When Branding Was Just Logos . . .
And logos were trademarks, simple images or complex designs that relied solely on the printer’s artistic talent to sketch and the engraver’s skill to make reproductions. These were not just anonymous illustrators but highly capable crafts persons who could transform the Spirit of 76 into a seal, or make a hotel luck majestic, or render the letters GE into possibly (along with Coca Cola) the longest lasting, virtually unchanged American trademark.
Logos or marks were not strategized, refined or refreshed. Branding was not a verb or a noun. It was the initial stages of commercial art prior to the introduction of graphic design, when advertising agencies and printers collaborated on making business graphics, which evolved into corporate identity, often using the product package itself as the identifier.
It wasn’t that it was any easier to create effective graphics in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it was a process that involved less “stakeholders” with their host of taboos and restrictions. These below were complex, but don’t you just love the inherent simplicity? Ahhhhhh.