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.”
No mention of the company would be complete without referencing one of my favourite TV scenes, Don Draper’s Kodak presentation.