Making a logo design your own

The process of creating truly unique identities involves so much more than just slapping a graphic, or icon, up next to a block of text or a word. With the vast majority of my logo designs I try to envision a graphic element, appropriate to the message to be conveyed in the design, as a possible letterform representation within the name. Combining the two often results in an incredibly individual and memorable symbol to identify the client.

Following my attendance at Clown School in the spring of 2009, and a great experience as part of the Amtrak Cascades Character Clown Corps for the Portland Rose Festival, my clown pal Pippa (aka educator Debra Samuel) suggested that those interested in clowning around a bit more participate in the 2009 Portland Pride Parade. As the event was not an official Rose Festival event we would need to march under a new clown troupe moniker. Pippa came up with the name "Stumptown Clowns."

In my odd logo designer mind, as soon as I was made aware of the name, I literally saw the words visually as a potential clown face. The "U" letterform in the word "Stumptown" could become a winking eye, with the "O" in the term creating another eye that was wide open. It only made sense that the "O" in "Clown" would become a big red clown nose. With the suggestion that the Stumptown Clowns needed an identifying sign for the parade, the logo design became a reality.

The typeface Blue Plate Special, from Nick's Fonts, gave the design the circus/carnival quality I desired.

The Sentinel is not your ordinary neighborhood newspaper, and publisher Cornelius Swart did not want your everyday newspaper identity when it came time to rebrand the publication. Swart and his staff narrowed my initial type selection presentations to Boca Raton Solid and Rockwell Extra Bold treatments. They liked the "sexiness" of Boca Raton, but thought it might be a little too "magazine-like." Those providing input felt that Rockwell conveyed the "seriousness" needed for a newspaper, but the uppercase "S" letterform was too heavy, "clunky" and distracting. I was asked to finesse - or change - the "S" in the Rockwell treatment, to tweak the eye imagery, and play with "i" letterform a bit to make it possibly more lighthouse or "sentinel-like."

In literally going back to the drawing table, I worked on the "S" element for quite some time. I kept returning to the fact that everyone involved liked the "S" letterform from the Boca Raton font a great deal. In what was a bit of an "a-ha" moment I simply took the "S" from Boca Raton and dropped it in front of the Rockwell treatment of the remaining letters in the word "Sentinel." It seemed to work beautifully - and the newspaper crew agreed.

With a little finessing of the implied lighthouse image, and it's "every vigilant" eye, the paper had a strong and unique identity. The design appears in the book American Graphic Design & Advertising 25

When approached by the publishing business Buttonberry Books to create a fun identity, I took the challenge literally. As is often the case, I immediately saw the visuals of a berry and buttons taking shape as graphic elements within the design to represent the company. The type Carnation, from Fonthead Designs, added the element of playfulness.

The Buttonberry Books identity appears in the books New Logo World (Japan), Logo Design for Small Business 2, and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

The Central Oregon town of Sisters, where my family's had a home for over 30 years, has hosted the annual Sisters Rodeo for over over six decades. It was an honor to be asked to design the event's first official logo for the 60th anniversary and I wanted to create an image that could be perceived as possibly being the identity since the 1940's.

From the beginning of the project I had no doubt the symbol representing this live-action piece of Western Americana would end up being red, white and blue in color. The flags, banners, music and patriotism associated with the rodeo immediately dictated that color palette. I also knew that I wanted a cowboy on a bucking bronco, or bull, as the primary element. Having seen many a cowboy hat fly through the air at previous rodeos, I felt graphically representing the hat would add a little implied movement - and my own little brand of humor - to the logo. The cowboy graphic fit well into the "O" of an original concept scribble, and the airborne cowboy hat became the dot of the "i" letterform in the word "Sisters," as the symbol almost designed itself.

Horndon gave the image the typographic period feel I was seeking. Customizing type elements, around the "O" shape and on the descender of the "R," added to making a one-of-a-kind logo.

This identity was included when the Sisters Rodeo was inducted into the Library of Congress “Local Legacies" archive. The rodeo logo received an Award of Merit in the Central Oregon Drake Awards and a Silver in the Summit Creative Awards. It also is featured in The Big Book of Logos 3, LogoLounge - Volume 1 and Design for Special Events

One of my personal favorites has always been the logo I designed for the Seattle breakfast establishment Glo's Broiler. It's a good example of a well thought out concept coming together with a "happy accident" to produce a strong identifying image. In designing the logo, I knew I wanted a coffee cup and plate to represent the "o" letterforms in the name. Then, as I rotated the coffee cup illustration a bit, a lower-case "g" appeared within the design.

The same treatment then worked in a secondary image for the restaurant. The owner wanted to have a complimentary logo to represent the athletic teams the eatery sponsored and the "Glo's Boys" imagery was the second "happy accident" in the branding process.

The Glo's Broiler image appears in the books Bullet-Proof Logos, Logo Design for Small Business 2, the Japanese volume New Logo and Trademark Design (which was recently re-released as the paperback Logo and Trademark Collection) and 1000 Restaurant, Bar, and Cafe Graphics.

While archiving logo design work I have done over the past 30 years, I've been coming across many other projects where I have used graphic elements as substitutes for letterforms with a variety of results. One of the earliest successes was the logo design for hairstylist Jeff Maul. By just taking the time to look at hair-cutting scissors in a different way, I was able to see possible letter shapes in the holes used for fingers.

