Profile of 3M

The 3M Company is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, United States. 3M has worldwide reach and on of the greatest international presences of any multi-industry company. It's operations span more than 60 countries. There are 29 international subsidiary companies with manufacturing operations, 35 international laboratories and distributors and retailers managing sales in nearly every country in the world with 63% of 3M's total revenue comes from outside the United States as of 2009. The company also makes many 3M products available online for purchase.

3M's over 80,000 employees produce more than 55,000 products sold in more than 200 countries.  These products are broken into six business segments:

  • Healthcare *medical products, dental products)
  • Industrial & Transportation (adhesives, abrasives, laminates)
  • Consumer & Office, (post it notes, tape)
  • Display & Graphics (D&G) (optical films)
  • Electro & Communications, (electronic materials, , electronic circuits)
  • Safety, Security & Protection (passive fire protection, traffic signals, car care products such as sun films, polish, wax, car shampoo, treatment for the exterior, interior and the under chassis rust protection)

Innovation is the key to the company's success with up to a third of annual sales coming from new products.

3M trades on the NYSE as MMM.  It is a DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE component and a member of the S&P 500.

History of 3M

The history of innovation that sees mistakes as opportunities started on June 13, 1902. Five men walked into John Dwan's office in Two Harbors Minnesota to sign the incorporation documents for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, later renamed 3M Company. They thought they were going to sell a valuable mineral called corundum to eastern manufacturers for grinding wheels.

What they actually had was worthless anorthosite and it made a lousy abrasive.  They failed to make useful sand paper, but rather than give up, they persevered, turning to imported Spanish garnet, and building a good business.

The company's second serious problem came in 1914 with catastrophic product failure. Customer were complaining the garnet was falling off the sand paper. One worker noticed that the minerals left an oily residue when soaked in water. 

It was uncovered that the garnet had been shipped with olive oil while travelling from Spain. Rough seas spilled the olive oil into the garnet. The oily garnet would not stick properly to the paper and cloth backings causing product failure. 

But 3M couldn't chuck the garnet - it was vital inventory. Instead, they had to find a way to get the oil out. The garnet was too expensive to throw out, so they tried washing and baking the stone to remove  the oil, and it worked.

It took years for 3M to restore its reputation, but 3M's early misadventures taught the company an important lesson: ingenuity and perseverance can overcome even potentially ruinous mistakes.The company started its own lab in the wake of the oiled garnet disaster which was a critical step in the development of a culture of innovation.

A glue that would not stick very well lead to the invention of Post-It Notes and R&D continues to be the key to 3M's growth.

History of the 3M Logo

The 3M logo is the key element of the company's corporate identity. The company has worked hard to develop the logo into a corporate asset that is a symbol for innovative, reliable products and services from a company people can trust.  This information is summarized from 3M corporate site, where the logo images were borrowed from.


3M Logo 1The First 50 Years

4 years after the company was founded, the first 3M logo appeared in 1906. The 1906 logo design was complex with the company’s full name and headquarters surrounding a diamond containing the term "3M Co" twice.

In 1950 3M debuted a simplified logo, but there was no standards manual to provide guidelines on proper use so variations of logo flourished. In some cases, the oval was completely abandoned and the "3M" stood alone. Another version of this logo with a laurel leaf was used to celebrate 3M's 50th anniversary in 1952.


3M Logo 2Professional Logo Intervention

By 1960, 3M was a major international corporation producing more than 27,000 products with sales of $550 million, and a third logo phase began. 3M hired New York design firm Gerald Stahl and Associates to create a definitive logo that would unite the corporation and all of its business units under a single sign. The new logo was a "3M" with a decidedly industrial look.

When the new logo was announced in 1961, Joseph C. Duke, 3M executive vice president, explained the design rationale in a story in Advertising Age magazine: "When one product, division or subsidiary makes a favorable impression anywhere, every other 3M division, subsidiary or product should benefit. In turn, the achievements and prestige of the 3M company should benefit each product and activity of the company."


3M Logo 3Lots of Variations

The new logo design came with an identification system manual showing proper use of the symbol and overall graphics system but the system began with no fewer than four approved variations of the logo, and that number multiplied rapidly. Different divisions created exceptions to the logo rules, running against the objectives set forth by Duke.

A critical exception to the logo use rules was packaging. By 1965, 3M had many inconsistent brand and package designs so Brooks Stevens Associates, a Milwaukee, Wis., design firm, was hired to restore order to the corporate branding. Brooks Stevens concept called for each 3M package to have three color blocks that identified the product, the division and a third with the 3M logo. The system retained the logo and special typeface developed earlier by Stahl in New York.


3M Logo 4Developing of the Modern 3M Mark

In 1977, 3M embarked on phase four in the evolution of the logo and the result was the current simple yet iconic logo. Siegel & Gale (S&G), a New York design firm, was hired to audit the existing logo and branding system. At the core of S&G’s recommendations was a new logo design — a very simple symbol in a modified Sans Serif typeface with the "3" and "M" touching one another. A new corporate color - red - was also introduced with the new 3M design.

A new 3M Corporate Identity and Design department guided the changeover on a case-by-case basis. This time, 3M learned from the mistakes around the 1961 logo design implementation, and this time they trained corporate communications personnel around the 3M world on how to use the new logo an color correctly. The result is one of the world's most valuable and widely recognized brands.

3M Corporate Gifts

Buying a 3M collectible is a great choice for current or former employees of 3M, investors that made a lot of money with 3M or others that use 3M products in their business. 

Collectable Games

A line of 3M Bookshelf Games produced in the 1960s and 1970s has developed a collector following.  Titles include Phlounder, Ploy, Oh Wah Ree, and High-Bid.  Check eBay and collectible stores for these titles.

NASCAR'S Greg Biffle and 3M

3M, along with Ford Motor Company sponsors Greg Biffle and the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion. As a result, there are a number of NASCAR collectibles and clothing that bear the 3M brand.

3M biffle coffee cupCredit: Amazon3M Nascar hatCredit: Amazon

16 Greg Biffle photo



Greg Biffle Fan Reserved Parking SignCredit: Amazon


Action Racing Collectibles Greg Biffle '13 3M #16 Fusion, 1:64
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Dec 16, 2015)
An example of a 3M branded collectible car

3M Share Certificates

An interesting and unique gift for a 3M employee, supplier, or dedicated customer is a share of 3M stock.  These are easy to order as a gift. They come with annual reports, the right to attend 3M's annual general meeting in St Paul and dividend checks.

As a registered stockholder you can also join 3M's shareholder plan to reinvest dividends and buy additional shares without needing a stock broker.

3M share certificate collectibleCredit:

Other Corporate Collectible Articles of Interest

Flagscape Ball MarkerCredit: bank of america storeHome Depot LogoFord Motor Company Early LogoCredit: The Home Depot, Inc

General Electric (GE) LogoCredit: GE.comJohn Deere Logo(86171)Credit: John Deere

The Innovative Culture of 3M