WD-40® Brand Wrapped
WD-40® Brand Wrapped<< Back
2023 marks the 70th anniversary of WD-40® Multi-Use Product, the Original WD-40 Formula, honoring the persistence of scientists in 1953 to get the Job Done Right. After 40 attempts, a formula was born that would change the world. From simple beginnings in a small lab in San Diego, WD-40 Company evolved into a global legacy of solutions, reliability, and innovation. Let's take a nostalgic journey through the history of an iconic company, exploring its profound influence on the job, at home, and around the world.
Born from Rocket Science
The year was 1953, and a problem needed to be solved. Rockets in the Atlas Missile systems required protection against rust, and a coating of paint added too much weight. A team of scientists led by Norm Larsen set out to create a rust-prevention formula for aerospace technology. He struck gold on the 40th attempt – hence the name WD-40. Having other properties as a water-displacer, solvent, and lightweight lubricant, this concoction would become a household staple solving everyday problems far beyond the realm of aerospace.
From Rockets to Rusty Hinges
WD-40 Company's journey from rockets to garages across America was swift. Introduced to the consumer market in 1958, its uses expanded exponentially. What started as a rust preventative quickly became a go-to solution for squeaky hinges, stuck locks, stubborn bolts, and so much more. The distinctive blue and yellow can soon found its place in countless household and professional applications as it began to embody the spirit of DIY problem-solving.
A Global Phenomenon
As WD-40 Multi-Use Product's reputation for versatility and effectiveness grew, so did its global footprint. By the 1970s, it had emerged as an international phenomenon. People started to connect its unique fragrance with the possibility to fix just about anything. Positive, lasting memories formed between parents and children in garages and under the hoods of automobiles. The blue & red can became part of pop culture and earned global renown, even appearing multiple times on the TV show Jeopardy.
People around the world purchased cans and explored novel ways to use the versatile formula in their everyday lives. With the rise of the internet, some contributed their ideas to create a list of 2,000 uses (and climbing) for ways to solve problems of all kinds. The WD-40 Brand represented more than just a product – it became a symbol of ingenuity and resourcefulness.
Impactful Events Over the Decades
Over the years, WD-40 Multi-Use Product played a supporting role in events large and small, providing solutions when they were needed most. A few standouts include:
- Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster (1986): The product was used in recovery efforts after the Challenger disaster to displace water and prevent corrosion on recovered debris, aiding in the investigation.
- Desert Storm (1991): Returning to the defense sector, the formula gained military importance once again by protecting firearms from sand and moisture in the harsh desert conditions.
- Post-9/11 Cleanup (2001): In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, WD-40 Multi-Use Product was utilized by rescue workers to protect equipment during the cleanup operations at Ground Zero.
- Hurricane Katrina (2005): From preventing rust on tools to facilitating the operation of waterlogged machinery, the Original WD-40 Formula’s versatility shone in the face of adversity during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
More than Multi-Use:
As the years rolled by, WD-40 Company didn't rest on its laurels. It continued to innovate, introducing a line of new products tailored for specific needs. The launch of the WD-40 Specialist® Brand addressed challenges in sectors ranging from automotive to industrial, farming, construction, and other areas requiring targeted solutions for working professionals. WD-40 Specialist Bike products also helped deliver superior performance for competitive athletes and recreational riders.
In 2023, on the 70th anniversary year of the classic multi-use formula, the company hit new milestones by releasing two products that continue the evolution of the blue & yellow shield: WD-40 Specialist Degreaser and Cleaner EZ-Pods and the WD-40 Precision Pen.
WD-40 Specialist EZ-Pods offer the newest, easiest way to tackle cleaning both sensitive surfaces and tough messes. The compact and convenient pods allow for customizable solution strengths to meet on-the-go needs, winning “Best Cleaner” in the 2023 Popular Mechanics “Yard and Garden Awards.”
The WD-40 Precision Pen represents a small but powerful tool adding new possibilities for the legendary WD-40 Multi-Use formula. Intricate applications requiring accuracy and control are well within its wheelhouse, and the portability of the Precision Pen allows it to go places aerosol cans cannot. The Precision Pen proved to be another blue-ribbon product, winning "Best Lubricant" in the 2023 Popular Mechanics “Gear of the Year Awards.”
The Blue and Yellow Can's Enduring Legacy
The Original WD-40 Formula didn't just infiltrate workshops and garages; it became a cultural icon. References to it can be found in movies, TV shows, internet memes… it even has a dedicated music video, “WD-40 4WD” by Sean Stemaley. In January 2023, MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based art collective known for its stunts, released a cologne called “Smells Like WD-40” -- the blue bottle that looks like a sleeker version of the real product found in stores. Although some companies had sued MSCHF for similar infringements in the past, WD-40 Company remixed the ad instead. The engaging rebuttal turned “Eau de Industrie – fragrance done right” into “Can of Industrie – Smells like getting $#!% done right” and provided a light-hearted solution for the incident...MSCHF managed.
Synonymous with problem-solving, the phrase "WD-40 and duct tape can fix anything" entered common vernacular and the shield logo became one of the most recognizable brand symbols in the United States. WD-40 Company provides leadership in its commercial categories through a commitment to “Doing the Right Thing” and “Making It Better Than It is Today.” The company releases ESG Reports every 2 years, measuring its impact on Environmental, Social, and Governance issues. In its 70th year, the company also launched its first global campaign – “Repair It, Don’t Replace It” – centered around actions and solutions relating to sustainability.
The WD-40 Brand’s commitment to making a positive impact goes beyond products. It supports skilled-trade professionals with Techs & Trades programs and has involvement with other communities such as athletes, Olympians, veterans, and more. At the SEMA Show in Las Vegas – the premier automotive convention on the planet – the WD-40 Brand also shows up in force. The company creates “builds” for the convention such as this year’s 2023 Chase Truck and others in recent years including a 1951 Chevy 3100, a Ford Bronco, and a Chevy Camaro. After the custom builds are showcased at SEMA, the vehicles are donated to SEMA Cares and auctioned to support a charity dedicated to helping victims of child abuse.
The Future of the WD-40 Brand
As we celebrate 70 years of positive lasting memories, it's clear that the journey is far from over. The next chapter of problem-solving and innovation promises to be as exciting as the last. With a commitment to excellence and a global community of users who trust the brand, WD-40 Company is dedicated to providing superior performance products and delivering next-level solutions for generations to come. Cheers to the blue & yellow can with the little red top – the can that conquered challenges and made the world a little smoother, one spray at a time.