Toot! Toot!*:
Jeff Fisher interview featured on FreelanceSwitch

An interview with designer and author Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the Portland firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, is currently featured on the web presence FreelanceSwitch. In the piece, "Veteran Designer Embraces Identity Crisis and Casual Fridays," written by Kristen Fischer, the designer discusses his 30-year career and recently released book Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands.

FreelanceSwitch is an online resource for all independent creatives, offering advice, articles, podcasts, a job board, and a community forum for designers, writers, illustrators, photographers, web developers and others.

Kristen Fischer, an independent copywriter and editor, is also the author of the book Creatively Self-Employed, in which designer Fisher was featured.

Jeff Fisher has received nearly 575 regional, national and international graphic design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work is featured in nearly 100 books on the design of logos, the business of graphic design, and small business marketing.

Fisher is a member of the HOW Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, the HOW Design Conference Advisory Council and the UCDA Designer Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. His first book, The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success, was released in 2004 by HOW Books, also the publisher of Identity Crisis!.

(* If I don’t "toot!" my own horn, no one else will.)

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

What were they stinking?

The other day the last of my holiday online shopping arrived from I was thrilled that the box was delivered with time to spare before our scheduled Christmas Eve gift exchange, as it had been difficult to find one of the items enclosed.

I opened the box and was immediately hit with a good dose of a strong sweet cinnamon apple scent. My eyes, skin and nose reacted instantly to whatever was in the package. I know that a friend of mine, experiencing the same situation, would have reacted so strongly a hospital visit would have been necessary.

Over the years I have developed increasing strong allergic reactions to scents. When going to department stores I need to plan a route around the perfume counters and I always avoid candle or potpourri retailers. Magazines that arrive with scent samples pages must have the offending pages removed, and the publications aired out for several days, before I can read the issue. I'm even allergic to the scent of the ink used to print The New York Times - but still read it; scrubbing myself down afterwards as if I am going into a sterile surgical procedure. I have a limited selection of laundry detergents, bath soaps and deodorants I am able to use without reactions. When we have dinners, or parties, at our home we remind guests that these are "fragrance free" events. These are all situations I have learned to be prepared for in advance over time.

I was not prepared for an unexpected Glade scent promotional bookmark to be shipped in my package of purchases from Amazon. The congestion in my nose, constriction in my throat, headache and itchy skin were not in my plans for the day.

The little protective "condom" over the scent patch on the bookmark appeared to have been partially removed in shipping, causing the box to fill with the gaggy odor.

Far from being "A Little Holiday Joy," the advertising insert was a major annoyance and health issue. One the back side of the bookmark was the text "We'd love your opinion" - and both Glade and Amazon got mine.

I went to the Glade website and filled out the survey sharing my feelings. I also wrote to customer service at Amazon to explain the situation and suggest that they consider other methods of dealing with such promotional efforts in their packaging. From Amazon I got the following response:

I'm sorry for the problem you faced with the promotion we sent to you. I hope your health is fine now. Thank you for suggesting that we don't send promotions which may lead to customer health problems. Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve the selection and service we provide. I appreciate your thoughts and I will be sure to forward your suggestion to the concerned department. Rest assured that we won't be sending such type of promotions to you.

(To scan the promotion I had to handle it with gloves and be careful to not inhale while it was out in the open.)

What were Amazon and Glade thinking? I guess I'm surprised that a scented promotion would be sent in such a manner in the first place. It might have been wise to have it sealed in a secondary plastic bag - rather than loose in the box. I can't be the only person negatively impacted by the smelly promotion. Several days later my body is still a bit tweaky following a chain of allergic events started by the scented bookmark. Possible reactions like mine need to be a consideration when planning similar marketing or advertising pieces.

Update - 12.30.07: As Mark commented below there is always the danger of a "magazine ambush" in regards to scent. On Saturday the new Bon Appetit magazine arrived in my mailbox - with a scent page for Calvin Klein's Eternity fragrance. Huh? One of the most offensive colognes is always the first thing I think of when it comes to fine cooking. The magazine is banished from my reading materials until it airs out.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Happy holidays...

...from my "au natural" designer gingerbread cookies to yours...

Best wishes for the holiday season and the new year!

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

DesignerToday reviews Identity Crisis!

