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The History of and Story Behind the Ford Logo


The childhood dream of Henry Ford was to make cars. In 1902, Ford asked Alexander Y. Malcomson for a loan because his previous company, The Detroit Automobile Company, failed. In an article by global car brands, "On June 16th, 1903, the Ford Motor Company was established with over 12 investors that owned a total of 1,000 of the company's shares. Nevertheless, Ford and Malcomson retained 51%" The Ford Motor Company was profitable by 1905, reaching almost $300,000. However, it wasn't without pitfalls. Malcomson and Ford collaborated with the Dodge Brothers, who supplied the parts for their vehicles. Malcomson and Ford realized they'd made a mistake. The amount of money they were using for the details. Instead of letting the company go, they brought in more investors. Several years later, they created the vehicle that set a precedent in the automobile industry.

The Model T was the vehicle that gave middle-class workers freedom they hadn't experienced before. It was Ford's delicious use of assembly lines that made this vehicle mass-produced. Along with the industry-defining Model T, the Ford logo is one of the most iconic symbols. An article by Logo Central stated, "Ford logo – also known as Blue Oval logo – is among the most recognizable car brand emblems. The Ford emblem is also among the oldest and most valuable brands globally." It's another achievement for a company whose cars hold the same status level. Even though Henry Ford experienced many pitfalls in his company, even failing the first time around. However, the logo was an instant success. The company's innovation has kept them at the forefront of the automobile industry. The logo is the symbol of their historical success.

Ford's first logo

Before the iconic Ford logo, they experimented with many designs. The first was a black and white logo with scrolling that looked similar to vines. Instead of Ford, the logo was "Ford Motor Co. Detroit, -Mich-" Used 1903 to 1907. Some people even thought it was Henry Ford's signature. This script saw the addition of long-tailed "F" and "D" letters. This logo was used on all Ford cars up to the end of 1910. It was then that we got the first glimpses of what would become the signature Ford script to this day." The following logo the company used coincided with the vehicle that revolutionized the auto industry.

Classic Ford logo design

Childe Harris Willis was a friend and associate of Henry Ford. They first met while working together at Ford's first business attempt, Detroit Automobile Company. The company was unsuccessful, but their friendship remained. He started his career with the Ford motor company in 1927, creating a logo; he used a stencil kit. The lettering was similar to handwriting he and Ford used as children. The stamp had a nickname, "The Blue Oval, still used today. Willis also helped design The Model T, the first car to use the logo. Since the traditional logo's inception, there have been eight additional changes. The first shift in the logo didn't last. In 1912, the company added a border that looked like a Phoenix. Additionally, they the words "The Universal Car" under Ford. The following year they dropped it because it didn't resonate with their customers. From the beginning, Ford wanted to create an accessible vehicle for the middle class. This logo did not convey the company's image.

They made a slight shift in 1957. Although the border stayed, it was more angular. Ford used this logo until 1976. However, there was one additional logo idea that never made it to the assembly line. In 1966, Henry Ford II thought the logo needed a major overhaul. He contacted Paul Rand, a renowned logo designer. His portfolio was impressive. IBM, ABC, Westinghouse, Cummins, and UPS logos are Rands's designs. The concept he designed included a lighter blue, and he changed the circle to a rectangle. Additionally, he modernized the lettering. Instead of using Willis' stencil-inspired letters, he opted for trendy lettering. Henry Ford II dropped the idea. He knew that much like the other times, the new logo wouldn't work with their company. The story was similar to the 1912 logo. The company felt their customers wouldn't associate it with the vehicles. Again, it didn't fit the working man business model. The previous year the Ford Mustang debuted, the only vehicle that has a different logo than other Ford cars.

The last logo change

2003 marked Ford's centennial year. They wanted to keep the same logo but make a few changes. They shrank the oval and changed the blue to a gradient, the only time a difference in the logo remained. Even for this occasion, Ford didn't want to make any drastic changes. It was uncertain if the company would lose the logo in 2006. During an economic downturn, many companies, including Ford, were losing money. Unlike other automobile companies, they didn't use a bailout. Alan Mullay was the current CEO and decided to borrow money to save the company.  The trademarks were the logos for the Mustang, F-15, and the classic Ford Logo.

Since 1908, when the Tin Lizzy rolled off the assembly line, any logo changes Ford made have been dismissed. Thoughtco wrote, "The Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century as it became a symbol of America's modernization." The Ford logo matched that fame. One of the most notable things about the company is its commitment to standards and quality. Although they've stayed on the cutting edge they've never lost the original vision of Henry Ford. The logo mirrors this philosophy. Since 1903, Ford has been one of the most influential players in the automobile industry, with every vehicle recognized for quality and its logo.

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Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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