Inspiration, imitation or innovation - how do designers create unique identities?

In September of this year, with great public relations fanfare, the software company Quark introduced their new corporate identity. In presenting the new image, Quark corporate communications director Glen Turpin touted it as a “fresh, inviting and open” symbol representing a “q” letterform. My first thought upon seeing the image was - that's not a "q," that's a lower-case "a." The second impression I had of the "fresh, inviting and open" symbol was - I've previously seen that image elsewhere. I was not alone. Designers from around the world began posting similar logos from a variety of companies and organizations.

The rollout of the new Quark image resulted in some praise as well. Editor in Chief Terri Stone wrote a column about the identity, ending it with "Brand beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but to my eye, Quark's new identity system is a winner. I applaud the company for pulling it off." Not being one to keep my mouth shut, or my keyboard still, I sent an email off to Stone expressing my feeling about the new symbol not being as "fresh" as touted. That email led to me being interviewed for Gene Gable's followup article, Sometimes a Logo is Just a Logo.

When questioned for the piece, I mentioned David E. Carter's book, Bullet-Proof Logos: Creating Great Designs Which Avoid Legal Problems as a great resource for any identity designer wanting to create an original logo. Wanting to expand on the issue a bit, I wrote about the topic for the November update of Logo Notions on the site Creative Latitude. While researching the article, Carter, John Wingard of John Wingard Design, and Tim Frame of Tim Frame Design were all kind enough to provide some input.

The "Logo Notions" article also gave me the opportunity to feature my logo for the Seattle restaurant Glo's Broiler, which is included in "Bullet-Proof Logos." I've always taken great pleasure in the fact that, in designing the logo, I placed the coffee cup and plate imagery in a manner that creates a subliminal lower-case "g" as a secondary identifying icon for the eating establishment. It was one of those "happy accidents" in design that help make an identity unique. The namesake and former owner of the restaurant, Glo Raineri - who I've always called my "second Mom" - recently passed away. The restaurant and the logo live on as part of her legacy.

© 2005 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives


jason holland said...

hey j,

i remember you talking about this the last time you were in seattle. did you ever hear back from Stone?

Jeff Fisher LogoMotives said...

Hi Jason. Yes, she got back to me and was responsible for the "Sometimes a Logo is Just a Logo" article being written with me as a resource. I edited my blog to make that a bit more clear. Thanks!