CBS Logo, 1951

The Iconic eye logo first appeared on the screens on November 19th 1951.

At this point TV was very popular and was overtaking radio. William Golden, the creative director was asked by Frank Staton, president of CBS, to create a new symbol of CBS that could be used on air. The existing logo prior to the eye was very bland and had no style.

The inspiration for the eye logo design came from a variety of sights that Golden witnessed as she was driving through Pennsylvania. One source of inspiration was taken from symbols that were drawn on shaker barns to warn off evil spirits. He also found a piece of artwork which resembles the shape of an eye in a Shakers magazine which was also very inspiring to him.

Kurt Weihs, a graphic artist for CBS was the first to actually draw the eye logo. Golden and Weihs took the eye drawing, along with two other proposals to CBS management, and neither designs were received with enthusiasm by the group, however the President of CBS did, and chose it.

In the earlier designs the image was created to be a still composition and was shown with a photograph of cloud formations in the background which was reminiscent of René Magritte’s painting, “The False Mirror.". Simplification of the logo began as Staton later got the clouds taken away to add emphasis and clarity to the design. The team saw the power of a minimal icon.

The logo was then shown in motion. On air a camera would zoom and move in through several concentric eyes, each one placed in the others iris. The last eye would reveal a shutter, which would open to display the CBS network ID, before closing again.

The design was never created with the intention of becoming a logo. The eye has originally been created for the use of one season, however a year later when Golden asked what was required for the year after, Staton said nothing. He wanted to make the eye a permanent brand identity. The logo has been the face and the mark of CBS for more than half a century. This is due to the logos memorable characteristics and timeless style which still to this day appears modern.

The design was printed and was made to have a variety of different uses. It was appeared along side the companies signatures, in place of the ‘O’ on the CBS Studio sign and was also used on trucks, mobile units, cameras, exterior of buildings, theater curtains, match boxes, ash trays, press releases an don advertising.

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After 60 years later the eye is still fairly unchanged and remains a big part of the companies identity. This shows the power of the design itself and the way a small symbol can bring a whole business together as a whole.

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