Mobil logo old design
Mobil’s previous trademark design.

The two firms undertook a comprehensive design program, initially focusing on developing a radically cleaner, more modern and attractive service station and related signs and packaging that would help Mobil become the service station of choice.

Mobil logo sketch Tom Geismar 1964
Mobil logo sketch, Tom Geismar, 1964.

The idea of the red ‘o’ came about partly to reinforce a design concept to use circular canopies, pumps, and display elements for a distinctive and attractive look. It also served to help people pronounce the name correctly (Mo-bil, not Mo-bile), and of course to add a single memorable and distinctive element to an otherwise very simple lettering style.

Mobil logo Tom Geismar 1964
Mobil logo, designed by Tom Geismar, 1964.

Images and quote from Chermayeff & Geismar‘s superb book, Identify, published by Print Publishing.

Related, in the archives, is this interview with Tom Geismar.

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October 11, 2011

Comments

I was always a fan of the Mobil logo, however I always felt that something was missing from the end. I don’t know if it’s because I am used to there being an “e” at the end of the word or if I just think the Mobil Pegasus would have fit well.

I was born in 1971, so when I grew up the “new” design shown was the only Mobile identity I ever knew. It wasn’t until they reincorporated the Pegasus that I realized the style and panache the 1964 wordmark destroyed. It was part of the san-serif-make-everything-look-modern that Chrysler likewise did (pentagon star replacing older seal mark). As a combination of nostalgia, love of the shape, and removal of austerity, I was happy when the pegasus came back. On looking at the mobil.com site now, looks like it’s gone again in the Exxon Mobil merger.

Oh, and I also grew up during the NASA worm era, and was way happy that the meatball was restored.

Call me curmudgeon and non-visionary, but i’ll stick by it.

Fun and educational.

Brandon Aragon say’s “def not helv” and I’m all “how does one parse the nuances with such confidence?” so I throw ’em into a font sampler . . . and the difference is pronounced.

Avant Garde is geometrical, apparently perfect circles while Helv uses complex curves (there is no doubt a lovely esoteric term for that.)

Futura isn’t that similar, really, with generally narrower strokes, Cap M outside strokes are angled, not vertical.

The latest Mobil logo is very timeless and I would never have guessed it was made nearly 50 years ago. It’s a very approachable logo with it’s simplicity although I don’t think the red O makes any different to how you pronounce it because it doesn’t have an E on the end therefore to me it should only be said one way.

¿Is it true that it was designed in Mexico and that Chermayeff & Geismar took all the credit? If this is true and all the info is leaked, wow! This could change a lot of things.

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