NASA Graphic Standards Manual - 1976

NASA Graphic Standards Manual

As some of you already know, I’m a lit­tle obsessed with find­ing vin­tage design mate­ri­als, espe­cially graph­ics man­u­als like this one for the 1976 Mon­treal Olympics. So you can imag­ine how far my jaw dropped when I saw this 1976 NASA Graph­ics Stan­dards Man­ual. Cre­ated by design firm Danne & Black­burn in 1975, this man­ual out­lines the proper use of, in my opin­ion, one of the best brand iden­ti­ties of the last cen­tury. One lucky soul has man­aged to get some hi-res scans of the some of the pages. The hunt has offi­cially begun.

UPDATE: Tim has kindly doc­u­mented more pages from the man­ual, and posted them to his Flickr.

12 Comments on "NASA Graphic Standards Manual - 1976"

  • pat taylor says

    Shame on the USGov. for going back to the orig. design.

  • anonymic says

    I miss the old NASA font/logo. I think it still holds up in a “that’s what I expect a NASA logo to look like” kind of way.

  • Not sure why they ever changed the branded. It’s timeless.

  • hobvias sudoneighm says

    NASA changed the brand­ing because the brand­ing reflected an atti­tude and orga­ni­za­tional cul­ture that very pub­licly killed 7 peo­ple in 1986.

  • artfrankmiami says

    Every­body I talked to at Kennedy Space Cen­ter hated that logo. They call it the worm. The blue “meat­ball” is endear­ing. The 70’s logo does look very good here in this book, but it’s change at the time was equal to the recent rebrand­ing of The Gap. The head office loved it, the peo­ple hated it. It seemes to have been phased out some­time in the late 90’s

  • artfrankmiami says

    Also the meat­ball makes a bet­ter look­ing patch.

  • Mike says

    When NASA chose to aban­don this bril­liant and futur­is­tic design and go back to the retro logo, it was like Apple aban­don­ing the white apple sym­bol and going back to the overly com­plex wood carv­ing illus­tra­tion of the apple tree (its first logo).
    The real rea­son why NASA went back is because a bean counter was put in charge of the agency and he had to piss his mark (no pun intended) to prove he was all about “change”.
    Sadly, this is why many great brands are put to death illog­i­cally. Peo­ple who know noth­ing about design or brand­ing think they do (or don’t give a crap) and give up some­thing good they did not know they had in hand!
    The NASA iden­tity is not for NASA employ­ees, it is for sell­ing the prod­uct the agency pro­duces.
    The old emblem should have been kept as some sort of spe­cial insignia — like the emblem for the agency astro­nauts only. Worn on suits and uni­forms, painted on trucks and equip­ment for manned space flight.
    This solu­tion, hav­ing a pub­lic brand (the type only NASA sig­na­ture) and in house insignia (the old logo illus­tra­tion) is not uncom­mon. Many uni­ver­si­ties have this. Actu­ally, some have three:
    1) a school brand which is used the most in pub­lic to rep­re­sent the aca­d­e­mic and most uni­ver­sity stuff (UUIC “I” col­umn sym­bol or CSU, UC, OS ini­tials, or sim­ply the name — Yale)
    2) a sports iden­tity like an ani­mal as sym­bol (UConn husky)
    3) a uni­ver­sity seal (most often used by the pres­i­dent only and on diplo­mas but some­times, it is also part of the iden­tity).
    NASA should have the Danne & Black­burn sys­tem for all offi­cial stuff going out to the pub­lic. The older “seal” could be reserved for spe­cial mostly in house uses mak­ing it spe­cial to NASA historically.

  • Kendall says

    Nice find. I’d love to see the whole man­ual. As a child of the early 70s, the NASA worm logo has a spe­cial place in my heart, and it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to see how the imple­men­ta­tion of the design was so well thought out across mul­ti­ple platforms.

    That being said, I ques­tion the 1976 date attrib­uted to this par­tic­u­lar man­ual (the AIGA site it links to states it was printed in 1975). My guess is that the fea­tured sam­ple is an updated reprint of the orig­i­nal graphic stan­dards. I only say this because there are dia­grams of the Shut­tle, Shut­tle Train­ing Air­craft (STA), and Hub­ble Space Tele­scope which do not cor­re­late to their appear­ance (or exis­tence) at such an early date.

    The Enter­prise test bed was the first shut­tle vehi­cle rolled out, at the end of 1976, and indeed it car­ried the NASA worm logo, but the final pat­tern of the shuttle’s black ther­mal pro­tec­tion tiles (esp. around the nose and cock­pit of the craft) had not yet been devel­oped. The tiles as shown on this graphic manual’s dia­gram are in their final tile arrange­ment (which was a result of engi­neer­ing neces­si­ties dis­cov­ered through test­ing). Enter­prise fea­tured a more ele­gant, curved sep­a­ra­tion of black and white ther­mal sur­faces at the nose of the craft.

    The choice of the Gulf­stream II for the STA was not decided upon until 1977 (the A-6 Intruder was also being con­sid­ered prior to that date).

    Also, NASA did not begin the design and con­struc­tion of Hub­ble until its bud­get approval in 1978, so the posi­tion of the worm logo on the tele­scope, much less the final design of the satel­lite itself, would prob­a­bly not have been a con­sid­er­a­tion for graphic impli­ca­tions as early as 1976.

  • Ed says

    I have a man­ual from 1976 in mint condition.

  • ugo says

    I would buy a copy of this book. Any­one has a copy for sale?

  • Florian says

    Would love to buy too.

  • hayssam says

    Hi Ed,

    how about pro­vid­ing us with a high-res scan/ pdf ? I would be mainly inter­ested in that pdf, but if nec­es­sary would even buy/ bor­row the man­ual to pro­vide a scan for every­body (if legally pos­si­ble, copy­right is so dif­fi­cult these days).
    Just write me if you still read these comments.