History Lesson Of The MTV Logo

The MTV logo, with its fat “M” and spray-painted scrawl of “TV” on the lower right corner, is one of the most recognizable and imitated logos in existence today.

Designed by Frank Olinsky and the team at Manhattan Design in 1981, it is a graphic that can stand various changes and treatments, depending on the occasion, without ever losing its base design and familiarity.

Coupled with the images of the astronauts on the first moon landing and the slogan “I want my MTV,” this innovative branding surely had a strong impact on MTV’s quick success.

[pullquote quote=”They used to give us tapes of MTV so that we could look at it and see what we were doing.” credit=”Mark Goodman, MTV Former Veejay”]Another approach that was ground-breaking at the time included the promotional commercials using A-List artists repeating the slogan. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Cyndi Lauper[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Boy George[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]David Bowie[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Billy Idol[/lastfm] appeared in this commercial, encouraging watchers to “turn it on, leave it on,” because prior to MTV, people didn’t put on a TV show to “have on in the background” the way they did with radio. But MTV was a ‘visual radio station’ that you could have playing while you talked on the phone, read or did homework. Having rock stars entice you to watch the station gave MTV an image of coolness.

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