The St. Johns Window Project is a local event where North Portland artists are asked to create works of art to be displayed in the windows of area businesses. When asked to create a logo for the annual event, I immediately visualized window frames as replacements for letters in the name - before the organization's contact could even finish explaining what they hoped for in an identity. The effort received a 2003 American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design: usa magazine.

Personal chef and caterer Jim Crabtree wanted a simple and distinctive identity for his business. In researching catering logo images, I kept coming across graphic representations of dinner plates, waiters, picnic baskets, fruits and vegetables, serving trays, bottles of wine, and other fairly common items. None of the examples gave me the impression of being unique to the industry. Jim himself was one of the most unique aspects of his business - with his spiky hair and angular features. That's when I realized a "W," the first letter in his company name, could easily be adapted to represent a portion of a man's body. The final design resulted in many of the owner's friends and clients saying "it looks just like him."

The "What's For Dinner?" logo is also featured in the Logo Design for Small Business 2, New Logo and Trademark Design and Logo and Trademark Collection.

One fairly recent example of replacing type with graphic elements is the identity I created for a friend's startup interior design business, NoBox Design. In explaining her plans for the business, the friend told me that the name referred to the fact she didn't want clients thinking "out of the box;" she wanted them to realize that there was "no box" when it came to conceptulizing interior spaces. I immediately thought of round forms, especially the rounded shapes of a 1980's Donghia chair. Back in 1984 I produced a set of two silkscreen prints making use of a Donghia-like over-stuffed chair - one of my favorite furniture shapes. (The prints were sold in Portland galleries and made an appearance as set decoration on the soap Days of Our Lives.)

The two "O" letterforms in the word "NoBox" were prefectly placed to become the round arms of the chair illustration. With my friend's first name beginning with the letter "B," I felt a stylized graphic representation of a monogrammed throw, of blanket, made an appropriate centerpiece in the design.

This past year the NoBox Design logo was recognized with a 2006 American Corporate Identity Award and it appears in the book American Corporate Identity 2007.

The identity for Black Dog Furniture Design is one of my favorite logo projects. Brett Bigham, commonly known as my "evil devil pig friend from hell," provided me with a piece of paper covered with a collection of puppy footprint drawings and sketches of his little black dog, Adobo. He wanted me to create an identity for his startup furniture business of creating new pieces from found objects and old furniture. The font Very Merry, from Fonthead Design, was my first choice to compliment the primative quality of the dog illustration. For me, replacing the letter "o" with the tail "wag marks" was a natural consideration in making the logo unusual.

From the perspective of being recognized in the design industry, the Black Dog Furniture Design logo has been one of my most successful. The logo appears in the books The Big Book of Logos 3, Letterhead and Logo Design 7, Graphically Speaking, American Corporate Identity 2003, Global Corporate Identity, PRINT's Regional Design Annual, Logo Design for Small Business 2,LogoLounge Master Library, Volume 2:
3000 Animal and Mythology Logos
and Graphis Logo 6. It also received an American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design: usa magazine.

Over the past 16 years I've designed over 100 logos for the triangle productions! theatre company in Portland. Many have involved combining graphics and type to produce a concise and unique graphic symbol. Creating the logo for the theatrical production The Dream State was such a case. In playing with the shape of the letters on my computer screen I saw that star shapes would work to replace the "A" letterforms in the words "dream" and "state." I tried a couple different fonts in making the image light and playful; settling on Circus Dog, also from Fonthead. The crescent moon image was added as an afterthought to give the logo some balance.

The Dream State identity was also recognized with an American Graphic Design Award. It is featured in the book The Big Book of Logos 4 and the Spanish volume Logos from North to South America.

Principal Mike Verbout asked me to create a logo the James John Elementary School in a effort to boost student and community pride in the institution. He'd recently had some colorful flags installed on the school structure and hoped that I could include that imagery in the design. The school is located near the historic St. Johns Bridge, a major landmark in the Portland area. In my mind I saw one of the towers from the bridge replacing the "H" in the school's name - and banners could be attached to the spires of the bridge image. The result was a design appealing to children and adults, and an image that worked well on signage, T-shirts and other promotional items.

The James John School identity was honored with an American Graphic Design Award and a Silver in the Summit Creative Awards. The logo also appears in the books The New Big Book of Logos and Logos from North to South America..

By stepping back from logo design projects, and looking at possible graphic elements as potential letterform shapes, a designer can put their personal stamp on a creative identity concept.

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Event Logos

(CLockwise from left)

Seacoast AIDS Walk
Client: AIDS Response - Seacoast
Location: Portsmouth, NH USA

AIDS Response - Seacoast asked me to design a logo that could be used annually for their AIDS fundraising walk. The identity is featured in The Big Book of New Design Ideas, 100's Visual Logos and Letterheads and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

Central Oregon Air Show
Client: Central Oregon Air Show/TriAd
Location: Bend, OR USA

This 1995 design was created to identify the then annual air show in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains. The only request from the client was that the design be red, white and blue. The design appears in the book Graphically Speaking.

Equality • Pride • Justice
Client: Pride Northwest
Location: Portland, OR USA

This image was created to represent all of the annual Pride events for Portland's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. The logo appears in New Logo & Trademark Design (Japan) and The New Big Book of Logos.

North Portland Pride BBQ and Festival
Client: University Park United Methodist Church

The image was used as the identifying logo and poster for the North Portland Pride BBQ and Festival, a gay/lesbian community event sponsored by the University Park United Methodist Church. It won an American Corporate Identity 23 award and will also appear in The Big Book of Logos 5.

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

Designs on dining: Restaurant logos as a graphic invitation to a meal and an experience

Over the years some of my own most enjoyable, challenging and visible identity design projects have been those for restaurant industry businesses. Much of the pleasure comes from an ability to push the creative envelope a bit and not be limited by the often-conservative boundaries of much more corporate identity design. I usually have an opportunity to be more playful with restaurant logos and have more fun with color. In addition, the architecture of the buildings, the design of the interiors, the type of food to be served and other elements come into play. The challenges of such projects most often raise their ugly heads in the form of budget limitations and the lateness of some restaurant owners to initiate the logo/identity design process for their new business in a timely manner – especially when the scheduling of projects for other vendors are overlooked. The visibility, and multiple uses, of the completed eating establishment image is a valuable marketing tool for a designer as easily recognizable public exposure of one’s design work. Unfortunately, with something like 50% of all restaurants closing in the first two to three years in business the visibility of such design examples often is limited in duration. (That figure is not necessarily more dramatic than the failure rate of other start-up businesses – the boarding up of a local dining establishment is often just more evident to the average person viewing from the street.)

For over 20 years I’ve been having fun with the design of restaurant logos. In my own work I do tend to include a playful quality in most of the projects. Within the retro image for the Seattle breakfast establishment Glo’s Broiler the keen-eyed viewer will find the lower-case “g” letterform created by the cup of coffee and plate of food. The basic logo design was also easily adapted to “Glo’s Boys” for the sponsorship of gay community athletic teams. The Hamburger Mary’s location, in the same city, was represented upon its opening by the image of a hand and arm holding up a burger in homage to the silhouette of the city’s landmark Space Needle. The Caribbean theme of Indies Restaurant & Bar, in New York City, was conveyed with a palm tree and the “i” letterform in the name being replaced with an illustration of a man playing a steel drum. The font for the name, and all menu headings, evolved from hand-cut tin letters I saw used in rustic signage while once visiting several islands in the tropical region. Ten years later I have yet to finish designing the entire alphabet.

The Central Oregon steak house Crossings is located at a historic Deschutes River cattle crossing. The graphic of cattle, with a reflection in the water, was a natural solution to the client’s location-based design element request. The owner of the North Bank Café wanted a fun “Northern Exposure” look for her business. She suggested a winking female moose with long eyelashes as a possible image. Since a female moose doesn’t have the familiar large antlers we both decided that the resulting graphic is a representation of a wilderness female impersonator. Celilo was the original restaurant and lounge in Portland’s historic Governor Hotel – for which I did the entire corporate identity. Much of the imagery, and interior design, for the hotel project was inspired by the Lewis & Clark expedition to explore the unsettled Pacific Northwest. Incorporating letterforms from the original journals of the pioneer explorers created the logo text. The espresso machine identity for La Patisserie was one of my first restaurant logos, and it served the business for many years before it closed.

One from Column A and one from Column B

Designers often experience a variety of positive and negative aspects in creating graphic imagery for restaurants. For Tracy Moon, of StudioMoon, one of the pleasures of such work is the immediacy of their impact. “With many identities you never have a clear gauge as to how they are received by the intended audiences,” say Moon. “With restaurants (and hotels and other “retail” environments) you can get feedback which is more timely, direct and personal - on an ongoing basis.”

Creative Madhouse principal, and Creative Latitude member, Madelyn Wattigney grew up in New Orleans surrounded by restaurants and cafes. “I developed a love for good food, the pleasure of enjoying a meal, a cup of coffee, or good conversation in a relaxing environment,” she explains. “I thoroughly enjoy the art of cooking, and combining these ingredients with my love for design is what makes the nature of this particular type of project so rewarding.”

“Also, I find it gratifying to create a logo that evokes a pleasurable dining feeling and has the consumer anticipating the experience,” Wattigney adds. “Then there’s always the added enjoyment of ‘wowing’ the client and having them say, ‘You nailed it!’”

“Let’s face it, restaurants are just plain fun to design for!,” according to John Sayles of Sayles Graphic Design. “Many times the restaurant’s concept or theme is the springboard for my designs.”

“On the other hand, if it’s a start up restaurant – and the food concept is still being developed – my logo can set the tone for the establishment,” says Sayles. “I especially like to work on projects where the logo is the starting point and I get to work on the things that follow: interior graphics, menus, uniforms, even advertising and promotion.”

Dan Stebbings, of the firm Fresh Oil, finds that designing for restaurants brings culture, ethnicity and a sense of place into the firm’s work. “We've been fortunate enough to collaborate with a range of interesting and talented people; owners, chef's, interior designers and artisans who make each project unique and the work fun,” says the designer.

