What do you think of when you hear the name “Polaroid”?
You probably think of … a Polaroid instant film camera. AKA: a Polaroid.
But until last week, Polaroid cameras were actually “Polaroid Originals.”
Owing to its historic brand power and the recognition of its classic name, the company, which also makes smart TVs, 3D printers, headphones, speakers, large-format printers and even digital cameras, is now reverting back to “Polaroid” for its signature product.
The “Polaroid Originals” name debuted in 2017, though the complicated story of the brand’s evolution has been years in the making. Polaroid was founded in 1937 by Edwin Land to produce ski goggles and 3D glasses for the military. In 1943, Land’s daughter pondered why she wasn’t able to see a photo taken of herself instantly, seeding the idea for a revolutionary new camera. The ’40s saw the introduction of the first instant camera, and Polaroid’s groundbreaking SX-70 in 1972 cemented their legacy. (As did the Polaroid embrace by Andy Warhol and other pop art purveyors.)
The problem? The rise of the digital camera, which offered its own means of instant gratification. The company struggled financially, and Polaroid aficionados were heartbroken when it ceased production of its film in 2008. But then, a group of film hounds banded together under the name “The Impossible Project” to seemingly do the impossible, and saved the company’s last film factory. Polish investor Oskar Smołokowski, who had served as CEO of Impossible, acquired Polaroid’s holding company in 2017, and married the two brands, bringing Polaroid instant cameras to new life once again under the “Originals” name.
Alongside the new unified “Polaroid” name, the company is unveiling fresh branding and launching a new autofocus instant analog camera, Polaroid Now. It will be available for a limited time in Polaroid’s five signature colors, alongside the classic black and white housing. As Smołokowski says, “In the ’70s, Polaroid changed the rules of branding with the introduction of bold, full-panel rainbow spectrums across our product lines, inspiring a host of legendary brands to this day. As this new decade marks a new chapter in the Polaroid story, it’s a moment for us to celebrate that heritage, while keeping our sights set on the future.”
Welcome back, Polaroid.
And can we just say: Does anything seem greater right now than freely frolicking outside with a Polaroid?