Mohawk, formerly Mohawk Fine Papers, has a new logo. The new M is the centerpiece of a dynamic branding system created for Mohawk by Pentagram, to signal the dramatic changes underway as this 81 year-old company reinvents itself to thrive in today’s digital world.
THE NEW MARK
Mohawk’s new mark is based on the letter M. On one level, it is a monogram for the name Mohawk. It is also constructed to evoke the papermaking process and the printing process, both of which involve the paper moving around cylinders. The logo also speaks to the basic idea of connection, which is what Mohawk paper is designed for. “… Whether it’s for a small book of photos featuring your niece and nephew or for a giant global corporation, it’s about communication,” said Michael Bierut, who lead the branding team at Pentagram and whose firm has been Mohawk’s primary brand agency for over 20 years.
A MARK FOR A DIGITAL COMPANY IN A DIGITAL WORLD
The logo also speaks to the connections Mohawk is leveraging in the digital, design, and photo spaces to develop new web-based offerings, as well the strategic partnerships Mohawk has recently forged with companies like Blurb.com and Moo.com. “The logo is toy-like, which encourages experimentation,” said Bierut.
When Mohawk was exclusively a papermaker, the logo was primarily visible on advertising, swatchbooks, brochures, and ream wraps. Today, Mohawk does much more online and off. “There are situations where the logo functions as more of an ingredient, an ‘endorsing brand,’ like in the case of Felt & Wire [http://www.feltandwire.com] and other digital media enterprises,” said Bierut. “For these online experiences, Mohawk should not be the headline, but something supporting a larger experience. We are in a world where a lot of things depend on apps, so having a logo that can be reduced to a button and that works adjacent to a URL and so forth is important.”
“Mohawk needed a symbol — a reducible thing that can work with the name ‘Mohawk’ but also stand alone. This time, the identity needs to function in many, many more ways than the first and second times we had approached this,” he said. Pentagram redesigned the Mohawk logo first in 1991 and again in 2002.
NEW MOHAWK COLORS: EXPRESSING CHANGE AND CHANGEABILITY
The M, with or without the name “Mohawk,” appears in different colors and configurations depending upon whom Mohawk is talking with, where the conversation is taking place, and when, emphasizing Mohawk’s desire to connect with all of its customers, each in a more personal way. “We wanted to show that a company that has been around as long as Mohawk has — with stability and endurance — is still capable of changing the way it looks the next time you see it, and the time after that and the time after that. Color is a great tool to do that,” said Bierut. When asked if it was challenging to decide what colors would best express Mohawk, Bierut said, “I would say the hardest part was reducing all the different colors and combinations that looked fantastic to a practical number we could use for the launch.”
THE MOHAWK BRAND SYSTEM
The M is, by design, a building-block to a dynamic, colorful branding system that will become increasingly apparent to customers over time. Brand assets for the launch include more than a dozen color variations of the core logo. Multiple patterns, derived from the shape of the M, were created by the Pentagram team for the brand launch; more iterations are expected over time.
This fluid, evolutionary approach to branding meets another strategic need for Mohawk. “We have a history of working with many design studios,” said Mohawk’s Laura Shore, SVP, Communications and Innovation Strategy. “Pentagram has always done our branding, but we like to bring in the best person or team for any given project, whether it’s VSA Partners, AdamsMorioka, CarboneSmolan, Volume Inc., Tomorrow Partners, or a local partner like Aurora Design. So the system needed to inspire and engage other designers — and yet provide a sort of vision map at the same time. Pentagram understands that, embraces that, and they’ve created a toolkit that encourages experimentation.”
The changing nature of Mohawk’s brand architecture is now visible via the work of recent Mohawk design partners, such as San Francisco-based Hydrant, charged with creating the brand experience for MohawkConnects.com and Michael McGinn Design Office, the firm that designed and engineered Mohawk’s primary specification system and related tools. “Nothing excites me more than seeing the early brand strategy work conducted by Nucleus Branding begin to unfold in the market. And nothing could be more important at this point in Mohawk’s evolution as a company,” said Shore.