In the other column of the restaurant design menu are some of the frustrations and challenges previously mentioned in regards to such projects. The firm Fresh Oil finds that construction and opening fundings are often much more generous than initial operating budgets. “It’s often disappointing to see a design program with great potential be cut way back once the “essentials” are in place…and the most daring and exciting concepts get canned for a more ordinary one with much less potential,” according to Stebbings. “This often happens when we’re brought into the project too late and the concept’s been locked down with no room for new ideas.”

Tracy Moon agrees that the industry is so centered around other elements that affect overhead such as the cost of food and less tangible activities, such as identity and marketing are often left to the end of the planning process - or forgotten altogether.

“I have actually had restaurateurs call and ask me to create advertising for them when they didn't have a logo or a color scheme, or a visual identity of any kind,” Moon says. “Many of them just aren’t focused on this critical aspect of their venture until they meet with us, and by then it is do-able, by it can be too late in terms of budget, timing and the implementation of key elements such as printed materials, awnings, signing, and other applications.”

Often a restaurant’s logo is the only marketing tool they have especially if they do little to no advertising. For Creative Madhouse, one challenge is to keep this in mind during the design process — always remembering the “K.I.S.S” (Author’s note: Keep It Simple, Stupid) factor. Wattigney feels that keeping the design simple and clean will pay off in the end.

“A restaurant’s logo needs to speak volumes in the blink of an eye…it needs to evoke a good feeling and make the consumer feel confident about eating there,” adds Wattigney. “It’s the designer’s challenge to accomplish all of this in a very limited amount of space.”

John Sayles says, “The most challenging part about designing logos for restaurants is seeing a vision for a place and not being able to convince the owner to be flexible and to incorporate new ideas. It can also be frustrating when you know the name of the restaurant just isn’t quite ‘there,’ like when the owner is fixated on some oddball or hard to pronounce thing. Another challenge – from a business perspective – is the high failure rate for restaurants. No one likes to get stiffed!”

A smorgasbord of design challenges

Specific logo projects bring about veritable buffet of design and process challenges. Each restaurant identity confronts a designer with a unique selection of potential obstacles.

When taking on the Raccoon River Brewing Company (RBBC) identity project Sayles Graphic Design found they had several owner/investors involved in the project and to complicate matters further, they all lived in different parts of the country. Getting them all on the same page at the same time was difficult.

“As far as the logo, it was somewhat challenging trying to nail down exactly the right look for the raccoon,” says Sayles. “I wanted him to look friendly and sociable without seeming childish.”

Sayles continues, “On a side note, RBBC was sold to new owners a year or so after it first opened. The new owner got rid of my logo and redesigned a new raccoon character. I swear it is the most hideous, amateurish thing I have ever seen. Usually the “before” logo is God-awful and the “redesign” is a big improvement. Not this time. I still have a hard time going in there and looking at the thing. Their beer is pretty good though!”

“With Jalapeno Pete’s, animating something as character-less as a pepper means that as an artist, I had to give a food item a persona. The logo needed to be simple because of the environment in which it appeared,” Sayles adds. “The cantina is located on the Iowa State Fair grounds, and is only open during the eleven-day run of the state fair each year. In this case the owner was a visionary. He asked good questions and listened to my answers. He made me want to work extra hard and do my best. He is successful because he finds people who are good at what they do and then he lets them do it!”

In explaining Fresh Oil’s work with Tou Bagaille, a romantic beach bar restaurant located on St. Maarten in the Caribbean Islands, Stebbings recalled, “The restaurant is owned and all logo applications were produced by island locals - with very thick accents! So, when it came to communicating via telephone, a lot of repetition and patience was required. The other challenge was trying to work with a client and vendors who were using seriously dated software and equipment. Following up and making sure files sent via the Internet went through OK took a lot of repetition and patience, too.”

“I didn’t know it at the time, but when I started working on the Big Fish logo, three designers had already given up on the project,” says Stebbings. “The owner of Big Fish is a great chef and restaurateur with lots of creative energy who, through the process of working with the others, had figured out exactly what he wanted the logo to be - or so he thought.”

Stebbing continues, “As a result, I had to capture his vision and I wanted to put some of myself into it, too. He had become so frustrated with earlier attempts, I saw this as an opportunity to go beyond what he expected. This took 15 rounds of revisions with numerous iterations sprinkled into each one. The end result is a logo he loves that he puts on everything he can. Last, the entire opening of Big Fish was being filmed for a Canadian television show so, on a few occasions I had to meet with the owner on site and present concepts to him in front of a camera & crew!”

For Creative Madhouse, the Café Creole, Picasso Cafe and Vanilla Moon Café logo projects all had one similar challenge — distance from the client. All three clients were located hundreds of miles from the designer’s studio in Fort Worth. Through the use of modern technology — phone calls, email communication, online proofing, faxing and overnight shipping - these difficulties were quickly overcome.

“Since telepathic communication is not a prerequisite for being a graphic designer I need to rely upon other tools when working with a long distance client,” Wattigney says. “I utilize an in depth logo questionnaire, phone calls, and my gut instinct when interpreting a client’s thoughts, vision and dream for their new identity.”

