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Jon Canemaker's 1992 article on MTV’s graphic design included some of the original logo development I had forgotten about for 30 years, and it makes a nice companion to my first logo post. My creative partner Alan Goodman and I were interviewed, as was the Manhattan Design group that created the logo in the first place. Also, the teams put together by Judy McGrath and Abby Terkuhle are well represented with the great work they did after we left.
Our early 1980 logo choice came before the channel was even named, so we opted for a pure graphic. Manhattan Design thought it was symbolized “fresh squeezed music.” We thought it was fun.
We also liked the idea that musicians (like Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick) could interact with the logo. The network would hold onto the idea even when the logo evolved.
Finally, in the spring of 1981 we settled on a compromise name that no one really liked (really. “MTV” sounded clunky to some and reminded others of the really popular MTM production company), and Manhattan Design quickly tried to integrate the squeezable note into the call letters. Alan and I just as quickly decided we needed to go in another direction. Did I mention we needed to do it quickly?
MD partner Patti Rogoff came up with the “M”. Frank Olinsky drew this “TV” because of the prevailing “new wave" design trends. "M" good, "TV" *gong*.
I barely remember this version. MD’s Pat Gorman says in the article that it was because of “nervous higher ups.” She could be right.
MD’s Frank Olinsky spray painted the “TV”, drips and all, in the Manhattan Design stairwell. The “M” was painted later when someone was worried about the big M not reading. Or something like that.