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Icons of Progress

The Making of International Business Machines

The name International Business Machines was proven successful as a moniker in Canada for seven years prior to becoming the official name of the entire fast-growing international company. When Thomas Watson Sr. changed the name, he oversaw the creation of IBM’s first corporate logo. Thus began the evolution of IBM’s brand identity that culminated in Paul Rand’s iconic “8-bar logo,” which remains to this day one of the world’s most recognized corporate marks.


The IBM brand identity: a brief history

The IBM logo, along with the business it signified, transformed through its initial decades. The gallery below illustrates its journey.

Songs of the IBM

With a fresh new name and renewed sense of purpose, IBM enjoyed a surge of corporate pride in the 1920s that lasted throughout its subsequent decades of growth. A musical tradition, dating back to one of its predecessor companies, International Time Recording Company, was reinvigorated, with the publication of the Songs of the IBM song book in 1927.


“Big Blue”

How did IBM get its distinctive nickname, “Big Blue?” While the name came about organically, with no known single source, the first official reference in print to IBM as "Big Blue" was in BusinessWeek magazine: