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Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for  Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, is the author of "The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career;" released by HOW Design Books in 2004. He can often be found preaching what he practices through speaking engagements at creative industry events around the country and writing for various design-related magazines and webzines. For more information about the designer's work click the link below.



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With each Creative Latitude update, Logo Notions will alternate essays on various aspects of logo design and multi-question interviews with industry professionals specializing in the creation of identity, from design icons to those working in the trenches. In addition, recent or new books, focusing on the design of logos, will be reviewed. Other books that may be helpful to designers in overcoming the challenges of identity design will also be recommended. – Jeff Fisher
These are a few of my favorite things – from the world of identity design.
By Jeff Fisher, Engineer of Creative Identity, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Can’t you almost hear Julie Andrew singing the classic Sound of Music favorite “These are a few of my favorite things?” As 2005 comes to an end we are bombarded by media lists of “favorites” and “bests” from newspapers, webzines, television shows and more. Why should “Logo Notions” be any different?

With Maria von Trapp bouncing around in my head I considered some of my favorites from the world of identity design. What is my favorite internationally recognized logo? What local business identity always grabs my attention and makes me say to myself “Damn, I wish that I had thought of that incredible concept!” What logo of my own is my favorite? And, if I had had the opportunity, what logo would I like to redesign in 2006 as a kind of graphic New Year’s resolution?

In addition to answering the questions myself, I decided to pose them to a few other design professionals whose identity design efforts have attracted my attention as I have flipped through my library of design books, browsed online portfolios or seen their work in person. Designer Cheryl Roder-Quill of angryporcupine*design in Park City UT, and Creative Latitude members Calvin Lee from Mayhem Studios and Gianluigi Tobanelli of Studio GT&P all agreed to provide their memories, thoughts and favorites for this column.

Catching the attention of future logo designers
As one of a generation that grew up watching too much television, I suppose the first logos making an impression on me personally were the famous “eye” for CBS television and the 1960’s animated peacock for competitor NBC. The CBS logo, considered one of the most recognizable symbols in the world was designed in 1951 by the networks Creative Director of Advertising and Sales Promotion William Golden and graphic artist Kurt Weiss.

The early identity memories of others vary.

Roder-Quill says, “Interestingly enough, I didn’t really pay much attention to logos when I was young. Well, I suppose I noticed logos, but there was never a moment that I can clearly remember thinking, ‘Hmmm, now I wonder who designed that logo?’ It wasn’t until I was in design school at Ohio State University that I really began to pay attention to logo design and designers.”

“I first discovered logo design when I was attending a local community college for commercial art,” according to Lee. “The course opened my eyes to the fact that designers actually designed all the logos that are out there.”

The logo that got his attention was the old Corbis logo, the stock photography company.

“I found it great as a mark. It was not super clean corporate looking logo. It had character, the varying stokes gave it a dynamic alive feeling to the design.” adds Lee.

“When I was 16 I read an Italian book on America’s greatest multinationals,” say Italian designer Tobanelli. “I found a chapter on Coca Cola logo which struck me very much and made me understand the importance of a great corporate identity.”

Favorite logos of large corporations
Today, if you were to ask me to name my favorite corporate identity I would have to say it is the great logo for TiVo. The logo is easily recognizable, and projects a great deal of fun and personality – qualities few major corporate logos are allowed to convey in an often-serious business world.

“I don’t think I have an ‘all-time favorite logo’ – yet,” Roder-Quill comments. “I like the Cingular logo.”

She adds, “The logo is fun, energetic (and orange! - which is one of my favorite colors) and has a lot of personality. It’s unique and stands out from the competition in the wireless-communications market.”

Lee’s all-time favorite logo is that of Apple.

“I may be biased since I am a Mac lover,” Lee says. “I really like how simple, clean and memorable the mark is - no matter what era. Apple manages to keep current, without changing the logo a lot.”

For Tobanelli, it’s the Nike swoosh, which he describes as “simple, memorable, distinctive, timeless.”

Favorites with a local perspective
One of the things I especially like about the books resulting from identity competitions around the world is the exposure of logo designs for businesses and organizations in smaller communities. On occasion I do find myself stopped in my tracks by the brilliant design of a logo for a business concern in my own local area. The identity for a business that is literally in my neighborhood is my favorite Portland design image. Sandstrom Design created the beautiful and classic image for Moonstruck Chocolates. I’ve always been a huge fan of Steve Sandstrom’s work. In college, nearly 30 years ago, he and I worked together on the staff of the Oregon Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon newspaper.