The Lenox Room identity project is a good example of some of the challenges described by Moon earlier. She literally had about 10 days to do the work, from concept to delivered printed materials. The architect on the project, Wendy Tsuji, brought the designer in on the effort – not the owner.

“The architect was having some very expensive brass push bars made for the front glass revolving doors of the restaurant and was horrified that they didn't have high-quality graphics to go on them,” according to Moon. “She asked them if she could rectify the problem and they said, in effect, sure - as long as it’s done by next week!”

The “Lenox Room” identity won the James Beard Foundation Award for Restaurant Graphics in North America.

The Lenox imagery is a “facelift” done for “Lenox Room” about 8 years after it originally opened. In order to appeal to a younger, hipper, less affluent clientele the owner asked StudioMoon to update the identity previously created by the same firm – while hopefully retaining some of the elements of the original identity so people would know that management was the same. The name was shortened to “Lenox” and new look, and feel, was designed for the restaurant.

21st Amendment was a young brewery, restaurant and bar near the new baseball park in San Francisco whose owners had named the establishment after the amendment repealing prohibition. It did well with the ballpark crowd, especially on game days, and with beer aficionados in general.

“When they came to me they were drowning in a lot of home-spun graphics, hand-drawn cartoons and archival photos centered around the beer protests from the 20’s, says Moon. “It was cute, and fun, but not cohesive.”

For StudioMoon the challenge was to bring the 21st Amendment into the 21st century without losing the flavor and approachable feel they had cultivated in this “Cheers”-like place. Moon replaced their tagline “We Want Beer” with the more sophisticated and creative “Beer Here.” With other graphic changes she was able to create a consistent identity without making the business seem too corporate.

Recipes for the restaurant logo design process

Different designers use different tools and ingredients to create logo images. I was designing logos for almost two decades prior to a computer appeared on my desk. The first program I learned to use was Freehand and all the identities I’ve produced since then have been executed with that particular software.

“I’m a bit old school, I remember when there were no graphic design software applications ….I still start my logo design with a jar full of sharpened pencils and a sketchbook,” says Wattigney. “Once I have the concepts I usually scan the pencil sketches and then redraw.”

In executing her concepts and final files she utilizes Macromedia Freehand almost exclusively, but works with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop when necessary.

Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop were used by Stebbings to create the Big Fish and Tou Bagaille images, however both logos retained the feel of his original pencil sketches. For the two Lenox restaurant identities, Moon used Adobe Photoshop for all photographic imagery, and Adobe Illustrator for typography. The 21st Amendment logo process utilized the Adobe InDesign software. Sayles and his staff use Adobe Illustrator for the majority of the logos they design.

Research is part of the design process for any logo or identity. Some unusual research is sometimes required when executing such projects for food industry establishments. My own restaurant logo projects required tasting a wide variety of foods, drinking numerous espresso drinks and having a cocktail or two. In the case of the Celilo image I needed to do quite a bit of research on the historical aspects of the project, and I worked closely with the chef on the “feeling” he wanted for the dining room.

Tracy Moon needed to understand the evolving nature of the Upper East Side clientele of the Lenox restaurants and how to appeal to them visually at different times in the history and evolution of the same restaurant.
“In the case of 21st Amendment, I needed to research and understand the Prohibition era, as well as immerse myself in the brewing process because, first and foremost, this is an on-site brewery,” says Moon. “And, of course, I had to try (desperately) to understand the mind set of the “Beer Guy.”

“For the Raccoon River Brewing Company, no ‘research’ was needed because I live in a raccoon-infested wooded area … my inspiration is everywhere,” says the principal of Sayles Graphic Design. “Jalapeno Pete’s is a Mexican cantina, so I drank mucho margaritas before starting work on that one!”

“Capturing Tou Bagaille’s Caribbean essence was important on this project, and the design really needed to fit with the surroundings - particularly as it applied to signage,” Stebbings says. “So, I looked through my honeymoon photos which were shot on a neighboring island for good examples of hand-painted signs, colorful buildings and clothing. I also referred to artwork purchased on the islands for inspiration.”

“I felt like the research for Big Fish mostly involved getting inside the head of the owner and getting to understand what he was after,” adds the Fresh Oil designer. “Once I had managed that, I also looked at the coloring of exotic fish and tropical underwater seascapes, reviewed some Circus and Carnival imagery, and watched old WB cartoons, too - which helped me stay sane through the numerous revisions.”

“The Vanilla Moon Café project required me to endure multiple trips to similar type cafes while consuming copious amounts of gourmet coffee,” Wattigney says. “It was a hard job, but someone had to do it. I also referenced my morgue of existing package labels from the food industry and researched celestial/planetary images.”

While researching the Picasso Café project, Wattigney surrounded herself with art history books about Picasso’s work to get a sense of how best to express the essence of Picasso while still maintaining an original design for the logo.

“Café Creole was an easy research,” according to Wattigney. “I needed only to walk out my front door and breathe in the city of New Orleans and order up a few pounds of boiled seafood for additional inspiration.”

A full menu of end results

Some of the greatest exposure of a designer’s efforts in creating a restaurant identity comes from the wide variety of applications of the image. I have had logos used on aprons, hats, food festival banners, doggie bags, drink coasters and many other items.