Online magazine DesignerToday has posted a review of Identity Crisis: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands. The complete critique, by designer and writer Jake Van Ness, may be read on the DesignerToday site. Van Ness sums up his comments with:

This book is a wonderful source of inspiration and I think it is a must have for any designer interested or currently working in the field of identity design.

DesignerToday has been providing industry professionals the most current design news, product reviews, related articles, tutorials by subscription and more, for nearly a decade.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

The high cost of saving money on your business image

Not too long ago a potential identity design client requested information about the estimated cost of creating a logo to represent a new start-up business. The business was about to be launched and the identity creation costs had not been considered in the business plan budget.

I wasn't surprised when, after receiving the information, the business owner contacted me to explain that the price range quoted was much higher than anticipated and that they would most likely consider branding the company with a logo design that was "adequate" at the present time. It was explained that they later hoped to hire me to redesign the corporate image to better reflect their desires for the public persona of the business?


In nearly 30 years as a professional designer I often hear this justification for initially scrimping on one of the most important advertising, marketing and promotion elements for any business. Many new business owners simply do not plan for the possible costs involved in the creation of the image with which their business or product will be introduced to the target market.

In cutting corners, such business owners are seldom saving any money. In fact, much greater business identity costs over time are usually the result. When "settling" for a less than adequate logo design, the costs of stationery packages, storefront and vehicle signage, print advertising and other promotional items are still incurred. Being less than satisfied with the early graphic image of the business often means that all of those expenses will be duplicated until the owner has achieved the desired end result through a series of re-designs.

A client once came to me after having a business identity re-designed five times in five years. The owner admitted to "settling" for a new logo each year due to an impending print or advertising deadline reminding him of the lack of satisfaction with the image being used at the time. Each new identity effort was rushed;, and then required the reproduction of every piece of material used to market and promote the business. Over five years the process had become a very costly endeavor.

The business owner finally budgeted time and money for hiring a professional designer to create a logo to properly represent the firm in question. As a designer specializing in identity design, I researched the business's target market, local competition and specialized industry before even starting the design process. Several logo concepts were presented to the client and, within a few weeks, the company had a new and improved identity. In this case, the logo was used successfully for a period of 10 years - until the business was purchased by a larger industry entity.

When entering into the process of starting a new business, or revamping the identity of an existing company, the business owner needs to do their research and budget adequate time and funds for the project. This is a "must" when creating an initial business plan. The spur of the moment decisions to go with a discount online logo design resource may not provide the knowledge, expertise, and unique end result that will best suit one's business. The successful branding of a business most often requires much more than slapping a clip art image up next to a type treatment of the business name as a last-minute solution. Instead, the businessperson should research a variety of designers, or design firms, to find a good match of talent, skill and understanding of the business's very specific needs, before embarking on the process of establishing a strong business identity.

In my new book, Identity Crisis! 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands (HOW Books, October 2007), Robynne Raye, of the Modern Dog Design Company in Seattle, suggests the business owner "find a designer you can trust, and then trust them."

An identity design process that is well planned, realistically budgeted early on, researched thoroughly, and utilizes the services of a professional designer with a proven track record of collaborative efforts, may initially be a bit more expensive than originally expected. However, the realistic investment in the image, and future success, of one's business will be more than worth the cost when done right the first time.

This bLog-oMotives entry originally appeared on my "Designs on Business" blog at

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

HOW Magazine releases 2007 digital archive

The latest news from the HOW Blog is the upcoming December 17th release of the digital archive of all 2007 HOW Magazine issues. The searchable DVD includes a full year's worth of ideas, information and inspiration about staying creative, running a successful design business, surviving in-house and managing your design career, and the 300+ winning entries in the 2007 HOW design awards.

The digital HOW archive retails for $39.96, but may currently be pre-ordered for $29.96.

Maybe such digital archives will help me with my design magazine storage issues. I've got issues of HOW Magazine going back years. It will be nice to have a digital record of the 2007 issues in which Jeff Fisher LogoMotives was featured ( August and December).

