DEARBORN, MI — The Blue Oval logo is back atop Ford Motor Co. world headquarters here following a 3-year absence and after the current top management team deemed it better than what had replaced it.
A big Blue Oval had adorned the “Glass House” since the 1960s, but was quietly removed in May of 2000. Replacing it was “Ford Motor Company” in script lettering.
The switch sparked a debate that apparently is resolved with the return of a 50-ft.-long Blue Oval on the building during an unveiling ceremony attended by hundreds of Ford workers, many of whom wondered why it had been removed in the first place. Its resurrection came a week before the auto maker's centennial celebration.
The debate centered on which signage most effectively conveyed the spirit of Ford.
Blue Oval critics say it had outlived its usefulness; become too middle class; and failed to convey Ford's portfolio of higher-end brands such as Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo and Land Rover.
“After Ford made those acquisitions, there was concern that the Blue Oval was too much of a Ford Div. logo,” says a company spokesman. “There were even rumors we were going to put it on Land Rovers and Jaguars.”
The script sign that bumped it off the building was seen as an umbrella name or “trust mark.” The Blue Oval remained in service for the Ford Div. and at Ford dealerships, but not as a corporate symbol.
Blue Oval backers say it's the second most-recognizable logo in the world, after Coca-Cola, and reflects the auto maker's deep roots and rich heritage.
“People would ask me, ‘Why would you dump a logo that's recognized worldwide?’” says the Ford spokesman. “I've had college students ask me that.”
The logo came off the building during Jacques Nasser's reign as CEO. He lost that job in late 2001, replaced by Chairman Bill Ford Jr., a Blue Oval advocate who attended the lively ceremony marking its return.
When the “Ford Motor Co.” script adorned the building, there was a palpable difference in climate, says Bill Ford, great-grandson of the company's founder.
“It just didn't feel right,” he tells Ward's.