TD60 Icon - Randstad

TD60 Randstad: The unwavering heritage of an iconic logo

For this month’s TD60 icon, we took a dive into Randstad’s history, straight from its headquarters in Diemen. We had the pleasure of meeting Global Design Manager Wim Vos, a living encyclopedia when it comes to the evolution of this staffing agency that now operates in 39 countries.

In an office building as sleek as the lines of its iconic logo, designed by none other than Ben Bos, we were welcomed with warmth and openness. A calling card of sorts, if you ask us. But let’s go back in time, to the days when founder Frits Goldschmeding personally cycled his first temporary worker to work in 1960. Yes, you read correctly, on a bicycle!

The bicycle quickly became a symbol for Randstad, and today each employee receives a new miniature each year, symbolizing a sponsored project. They have now become real collectors’ items, according to Wim. It seems the story of Randstad began on two wheels.

Anyway, there Frits was, cycling through the streets of Amsterdam, bustling with activity but without a logo or corporate identity. There were plenty of ambitions, both national and international, and they needed a logo that would fit different cultures. And so Total Design came into the picture; the design agency that saw the light of day in 1963 thanks to Wim Crouwel, Friso Kramer, Benno Wissing and Dick Schwarz. The honor of being hired as the first designer fell to Ben Bos, and in 1967 he presented the iconic Randstad logo.

Frits was impressed with Ben Bos’ efficiency and the clean letters and colors Total Design used. Not just because it looked good, but mainly because Frits had in mind the creation of a cost-efficient corporate identity. Less = more was the motto, and that led to the Randstad logo that you would recognize out of thousands.

The typography at the time was under the spell of Helvetica, but around ’86/’87 they switched to the Frutiger font on the advice of Total Design. Why? Because the book ‘Holland in Vorm’ was used as an example in which Frutiger was applied. This font had a more open and friendly character and they found that suited Randstad perfectly. The color blue changed to a warmer shade of blue and the logo was also slightly modified. The design by Ben Bos, with clean lines, the two mirrored ‘r’s balanced. Simple but powerful. The mirrored curve symbolizes the link between companies and temps, and it stands like a house thanks to the graphic geometry, completely in balance.

Wim Vos shared his experiences of working with Ben Bos, the eccentric Jelle van der Toorn, and the phase of change with agencies such as BRS Premsela Vonk and Studio Dumbar. Maintaining the Randstad identity was always essential, even when other agencies wanted to make their mark.

Fast forward to 2023, and the logo designed by Ben Bos still appears to be timeless. We asked Wim if any consideration was ever given to drastically changing the logo, making it tighter, or changing the colors. “Oh no,” Wim laughs, “there was once an agency that wanted to do it completely differently, but our arguments were strong enough to keep the logo.” In 2016, American agency Huge took on the challenge of developing Randstad’s new corporate identity. A risk, such an American company for a very Dutch company, but given Randstad’s international growth, it seemed worth it. But, there was a clear brief to leave the logo untouched.

As a global market leader, the company nurtures both business and graphic ambitions. In the graphic field, it aims to separate the visual mark from the brand name and give “the vignette” an unmistakable recognition and emotional impact, similar to iconic brands such as Shell or Nike. “While the logo may be familiar in the Netherlands, we still have a lot of work ahead of us internationally to reach a wider audience and gain the same level of global recognition,” Wim said.

The logo designed by Ben Bos, now 56 years old, still stands like a house. Asked if it will ever retire, Wim Vos answers with conviction, “As long as I don’t retire yet, it will stay. It’s just fine. But let me say emphatically that it is not mine. It belongs to all of us and we should therefore cherish it together.”
And so the Randstad logo remains a timeless symbol of efficiency, recognition and connection. A foundation on which the company has been built and continues to grow.