How Paul Rand Made Companies Care About Design—And Influenced Steve Jobs

Of course, Apple would not be the successful company it is if design wasn’t essential to their creative process. It was the aesthetics that drew me to the Mac OS platform in the early 80s when black screens with white text were the interface between you and the computer.


It was the success of [Paul] Rand’s corporate communications for IBM in the ‘50s that inspired future businesses, including Steve Jobs’s NeXT, to put design first. When Thomas Watson Jr. took over IBM in 1956, he was struck by how poorly the company handled corporate design. The aesthetic was inconsistent across various platforms–for example, “branches in different regions would use different stationery,” Albrecht says… “Watson Jr. was one of the first to say ‘good design is good business,'” Albrecht says.

Led by design consultant Eliot Noyes, previously of the New York Museum of Modern Art, this program ultimately hired Charles and Ray Eames to do IBM’s exhibitions and books, architect Errol Saarinen to design buildings, and Paul Rand to design new logo and graphics. “Rand made everyone use his logo and branding,” Albrecht says. At the time, this sort of visually cohesive communication across all platforms of a brand was…

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