Mohawk, formerly Mohawk Fine Papers, unveiled its new logo. The new M is the centerpiece of a dynamic branding system created by Pentagram, to signal the dramatic changes underway as this 81 year-old company reinvents itself to thrive in today's digital world.
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.
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," added 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 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." 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," explained 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."
New Mohawk Product Selector
Mohawk has taken another bold step in the paper world by simplifying its portfolio of premium paper lines from 22 to six, reducing the number of SKUs in half and challenging the way paper is specified, with the release of a deceptively simple tool for paper specification. The New Mohawk product selector presents all Mohawk papers in one place and is the first in a wave of tools that Mohawk hopes will be paradigm-shifting.
Designed and engineered by Michael McGinn Design Office using the brand designed by Pentagram, the selector opens to three accordion fold charts, each containing several dozen oversize paper chips. Together, they organize Mohawk papers into three broad categories based on performance, character and value.
A booklet, "The New Mohawk," also included, provides a simple guide to all items in the newly organized lines.
"The difference between Mohawk's new sampling and everything that went before it is about 25 inches of shelf space and a tool that is more useful in today's design world," said designer Michael McGinn. Dave Van de Water, Director of Product and Market Development, led the Mohawk initiative to streamline its product offering and create the new sampling tools. "The result of the collaboration is ingenious. Through extensive study, we now better understand the varied ways a new generation of designers and printers are approaching the specification of papers, and it's vastly different than even five years ago."
McGinn added, "The learnings on the project were more about the market we are speaking to - the users of the new materials - than about design or production concerns. In other words, really understanding the significance of the change in the marketplace over the past ten years and then designing for that change and the future is what this is about."