“Since Park City is a mountain resort town, most of the logos are comprised of mountains, canyons, moose, deer or trees (or a combination thereof),” according to Roder-Quill. “No one in particular really seems to stand out from the others, however the Promontory Ranch logo is nice, for its simplicity.”

Being in Los Angeles, Lee is surrounded by a lot of major national corporations. The one local identity that stands out for him is the Anaheim Angels logo. 

“Again, I like the simplicity and cleanness of the mark,” Lee says. “Adding the halo with a baseball diamond really ties everything together.”

“I’m fond of AirEurope (an Italian airline company) logo for color choice, the feather design, the use of Bodoni typeface and it’s style, energy, uniqueness,” say Tobanelli.

Picking favorites in one’s own work
Asking a designer to pick a favorite design from their own logo creation efforts is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. I know that I have many favorite designs for a variety of project-specific reasons. Still, I do suppose that my own logo, for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, is my all-time favorite design solutions – especially as I struggled over a ten-year period with the business name and the identity design. When it all came together, it was an “ah-ha” moment and the logo still serves me very well nearly nine years later.

“There are a handful of logos that I've designed over the years that I am especially proud of,” says Roder-Quill. “One in particular is a recently completed design - a logo for Cheryl Dailey, a professional makeup + hair artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

“I love the logo for its simplicity,” she adds. “The client had requested a logo that would be classic, yet hip and I used her initials to create the face, hair and bridge of the nose leading your eye down to the red heart/pursed lips.”

“I really enjoyed creating the logo for DownTown Entertainment, a black urban music company,” Mayhem Studio’s Lee says. “  It was a lot of fun working on the concepts; it basically designed itself.”

According to Lee, he had a great deal of creative freedom on the project. The only specific request was that some historical building landmarks be included in the logo.

“Among my own logos I prefer the Tessuti di Montefalco logo. The reason is quite trivial,” says designer Tobanelli. “I am often very critical with my work, looking at every logo I have designed I see many defects on it, but always I look at Tessuti di Montefalco logo with pleasure.”

I must admit, I concur with Tobanelli’s selection of his favorite design. While on vacations and business trips around the world I often collect printed materials with logos I admire – or I’ll take digital photos of logos/signage that catches my eye. I returned from my last trip to Italy with examples of his Tessuti di Montefalco logo.

A designer wish list
We’ve all come across logo designs that we personally feel could use an “extreme makeover.” In fact, with the unveiling of recent redesigns of classic or familiar logos, such as UPS, British Petroleum, Quark, AT&T, Sprint/Nextel and others, I know many designers feel they could have done a better job – or the client would have been better off with the original design intact. “Creative types do have strong opinions.”

Given the opportunity I would really like to redesign the Hilton Hotel corporate identity. I miss the classic logo I came to know as a kid – when the brand projected an image of a high-class hotel chain. It may be that the fairly recent redesign is so visible as I travel from city to city, but it has bugged the hell out of me since it was unveiled. The logo seemed dated from the date it appeared. The “swoosh-like” element of the “H” letterform takes me immediately to the time of the dot-doom “swoosh” logo mania of a few years ago.

The Verizon logo would be the choice of angryporcupine’s Roder-Quill.

“Every time I see it, I cringe!” she exclaims.

Calvin Lee would redo the newest Bank of America Logo, as he thought the old logo with the integrated “B” and “A” letterforms was “really cool.” He feels the flag imagery of the current identity is a design cliché.

“I really liked the original logo,” says Lee. “The new logo does not say much about Bank of American and isn’t memorable or say much about Bank of America - my first thoughts were this was a totally different company.”

Tobanelli sums his feelings up very simply with, “Which Italian graphic designer would not like to make-over the Ferrari logo?”

Take a good look at the logos around you on an international corporate level, and those identifying businesses closer to home. Conduct a review of the identities in your own portfolio. Research the hits and misses of very public corporation logo redesigns. Consider how you might improve that identity that you feel needs a good makeover. In selecting a few of your “favorite things” you will find challenges and inspiration for your future logo design efforts.