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Look who's making news in our household

I've got to admit, when it comes to media coverage in our household, my other half of 17.5 years - Ed Cunningham - usually stays out of the limelight while doing an incredible job as Business Manager in the Portland office of the nationwide law firm Holland & Knight. I'm usually the one being interviewed by some magazine or having my photo taken for a newspaper. So much so that Ed usually refers to me as the "media ho."

However, yesterday was his turn - and I couldn't be prouder and happier for him. Just Out, the statewide newsmagazine for the GLBT community, published an article about the fact that Holland & Knight was recently honored by the Human Rights Campaign with a perfect score of 100 points in its annual Corporate Equity Index. The law firm was recognized for its actions and policies toward sexual minority employees, as well as consumers and investors, making it one of the "best places to work for GLBT equality" in the nation. Just Out writer Teresa Coates interviewed Ed about the recognition.

At a local level, Ed has played an active role in promoting diversity within the Portland office. In fact, he was recently honored as the inaugural recipient of Portland office's Diversity Supporter of the Year Award and was honored by the Native American Youth and Family Center last year. Ed has been a member of the local office diversity committee, initiated a Native Youth Internship Program, and is surrounded by little kids each month through the office adoption of a Head Start program class. I'm thrilled that he's getting a public "pat on the back" for his efforts - although that's not why he does any of the community work.

More than anything else, I have always appreciated the support that Ed has given me in my design work, writing and other activities. For 17.5 years he's been an equal partner in the public and private efforts of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Design studio housecleaning - excavated artifact #16

In the late 1980's, while living in Seattle, I shared offices with several entities that were clients, or later became clients. The Seattle Men's Chorus, the Pride Foundation, City Guide Magazine and Alice B. Theatre were the other tenants in the combined space in what was an energetic, creative and fun working environment.

Alice B. Theatre was founded in 1984 in conjunction with the first Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival in Seattle. The theatre company name is a reference to Alice B. Toklas - the confidante, lover, cook, secretary, muse, editor, critic, and general organizer of writer Gertrude Stein. In 1933 Stein published her memoirs under the title The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Toklas released her own book, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, in 1954. A memoir containing a collection of recipes, it is probably best known for its instructions on making cannabis brownies (which later played a role in the plot of the 1968 Peter Sellers movie I Love You, Alice B. Toklas). In old photos Toklas is often seen wearing a big floppy hat.

My workspace next door neighbor, Alice B. Theatre, made use of my design services in creating print ads, flyers, posters and other items for the live theatre performances presented in the local community. The one thing the group was lacking was a strong graphic identity. At some point I suggested to the organization's director that it might be worthwhile to put some time and energy into creating a logo for the group.

As my present day office cleaning attests, I began doodling my ideas for the image on just about any paper surface I came across. The first was a a pencil sketch on a page from a memo pad given to me from a printer in Lynnwood, WA. On a scrap torn off a yellow, lined legal notepad was another rough concept done in a think black felt pen. Yet another idea was executed in India ink on a piece of tracing paper. (Yes, I've saved these things for two decades!)

Each concept included a reference to the floppy hat once worn by Alice B. Toklas. Another common element was at least one evident triangle shape, creating a bow, as a symbolic tip of the hat to the primarily gay and lesbian target audience of the performing arts group. The font University Roman, which had been used on some previous theatre marketing and promotion materials, was the typeface given the most consideration throughout the process.

As I fine-tuned the concept from the legal tablet I decided the logo was a bit too flat, long and skinny. I felt as if the hat needed more weight and presence in the identity. The treatment of the font related back to my earliest doodle on the printing company memo sheet.

I've always liked the final logo design and the image it conveyed for the the theatre company. Unfortunately, I moved back to Portland before any kind of full-fledged branding effort could be introduced. According to documentation in the Special Collections of the University of Washington Libraries, Alice B. Theatre disbanded in the spring of 1996 and reorganized as Alice B. Arts in September 1996. It then ceased operations completely in 1997.

In reviewing the 20-year-old logo today, I might have designed one portion of the image differently. The big and small caps, used in the organization name, may have been replaced with the cleaner, more simple, all caps treatment displayed in the concept making use of the long, thin hat graphic. It always bugged me that the tagline was broken into two elements in my final design. It would have been read much more easily as one complete line under the Alice B. Theater name.

Other projects excavated as I have gone through boxes and files in my archives can be found in past bLog-oMotives entries.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

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