Logodotes: Al Bauer Advertising

[Over the 30+ years I've worked professionally as a designer, interesting side stories have come up about my identity designs. This is one of an ongoing series of "Logodotes" - anecdotes about my logo designs.]

In 1980, my first year out of college, ad agency owner Al Bauer asked me to design a logo to identify his firm. Bauer had been toying with the idea of using an abstract image to represent the company. In fact, he'd even considered making use of an abstract painting created by his daughter, artist Marlene Bauer. The pre-digital printing expense of reproducing a four-color image led to the client quickly changing his mind about the possibility.

The initial concept (above left) evolved out of my interest in the minimalist logo imagery I studied in school during the 1970's. Many logos of the time were simple, somewhat heavy, and involved geometric forms. The client almost immediately selected this particular design. I was told that he appreciated its abstract representation of how advertising was often a very orderly discipline - until something went completely out of whack.

A couple of weeks later an excited Bauer called me, having just realized the design was in actuality very abstract lower-case a and b letterforms (visually defined above right).

© 2010 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

1 comment:

Jon said...

I love this story, and have a similar one to share.

My first year out of art school I designed a logo for a company called Certified Alarm Technology, a name chosen specifically for the ability to abbreviate it as CAT. The client, of course, asked to see logos that exploited that abbreviation by featuring illustrations of jungle cats, panthers specifically.

In addition to several that depicted cats or parts of their anatomy, I designed a far more abstract one that uses the C and AT to form the shape of a padlock laying on its side.

The client, thankfully, was really attracted to the padlock design, and chose it immediately, no revision necessary. He then proceeded to hire us to design the support materials for his new identity.

90 DAYS LATER He calls, very excited. At first we can't tell if he's excited or angry. It was very alarming. Nobody had any idea what was going on. I don't remember his exact words, but the general gist was, "Oh my God. I just realized this logo is a f***ing padlock! Did you do that on purpose? You're a f***ing genius!"

I frequently tell this story as an example to new clients that, although it's often difficult to express why things appeal to us, especially if they're not the thing we think we want (or asked for), it's important to be open to that impulse.