The name International Business Machines was proven successful as a moniker in Canada for seven years prior to becoming the official name of the entire fast-growing international company. When Thomas Watson Sr. changed the name, he oversaw the creation of IBM’s first corporate logo. Thus began the evolution of IBM’s brand identity that culminated in Paul Rand’s iconic “8-bar logo,” which remains to this day one of the world’s most recognized corporate marks.
The IBM brand identity: a brief history
The IBM logo, along with the business it signified, transformed through its initial decades. The gallery below illustrates its journey.
The evolution of IBM
Songs of the IBM
With a fresh new name and renewed sense of purpose, IBM enjoyed a surge of corporate pride in the 1920s that lasted throughout its subsequent decades of growth. A musical tradition, dating back to one of its predecessor companies, International Time Recording Company, was reinvigorated, with the publication of the Songs of the IBM song book in 1927.
How did IBM get its distinctive nickname, “Big Blue?” While the name came about organically, with no known single source, the first official reference in print to IBM as "Big Blue" was in BusinessWeek magazine:
“No company in the computer business inspires the loyalty that IBM does, and the company has accomplished this with its almost legendary customer service and support … As a result, it is not uncommon for customers to refuse to buy equipment not made by IBM, even though it is often cheaper. ‘I don't want to be saying I should have stuck with the “Big Blue,”’ says one IBM loyalist. ‘The nickname comes from the pervasiveness of IBM's blue computers.’”
BusinessWeekJune 8, 1981