Logodotes: North Bank Cafe

[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 the summer of 2009, I was very sad to learn of the passing of one of my favorite, and most fun, clients. Cecilia Murphy was one-of-a-kind and a Portland institution. It made me smile when, in doing one of the newspaper's "Life Story" features, The Oregonian began the article with "Cecilia Murphy lived by the unofficial motto "'more is more.' Less was not for her."

In that same newspaper article was the minor mention: "She had a short-lived coffee shop." That's how I met the vibrant force known as Cecilia Murphy.

In late 2003, Murphy contacted me to assist in helping brand her latest venture - a coffee house and cafe in the St. Johns neighborhood of North Portland. She conveyed a desire to have the business project an image of the television show Northern Exposure meeting North Portland. Some Victorian elements were to be mixed with comfortable over-stuffed furniture and a few rustic Northwest touches - including vintage mounted heads of hunted wildlife.

Her eyes twinkled as she suggested that the cafe identity might included the image of a winking moose, with long eye-lashes and a "big rack." I knew that Murphy meant antlers in this case, but her smile told me she knew exactly what she had said. Throughout our conversation the moose was referred to as "she."

After thinking about the input for a moment, I told my client that I didn't think a female moose would have antlers. Murphy quickly replied, "Well, I guess we'll have a cross-dressing moose."

I appreciated the opportunity to be totally playful with the North Bank Cafe logo project. The moose image quickly developed as a fairly cartoon-ish creature. I researched moose hoof prints, to be used as bullets in the design, and had fun playing with type possibilities, prior to settling on Horndon as my favorite primary font for my initial design concept. Still, second-guessing myself, I was a bit unsure about having possibly taken the beast too far. I included one more conservative concept in the rough designs I presented (above left).

As is the case in 85-90% of my identity design projects, the client was immediately drawn to my very first concept. With a little fine-tuning it became the final logo for the North Bank Cafe (above right).

The North Bank Cafe was short-lived. Unfortunately, Cecilia Murphy is also no longer with us. I am happy that the cross-dressing moose of the logo does live on. It appears in the books Logo Design for Small Business 2, 1000 Restaurant Bar & Cafe Graphics (and its recently-released paperback mini edition) and 100's Visual Logos and Letterheads.

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives