows how in the early 1900s an EKC monogram was in place (Eastman Kodak Company). In the 1930s the focus moved to the Kodak name with the red and yellow palette. In the ’60s the relatively short-lived corner curl was designed, then in ’71 the ubiquitous “K” symbol was introduced. The ’80s saw a removal of the serifs on the Kodak name for a more contemporary type design within the existing logo. In 2006 the boxed symbol was dropped altogether to produce a simplified wordmark.
Kodak wordmark designed by Ogilvy’s Brand Integration Group, 2006.
In an excerpt from Michael Evamy’s Logo, the type-only successor to the brand’s 1971 vintage yellow-and-red K/arrow symbol was “intended to offer a more international and universal impact, and to distance the company from its film and processing past.”
After Kodak’s bankruptcy in 2012, and reemergence in 2013, Work-Order were brought on board in 2016 to revisit the identity. The result was a refinement of the classic 1971 version of the logo.
No mention of the company would be complete without referencing one of my favourite TV scenes, Don Draper’s Kodak presentation.
More from the logo evolution series: BMW, NASA, Penguin, Waterstones
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.
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.
Kodak. We are a memory.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?