Uncommonly among national monthly magazines of a certain age, Fortune has shown a taste for reinventing its nameplate or logo, which first appeared at the top of the inaugural issue in February 1930. (Historians will note that it technically first appeared on the cover of the “dummy” issue dated September 1929 and distributed to prospective advertisers, but let’s not split hairs.)
The nameplates of such titles as Time (b. 1923), Esquire (b. 1933), and Vogue (b. 1892) have been tweaked over the years to clarify their original purpose, even as the articles and artwork behind them shifted, at times dramatically. That’s true for Fortune, too—but at certain moments in its history, the title radically reimagined how it presents its name to the world.
Fortune was founded to be a luxurious, forward-looking publication—”the Ideal Super-Class Magazine,” founder Henry Luce wrote in 1929—that was “richly illustrated” and “distinguished” and whose “de luxe” pages conveyed an “arresting vitality.” To Luce, the world was rapidly evolving into an “Industrial Civilization.” His lush new title would reflect the hope, promise, and prestige of the new world order.
In that spirit, Fortune has occasionally revamped the styling of its name. Generations of aspiring executives know Fortune for its strong, all-caps serif typeface; it hasn’t always been so. The title spent the first 18 years of its life in mixed case, and returned to it for a brief period in the early 1950s. And exactly five of the 10 logos that Fortune has seen over its lifetime weren’t in serif typefaces at all—from the low-rise spread capital letters of the title’s mid-century modern period to the, well, groovier options that carried the publication through the 1970s and 1980s. (Yeah, baby.)
Our newest logo, introduced this week, aims to revive Fortune’s modernist heritage and yet take it into a new direction. (To learn more, read creative director Paul Martinez’s brief post on the subject.) How does it fit into 86 years of history? Here’s a look.