Establishing itself in Chicago in 1965, Unimark was made up of several different groundbreaking designers like Rand Paul. Unimark acted like a big corporation in order to receive other big corporations as clients. Giant corporations were not interested in hiring a small studio to do its designs.
Unimark started in Chicago, but expanded to several other major cities around the world. Ralph Eckstrom was the president, and Massimo Vignelli, Jay Doblin, and Bob Noorda were the vice presidents. It was the first organization to devote itself to modernism on an international scale.
They created Target’s famous red target logo, designed the subway signs for New York City, designed American Airlines’ identity system, along with many others. Noorda was behind Milan’s subway signs and maps, Vignelli integrated Ford’s original logo with a more modern identity, and the designers of Unimark were behind JCPenny’s logo. Its designs were clean, logical, consistent, and timeless.
The problem, however, was the inherent stress between the marketing people and the design people within the company. Marketing is all about what the new and latest strategy should be, while the design team wanted to create work that could last forever.
A lot of the designers left because they didn’t want to take on small, trivial projects the marketing team brought in. Consequently, there was a mass exodus in 1972, and all of Unimark’s offices were officially closed in 2000.