11 Nov 2016

The Meatball and The Worm

Clients often don’t see eye-to-eye with our design decisions. They may have an aversion to certain colors or may have personal preferences that are not actually representatives of their customers or users.

They may even ultimately prefer the old design. That was the case with an ill-fated redesign of the NASA identity in the 1970s. Design studio Danne & Blackburn was commissioned by a federal program to develop a new identify for the space agency. The result was “the worm”, a logo designed to speak to the agency’s future rather than its past.

“The worm” was generally well-received amongst the design community, but NASA employees largely rejected it. No formal announcement was ever made to employees to announce the new identity or its vision. Instead, stationary featuring the new identity appeared at the organization without any explanation of the change. The logo lasted for two decades until it was eventually rescinded and replaced by “the meatball” in 1992.

The Meatball and The Worm

“The Worm” continues to be beloved by designers today. A recent Kickstarter to re-issue the NASA graphics standards manual was wildly successful. “The Worm” also serves as an important reminder of the importance of both design research and selling design in an effort to create a final product that is accepted by the entire organization.