Fresh Oil’s Tou Bagaille logo was applied to signage, business cards, menus, t-shirts and baseball caps. The Big Fish logo was applied to moving, neon-lit signage, stationery, menus - including a scratch and sniff dessert menu, 8 varieties of private-label soda, embroidered and silk-screened apparel, postcards, temporary tattoos, event banners and advertising.

Each of the logos designed by Creative Madhouse has been utilized in the traditional manner: signage, menus, stationery, t-shirts, aprons, and other applications. Vanilla Moon Café took it one step further and had moon ornaments, matching the logo, created as Christmas gifts for their patrons. Picasso Café also had the icon etched into the glass of their front windows.

StudioMoon’s incarnations of the Lenox imagery found their way onto signage, menus, matchbooks, business cards, stationery, postcards, advertising, specialty promotional materials, glassware, posters and brass pushbars. The 21st Amendment logo is used on many similar items and the brewery’s Web site, banners, commemorative items, assorted clothing items and a readerboard outside of the restaurant.

“Raccoon River Brewing Company initially used the logo I created for a number of items including: signage, menus and on beer glasses, and for a short time the new owners were using both the old and new logo while they made the switch,” says Sayles. “I still laugh when I think about my friends going in and asking for their beer in ‘an old glass.’”

“Jalapeno Pete’s used the logo for signage and apparel, including clever t-shirts that said ‘I Ate the Whole Enchilada!’ and ‘Drink ‘til You Want Me,’ Sayles adds. “They always sell out of those.”

Designing identities for restaurants and bars is fun, challenging, at times a bit aggravating and provides a designer a highly visible result for the effort. It will often leave them hungry for more of the same type of project.

Contributors to this article:

Madelyn Wattigney/Creative Madhouse • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

Dan Stebbings/Fresh Oil • Pawtucket, RI

John Sayles/Sayles Graphic Design • Des Moines, IA

Tracy Moon/StudioMoon • San Francisco, CA

Jeff Fisher/Jeff Fisher LogoMotives • Portland, OR

Note: This article was previously posted in its original format on the design industry site Creative Latitude.

© 2009 Jeff Fisher Logomotives

Identity Re-Design: PavelComm

The company PavelComm evolved out of the nationwide deregulation of the US telephone system in the 1980's. Initially, owner Jim Pavel focused his business efforts on the phone-specific needs of his clients. Pavel also created the first identity for the firm (below left), and I was told it was produced on his original Commodore 64 personal computer.

I've known the Pavel family for a number of years now. I always felt that the company logo had hint of the very familiar Pirelli tire company identity (above right), but never said anything because I was never asked to critique the image. There's probably some truth in my sense about the inspiration as Jim Pavel and his son, Jimmy, both race cars as a form of recreation.

In 2008, I was asked to update, or redesign, the identity of the business. PavelComm was now a customer service focused organization specializing in complete technology solutions. In addition to dealing with all aspects of corporate phone systems, the company provided fiber, voice and data cabling for organizations around the country. The services offered, the Portland headquarters, and client expectations were all more sophisticated. However, the business branding had remained the same for over 20 years.

I appreciated co-founder and owner Bonnie Pavel giving me complete creative freedom in taking on the identity project. Still, in creating a image to assist PavelComm in moving forward, I hoped to include some historical perspective in the new image.

I've never been much of a sketcher when brainstorming concepts. Instead, as noted from some excavated artifacts of past projects, I tend to doodle on Post-It notes, envelopes, memo pads and other scraps of paper. In this case, I did find myself scribbling all over a somewhat wrinkled piece of laser printer paper (above).

Not being one to often just slap an icon next to a type treatment of a business name, I took the circle containing a "P" letterform from my initial doodles and incorporated it with the remaining text to spell out PavelComm. The "C" in the company identity had not previously been capitalized. In making the "C" an uppercase element, I felt it put a put a bit more emphasis on the actual activities of the firm. We seemed well on our way to a finalized logo for PavelComm.

Still, I sensed a bit of hesitation from the decision makers. The upper and lower case treatment of the type spelling out the business name was liked by all; as was the movement implied by the text being italicized. There was positive feedback on the incorporation of an icon, making the identity unique and eye-catching. Those providing feedback did express concerns about the typeface being a bit more "high-techy" looking than desired and that, while the logo as designed appeared a bit more high-end and professional, it said little about the products and services offered by PavelComm.

As we were finalizing the logo design and selecting colors, Beverly Wells, a major player at PavelComm and Bonnie Pavel's sister, was able to articulate her concern about the design. She conveyed her feeling that the logo was not successful in projecting what made PavelComm different from other firms in the same industry. She told me that PavelComm was much more than a company simply providing office communication equipment and services. The "comm" portion of the business moniker also referred to the ability of PavalComm staff to truly listen to the needs of the customer base - and communicate technical information in terms the client was able to understand.

With a little "a ha," I literally went back to the drawing board. A "voice bubble" element was pulled from my original doodles and was incorporated into a skewed Palatino type treatment as a replacement for the "o" letterform (above). "Comm" now contained a visual element conveying the term communication.

The upscale graphic redesign of the PavelComm name still did not contain my desired historical reference to the longevity of Jim Pavel's original logo design. That was easily accomplished by making red the predominant color in the new identity.

