Re-Design: Smith Freed

In the case of the Portland law firm commonly known as Smith Freed, the old logo - for what was then the company name Smith Freed Heald & Chock – was actually a new identity that had been approved and implemented by the company. There was one serious problem. The letters representing the names did not really read in the order they should, due to awkward placement in the design. The dimensional shading of the letters also presented reproduction issues in some applications. Prior to dedicating money for a cast bronze lobby sign the partners in the firm decided to have the logo redesigned.

Ampersands are always odd design elements in “alphabet soup” company identities representing a number of named partners. It was decided to eliminate the symbol completely and just include the initials of the partners in a simple logo. To keep the costs of reproducing all printed materials to a minimum the logo was limited to a one-color treatment at the time. I always liked the "happy accident" of the interesting shape in the design, where all the letterforms came together.

A change in the name of the firm, to Smith Freed Chock & Eberhard, required that the logo be changed to incorporate the acronym SFCE. A new two-color palette was introduced to set the image apart from the previous incarnation.

Yet another name change a short time later resulted in additional alterations to the logo – and the reintroduction of the ampersand. Even with the second and third name, and logo, changes the public image of Smith Freed remained somewhat constant.

The redesign process of the logo appears in the book Logos Redesigned: How 200 Companies Successfully Changed Their Image by David E. Carter.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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