Annual Color Forecast SPONSORED BY PANTONE
On April 16, Tom O’Connor (formally known as Thomas D. O’Connor, Jr., Chairman & CEO of Mohawk) launched the company’s new brand identity in an animated video on the MohawkConnects.com homepage. The short video is black-and-white, then “colored in” with two hues chosen by Pentagram for Mohawk’s new brand color palette. The final seconds of the video reveal the multi-color M monogram, complete with ringtone.
Pentagram partner Michael Bierut led the branding redesign team, as he had for the two previous Mohawk identities (1991, 2002). Both of the earlier designs were one color, prominently featuring “Mohawk” in all uppercase. In dramatic contrast, the new M monogram is designed to work in almost infinite color combinations, with or without “mohawk” (all lowercase) in black.
The Green Two-Tone Logo
Bierut offers this thinking behind the bright green and green logo: “We looked at many different color versions. Green signals some nice things about Mohawk. Paper is an agricultural product, in the sense that you’re consuming something that’s been planted and harvested. Paper’s connection to the environment isn’t a remote one at all. It’s very direct. Mohawk really views their role as being stewards of the environment, and green’s a logical shade for that.”
Bierut adds that the team “also played with the simple geometry of the M, whose five circles and eight lines form a lot of internal organic shapes. This may sound highfaluting, but when you put the elements in certain colors – including greens – they suggest the meeting of the natural world and the man-made world in an interesting way.”
The Multi-Color Logo
The overlapping arms of the M allow for the engineered layering of colors. You see five different full-strength dots, four different arms connecting them, and five small triangular “beams of color” at the intersections. The palette is upbeat and energetic.
When asked whether it was challenging to determine the winning colors, Bierut easily says, “Well, there was no agonizing. I remember how easy it was for Katie Barcelona and Joe Marianek and the other designers on the team to experiment, to try different things and play with it. 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 M monogram connects into a repeating pattern. It can suggest moving parts, but it also evokes an accordion fold or stitching or people holding hands. The longer the “chain,” the more dynamic the pattern gets. Here again, the palette can change.
Elemental + Experimental
Pentagram has done Mohawk’s branding for 20 years, but other studios have also designed wonderful promotions, packaging and ephemera for Mohawk. The new brand leaves lots of room for creative interpretation, and Michael McGinn Design Office was the first firm outside Pentagram to design print materials using the new logo and type specifications. (See more on the McGinn firm on the following page.)
Bierut comments, “The logo is kind of toy-like, which encourages experimentation, and I think it will continue to encourage other designers who will use the new identity on Mohawk’s behalf. Bierut himself experimented on the back of the new Mohawk business cards, adding what he calls a “visual rhyme.”
The New Mohawk product selector is a paper-selection tool that is made completely of paper. Tactile and unwasteful, it distills a library of swatchbooks into three double-sided chip charts that streamline the decision-making process. Michael McGinn’s studio specializes in designing sampling systems for various industries. As graphic designers themselves, McGinn and his team welcomed the opportunity to rethink how people look at paper today and make their decisions. McGinn’s mantra for the project: “Make it smarter by making it simpler.”
From the outside, The New Mohawk product selector looks like a traditional swatchbook, measuring 6 x 9 inches. However, its construction is a cross between a slipcase, a pocket folder and a flip-top box. The wraparound cover has a full-height score up the back, so it can be folded down, making it easy to take out (and put back) the multi-panel charts. Inside, the charts are filed horizontally in a pocket that asks the inviting question, “What will you make today?” (Pentagram associate Joe Marianek gets credit for the tagline.)
Sharon Gresh, McGinn’s partner, worked with designer Alex Herrmann to develop the layout and typography for the tools, building on the new branding developed at Pentagram. Each chart presents a collection organized by type of paper, from the user’s perspective.
The Mohawk Essentials chart, for example, presents three colored grades: Carnival (The Cover Paper), Britehue (The Vivid Paper), and Skytone (The Parchment Paper). Mohawk Essentials also includes basically-white coated and digital offerings: 50/10 (The Coated Paper), Opaque (The Workhorse Paper), Color Copy (The Imaging Paper), Everyday Digital (The Digital Production Paper) and Mohawk Specialty Digital (The Un-Paper).
The Mohawk Collection showcases Superfine, Loop, Options and Via. The Strathmore Collection presents cotton and related premium stationery and cover papers.
Of the distinctive shape, McGinn says, “Because many of Mohawk’s papers feature textures and patterns, we needed to ensure that the chips would be oriented properly on the chart. Circles and squares are problematic because they will rotate in the kind of equipment used to make the chips. We finally settled on a chip with a tail.” McGinn adds, “The chip shape also echoes the droplet in the brand M – where the arms of the M overlap at the dot. This gives the chart itself a branding message. The chip begins to become the brand instead of just a bit of paper – a branded shape, if you will.”