The new logo was adopted by PavelComm as the worldwide economy took a dive in late 2008. Due to internal budget concerns, the corporate rebranding of the company is currently an ongoing process.

(Note: My 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.)

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.

Toot! Toot!*: Four creative industry websites feature interviews with designer Jeff Fisher

Jeff Fisher, the Engineer of Creative Identity for the Portland-based firm Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, is featured in three interviews and a podcast recently posted on design industry web sites:

• Sharebrain focuses on 'Braintalk with Jeff Fisher'

Noted identity designer and author Jeff Fisher is featured in "Braintalk with Jeff Fisher" on the international web presence Sharebrain.

The creation of German web designer Thomas Ulbricht, Sharebrain is a design-focused online magazine with articles, resources, interviews, tutorial and much more of interest to web designers and web developers.

In the piece, Fisher discusses his 30-year career, the average day of a home-based independent designer, and sources of inspiration. Ulbricht also asks the designer about favorite projects, how to overcome roadblocks to creativity, his likes and dislikes about the design profession, and other topics.

• New Freelance Show website introduces Interview Series with designer/author Jeff Fisher

Designer and author Jeff Fisher shares knowledge and experiences from his independent design career in an interview on the new Freelance Show blog. Fisher discusses the design career differences between now and three decades ago, the challenges of starting an independent design business, social networking as a marketing tool, and more.

The Freelance Show is a blog and podcast for graphic designers and web designers who want to start and grow a freelance business. From how to land your first client to how to determine pricing and collect payments, The Freelance Show will bring practical, real-world advice from 12-year veteran Creative Director and graphic design instructor, Neil Brown.

• Jeff Fisher interview featured on PsPrint blog

In another example of HARO (Help A Reporter Out) leading to a great promotion opportunity, Jeff Fisher's response to writer Brian Morris' request "Identity Graphic Designer wanted for Interview" evolved into a great interview on the PsPrint blog. The interview covered various aspects of the designer's 30+ year design career, including marketing strategies, surviving career mistakes, dealing with the challenges of an economic downturn, and more.

PsPrint is a cutting-edge Internet printing company with a focus on delivering quality, affordability, and speed, by way of a simplified online ordering system. The PsPrint blog is a frequently updated resource for designers, freelancers and art directors. You'll find valuable tips on setting up print jobs, effective, low-cost printing solutions, and creative ways to improve your design and layout skills.

• Engineer of Creative Identity Jeff Fisher featured
on Escape from Illustration Island podcast

Recently illustrator Thomas James visited the Portland home studio of Jeff Fisher. James, the host of the site Escape From Illustration Island, came to interview the designer for his site's podcast after reading Fisher's article "Self-Promotion the Social Way" in the October issue of the design industry publication HOW magazine. The result is "Escape from Illustration Island Podcast 5 - Social Networking with Jeff Fisher."

James felt that visitors to his site would find Jeff Fisher's take on using social networking as a marketing tool useful in promoting illustration efforts. He developed Escape From Illustration Island as a centralized site for illustration resources he continues to find to find on the Internet, such as podcasts, video tutorials, illustration news blogs, and more.

The podcast is also syndicated on the site

Jeff Fisher is the author of Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands and The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career. He is currently writing the book LogoType, about typography in identity design, with a scheduled release of late 2010.

The designer has received over 600 design awards and his work has been published in more than 130 books on identity design, self-promotion and the marketing of small businesses. In January, Fisher was named one of design industry publication Graphic Design USA’sPeople to Watch in 2009.” In 2008, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives was recognized as one of the top 100 U.S. home-based businesses by the web presence StartupNation.

More information about Jeff Fisher, and his design and writing efforts, may be found on the Jeff Fisher LogoMotives blogfolio.

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

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Logodotes: 2 Boys in a Bed...

[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.]

To be honest, a designer doesn't often find themselves in the position to create a logo with the subject matter of "2 Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winters' Night." I've always been lucky enough to have the opportunity to balance my corporate work with design efforts that are a bit more off-the-wall. "2 Boys in Bed..." was a play being presented by local avant garde theatre company triangle productions!

During almost two decades of designing work for the theatre client, producer Don Horn has always provided the scripts to the shows for which I was creating graphics. In this case the title of the play described the show fairly well. In a 1987 New York winter setting, at the height of the AIDS crisis, two gay men met in a bar, go back to the threadbare apartment of one and, after having sex, end up having a lengthy discussion.

With the design, I immediately wanted to create an eye-catching and simple graphic that would subtly convey the activities of the characters and the passage of time during the night. Within the windows of three graphic panels (above) the moon and star elements seemed to move, hinting at the time passing. My warped sense of humor had a great deal of fun positioning the feet in the bed to reflect a variety of possible sex acts taking place as the night progressed.

The graphic image, without accompanying type spelling out the name of the play, was printed on the front of a white T-shirt promoting, and sold at, the show. The logo, with type (below) was reproduced on the back of the shirt. Ticket and T-shirt shirt sales were very successful.

I have shelves of T-shirts. I'll often grab one and put it on without even paying attention to the printed graphics. Such was the case on the day I wore my "2 Boys in a Bed" tee to a local grocery store. I was still oblivious when I became aware of a woman walking directly my way.