Calvin Lee - Mayhem Studios

Cheryl Roder-Quill - angryporcupine*design

Gianluigi Tobanelli - Studio GT&P

Design book reviews:

Letterhead & Logo Design 9, by Christopher Simmons/MINE
Hardback: 240 pages
Publisher: Rockport Publishers
ISBN: 1592531822

Rockport Publishers continues their long-running design book series with Letterhead & Logo Design 9, this volume by Christopher Simmons and his San Francisco design firm MINE. The designs presented in the book were selected from over 3000 submissions from identity designers in 38 states and 40 countries. With a new spin on the publication series, the nearly 300 examples of logos, stationery packages, and other promotional items presented in this volume are organized by attributes, rather than the usual categorization by industry or type of client. The selection of designs exhibited was based on beauty, wit and whimsy, simplicity, subtlety, virtuosity, typography, materiality and miscellany. The latest, and freshest, addition to the on-going Rockport collection will elicit many “damn, why didn’t I think of that?” thoughts and provide a great deal of inspiration to any graphic designer with even the slightest interest in logo design. Simmons is having a banner publishing year, having released the book Logo Lab earlier in 2005. “Logo Notions” also did a profile on the designer earlier this year with the title “What a ‘little birdy’ told me about identity design”

Graphic Design Portfolio Builder: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator Projects, from
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Peachpit Press
ISBN: 0321336585

From online school of design comes Graphic Design Portfolio Builder: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator Projects, an excellent resource for the newbie designer – and a great refresher course for those who have been in the profession a bit longer. Filled with tips and exercises, the book - developed by the instructors of - offers great fundamentals for any designer wishing to hone their design skills. The writers do assume the reader has some basic knowledge and experience in the Photoshop and Illustrator software programs, but do explain the various topics and lessons clearly and with a lot of detail. After a basic “Intro to Graphic Design” chapter, the book is broken down into sections such as “Photoshop Essentials,” “Illustrator Essentials,” “Digital Illustration,” “Poster Design,” “Packaging Design” and more. The “Logo Design” chapter is a very good primer of principles, project examples and execution suggestions for those interested in the creation of identities. For some, the title may be a bit deceiving. While putting together an actual portfolio is briefly covered, the volume is much more about assisting the designer in producing the best quality project work for presentation when that portfolio is needed in applying for a job or meeting with a potential client. The book would be a valuable addition to the library of any design student or seasoned professional.

Robin Williams Design Workshop, by Robin Williams and John Tollett
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Peachpit Press
ISBN: 0201700883

The tone of the book Robin Williams Design Workshop makes the reader feel as if they are having a conversation about graphic design with old friends or a favorite design instructor from the past. With the authors having also written The Non-Designer’s Design Book, The Non-Designer’s Web Book and others, that sense of familiarity is well founded. In the introduction it is written that this is a book for “mere-mortal” designers – meaning “aspiring designers who are in the process of developing their skills and getting experience; designers who are not famous (yet); and designers who are looking for design books to add to their collection, books that will give them some insight into the design process.” Williams and Tollett do not disappoint those readers. Through colorful and detailed examples, designers are taken through the thought and creation process of a variety of projects including logos, ads, web sites, newsletters, brochures and more. In the section “Designers & the Design Process” the reader is shown the processes and work styles of six different designers as they create a book cover, logo and identity packages, promotional materials, an office space, web sites, student project assignments, typography and collateral materials. This latest offering from “old friends” is a fun and valuable design resource.

Type in Motion 2
, by Mark Woolman
Hardback: 176 pages
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Inc.
ISBN: 0500512434

Type in Motion 2 is the follow-up to Mark Woolman’s original Type in Motion, the first book to present an overview of animated digital typography when it was published over six years ago. In this volume over 80 projects, from the most advanced studios around the world, are presented in a beautiful book bordering on sensory overload. Over 1300 images of animated typographic images from the Internet, film and television almost come jumping off the pages at the reader. With the sections “Identifying,” “Informing,” “Storytelling,” “Traveling” and “Speculating,” the author exhibits numerous projects specific to those topics – frame by frame in most cases – and explains what was needed by the client, the concept to be produced, the process of creation, and the end result. For a designer like myself, specializing in static graphic imagery, Type in Motion 2 is a great lesson in considering the option of potential movement in an image being creating, how that motion might be executed, what movements could be applied, and how the final imagery will impact the communication of the client’s message. Those with experience in motion graphics, or desiring a career in the field, will find many examples of challenging concepts, incredible design solutions, and inspiring “eye-candy” in this book of innovative work.

Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, has received over 475 regional, national and international graphic design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work is featured in more than 75 publications on the design of logos, the business of graphic design, and small business marketing. He shares his observations about the design industry on his blog, bLog-oMotives.

Fisher is a member of the HOW Magazine Editorial Advisory Board and is also on the 2006 HOW Design Conference Advisory Council. His own book, “The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success,” was released by HOW Design Books in late 2004. An excerpt from the book may be found at More information about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives is available at

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