MobilPosted by John Bowles on May 9, 2011 Share
Mobil Oil and Gas is one of the most recognizable petroleum brands in the world. With the exception of a merger with Exxon in 1999, their brand mark has held relatively true since Tom Geismar designed it in 1964. I once heard Steff Geissbuler speak on the context of the rebrand. In his words, "the problems determined the solution."
Mobil used to be called Mobilgas. The company's naming architecture went like this: Mobiloil, Mobilgrease, Mobillubrication, etc. It was a mouthful in some cases. So in the 60′s they began clarifying things by separating the "Mobil" name from it's various products. This meant their name, Mobil, would have to stand alone by itself. There was fear the name would be mispronounced. People might pronounce it Mobile or Moobil. It was a verbal problem needing a visual solution. Geismar realized that if he could encourage people to see the "o" first as a letter then they would pronounce it correctly in the word. He knew it needed to be distinguished from the logotype in some way.
Geismar had been commissioned by famous architect Eliot Noyes who Mobil hired to help redesign their gas stations. Noyes developed a cylindrical pump and round canopy design to distinguish their stations from others which were more angular or square. The new design aesthetic called for a complimentary round logotype. My opinion, but knowing Geismar's problem guided approach, the emphasis on the "o" may have inspired Noyes's cylindrical design. Regardless, the Mobil brand identity was quite cohesive.
Over the years the architecture has changed. The round canopy's look rather dated today. But still that durable logotype has remained. A simplicity and commitment which has helped make Mobil one of the most recognizable brands in the world.