Design: Landor Associates (USA)
The Haloid Photographic Company, a manufacturer of photographic paper and equipment was founded in 1906 in Rochester, NY. From 1961, the company was simply known as Xerox, in recognition of the success of one of its innovative products: a plain paper photocopier using the process of xerography. As it expanded to become a leader in office technologies, the brand name ‘Xerox’ virtually became synonymous with photocopying.
By the early 1990s, Xerox sought to turn its products into a service, providing a complete document service to companies including supply, maintenance and support. In 1994, to reinforce this strategy, the company introduced a prominent corporate signature The Document Company above its main logo (the restrained symmetrical wordmark devised by Chermayeff & Geismar in 1968) and a new corporate symbol: a red ‘Digital X’. With an ascending arm dissipating into pixels, the trademark was conceived to signal the increasing movement of documents between the analog and digital worlds. Designed by Margo Zucker of Landor Associates, the Digital X was distinctive, communicative and expressive of the place that Xerox occupied at that moment – bridging new and old technologies and processes. The design was an inventive interpretation of a conspicuous letter; and recognition of X as the quintessential mark. The immediacy and vigour of the symbol (together with tremendous advertising resources) quickly established it in the public mind.
By the first decade of the 21st century, Xerox faced new challenges and decided to revamp its image as a software and technology service provider. In January 2008, the company announced that it would retire the Digital X in favour of “a brand identity that reflects the Xerox of today.” The new logo consists of a lower-case ‘xerox’ that sits alongside a red sphere sketched with lines that link to form a stylised X (designed by Interbrand). According to the company, the new symbol represents “Xerox’s connections to its customers, partners, industry and to innovation.”
The successor of the Digital X is formally less distinguished, and joins the recent epidemic of Digital Age clichés, such as shaded spheres and bubblified forms (e.g. AT&T, GSK and KPN). This is a sad trend in corporate identity design that is fuelled by the latest software, and mired in its own spin of meaning.