As she got closer she said, "I love your T-shirt design - where can I get..."

It was then I saw a look of horror come over her face as she zeroed in on the positions of the feet in the beds of the graphic. With her face now bright red, she added, "Never mind," and walked away as fast as possible.

If the hope of a graphic designer is for their work to produce action, or a reaction, the "2 Boys in a Bed..." logo was certainly a success.

The identity has been featured in the books New Logo & Trademark Design (Japan), The New Big Book of Logos, Letterhead and Logo Design 7, Graphically Speaking, LogoLounge - Volume 1, and New Logo: One (Singapore). On my Logopond showcase the comments and critiques of the design even drifted to the question of whether two men could have sex in one of the positions shown. It also has the distinction of being included in the recent Graphic Design Blog post "40 Weird and Playful logos – A Double treat!"

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

Theatre Logos

(Clockwise from upper left)

Main Street Playhouse
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

The primary element in the design of the Main Street Playhouse identity is one of the historic street lights outside of the theatre space - with the masks of comedy and tragedy reflected in the globes of the light fixture. The design was recognized with an American Graphic Design Award and publication in the PRINT Regional Design Annual.

Read more about this design on bLog-oMotives.

When Pigs Fly
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

The pig's curly tail forming the S letterform in the name of this theatrical production made the identity stand out. The identity was recognized with an American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design:usa magazine and a Bronze from the Summit Creative Awards.

Girls' Night Out
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

This logo is for a theatrical production about a bachelorette party going to a male strip club. The design received a Silver in the Summit Creative Awards. It appears in The New Big Book of Logos (HBI, USA, 2000), Letterhead and Logo Design 7 (Rockport Publishers, USA, 2001), New Logo World (P.I.E. Books, Japan, 2003), Letterhead and Logo Design 7 (Paper, Rockport Publishers, USA, 2003), The New Big Book of Logos (Paper, HBI, USA, 2003), Logos from North to South America (Index Book, Spain, 2005), Logo Cafe (Page One, Singapore, 2005), Logos from North to South America (Paper, Index Book, Spain, 2006), Logos from North to South America (Paper-mini, Index Book, Spain, 2007), The Best of Letterhead and Logo Design (Rockport Publishers, USA, 2010), The Best of Letterhead and Logo Design (Paper, Rockport Publishers, USA, 2012) and Logo 3 (Zeixs, Germany, 2013)

Family Value Matinees
Client: triangle productions!
Location: Portland, OR USA

The identity for a theatre company play series for kids incorporates the logo for the venue. The term "Family Values" took advantage of the political usage of the words at the time - but actually referred to the fact that a family could buy a single group rate ticket to a show. It is featured in the books The New Big Book of Logos and Blue is Hot, Red is Cool.

All logo designs © 2015 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.

8 tips and tricks for professional and
effective 'Self-Promotion the Social Way'

My article about social networking as a business marketing tool, "Self-Promotion the Social Way, was just published in the October 2009 issue of How Magazine. The piece has also been posted on the HOW website.

In addition to the posted content, suggestions from myself and contributors Justin Ahrens of the Geneva, IL firm Rule29, Nashville, TN children's illustrator Holli Conger and photographer Paul Kline from Washington, DC were used to create a list of eight "tips and tricks" for a sidebar to the print version of the article.

Here are some recommendations from the featured creative professionals currently using social networking as a self-promotion vehicle:

1. Create a well-defined basic social networking profile and maintain that profile consistency throughout all social networking sites. Include keywords in your profile (like "designer" or "writer") that your network is likely to search, so that new contacts can easily find you.

2. Maintain similar consistency in the photo or graphic image you choose for your avatar (the small photo or graphic associated wiht your profile that represents you online) - in effect, branding your social networking presence.

3. Be generous in social networking site posts and updates, promoting and supporting the work of others - rather than exclusively marketing your own efforts.

4. Ask your clients what networks they participate in, and join those. Cross-reference your client and promotion lists on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to maximize your targeted promotional efforts. Invite people on your list to join you on FaceBook, to become a fan of your business and follow you on Twitter - and do the same in return.

5. Don't over commit. Social networking can be time-consuming. Set aside a window of time at the beginning and end of your day for social media, so you're not sucked into Twitter every time someone in your network tweets.

6. Keep things professional. Make sure you don't communicate anything you wouldn't want your clients, prospects or potential employers to read.

7. Provide easy-to-find links to your website and blog in your social media profile, so friends and followers may research and contact you with little effort.

8. Look for a network the fits your personality and industry, with a good mix of customers, vendors and competitors. Once you identify the network you want to create, start making contacts.

You may want to check out the social networking resources of those associated with the HOW Magazine article. The links are as follows:

HOW Magazine: Twitter - @HOWbrand; Facebook - HOW Magazine

Justin Ahrens/Rule 29: Twitter - @rule29; Facebook - Rule29

Holli Conger: Twitter - @HOLLiCONGER; Facebook - Holli Conger and HOLLi CONGER Studios

Paul Kline: Twitter - @Ad_Photographer

Jeff Fisher: Twitter - @LogoMotives; Facebook - Jeff Fisher and Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives