The Story Behind Paul Rand’s NeXT logo


All designers are familiar with the work of Paul Rand. Most know that among his most notable logos (which include Westinghouse, IBM & Cummins) is the NeXT computers logo. It’s planned simplicity suggests nothing about the actual depth that went into the creation of this logo. Put simply, its as much a work of art as any of the great minimalist masterpieces.

In 1985, Steve Jobs, (after resigning from Apple) decided to push forward in the computer industry and formed Next Computers. At the suggestion of one of his employees, Jobs contacted Paul Rand about doing the company’s logo, and there began one of Rand’s masterpieces.

In the initial meeting, Steve didn’t confer much to Paul about what he was really looking for in a logo. What did come across was Steve’s energy, enthusiasm and the implication that Steve liked the cute playfulness of the Apple Computers logo that Rob Janoff had designed in 1977.

Moving forward from his initial impressions of Jobs and utilizing the only structural information he had about the machine, that it would be housed in a cube, Paul Rand began a logical progression through the design of what would become one of his best-known logos.

Step by step, Rand worked through basic concepts that suggested a streamlined but whimsical approach to  icon design. From the use of a lowercase “e”, which breaks up a field of otherwise blocky capitals, to the 28-degree angle of the logo – originally appearing only on the envelope of the presentation book.

This progression from initial thoughts to final logo presentation was developed into an identity presentation book to present to the client.

When the identity presentation book was given to Jobs, he took such a liking to it that he had it reproduced as gifts.

Since then, countless students and professional designers have viewed the book as a source of inspiration and as a textbook of sorts, in the creation of great branding.

I was thrilled when I came across scans of the identity presentation book at imprint. Check it out here and let me know what you think.


Check out some of Paul Rand’s other identity pieces here, including samples from a couple other identity presentation books.

UPDATE: Now that I’ve had time to explore the resources on this last link, I would encourage anyone who is interested in Paul Rand’s work to check it out. The site is and it houses many of his essays, articles and interviews as well as resources and a large gallery. Check it out!


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