The Design Corps recently had the privilege of hosting a Corps Coffee conversation with Bruce Blackburn about the NASA logo design. Widely recognized and honored for his work, Bruce has produced hundreds of logos, posters, and graphic standards throughout his career—most famously for NASA in 1975 at his firm Danne & Blackburn. We picked his brains about the process, what design was like in New York in the 70’s, and how far things have come
Bruce shared some very interesting insight into the process and what it was like to work with NASA at such a pivotal time in history. Given NASA’s recent accomplishments, the administration and President Nixon himself, realized it was crucial that NASA brand themselves accordingly. Bids were requested, and Danne & Blackburn responded.
The logo you see was the original version created and presented by Bruce, one solution that was spot on. Of course there were comments, such as “I’m simply not comfortable with those letters, something is missing”, in response to the cross bar of the A having been removed. But it was a significant leap for a government organization to take on such a rebrand. And from a design standpoint, it was huge success given the timeless quality of the logo.
Unfortunately, after many years of using the worm logo, NASA reverted back to their original (1959) logo design in 1992, commonly referred to as the “meatball” logo. You can also check out LogoDesignLove’s article on the subject at: logodesignlove.com/nasa-logo.
Bruce was kind enough to bring one of his original copies of the Graphic Standards Manual for NASA for our perusal, including an untouched swatch page of NASA Red.