Graphic designers (UnderConsideration LLC), authors, and Internet instigators Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio recently closed their influential design blog Speak Up and left New York to set up shop in Austin, Texas. Besides the fact that their mortgage now nets them double the square-footage, not much has changed for the husband-and-wife team: They still run several blogs, including the popular branding blog Brand New, work for clients, and write books, including their newest, Graphic Design Referenced, published by Rockport. The highly-visual guide highlights the industry's technical terms, historical moments, and influential practitioners with over 2,000 projects, so we asked Vit and Gomez-Palacio to dig out the 12 juiciest stories about our favorite brands for some salacious summer design reading. Enjoy!

Pharmacist Dr. John S. Pemberton used two main ingredients in the creation of his famous beverage, coca plant and cola (or kola) nut. Frank Robinson, his partner and the company's bookkeeper (chief financial officer, perhaps, in today's terms), named the drink Coca-Cola, which Pemberton introduced in 1886 at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. Coca-Cola's first ad ran in the Atlanta Journal on May 29, 1886, and featured the name set in a blocky sans serif typeface; it wasn't until a June 1887 ad that Robinson introduced the Spencerian handwriting logo he developed. Later, an oilcloth sign with the red logo on a white background was placed on the awning of Jacob's Pharmacy. More than 120 years later, the Coca-Cola logo remains true to its second logo.

Federal Express, established in 1973 by Frederic W. Smith, began working with Landor Associates in the early 1990s to fortify its growing brand presence. Landor's research revealed the name Federal Express was not optimal for global markets and suggested renaming the company FedEx, the way some insiders and customers already referred to it. The identity design was led by the senior design director at Landor's San Francisco office, Lindon Leader. After hundreds of design explorations and input from their clients, Leader and his team presented six possibilities to a room full of executives. Only Smith spotted Leader's typographic sculpting that revealed an arrow between the E and the x. The new logo was introduced in 1994, but people still challenge each other to find the hidden arrow.

America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction--written by Jon Stewart and the show's motley crew of writers and "correspondents"--was a runaway success, with 2.5 million copies printed by 2005; it spent 49 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. But the book wasn't without challenges, the least of which may have been the more than 50 potential covers presented by Paula Scher and her design team at Pentagram. The cover eventually selected featured a bald eagle, but as it is legally impossible to photograph these birds (an endangered species), a very (very) steep price was paid for a day of shooting a golden eagle. With some patience and wrangling, the photograph was taken with both Stewart and the eagle--a rope holding the eagle was removed in Photoshop.

"Charles Lewis Tiffany has one thing in stock that you cannot buy of him for as much money as you may offer," a 1906 New York Sun article has been paraphrased as stating. "He will only give it to you. And that is one of his boxes." The Tiffany & Co. blue box has come to mean many things beyond the jewelry it encases: luxury, romance, and expectation. The box and the blue--designated Pantone 1837, based on the year Tiffany was founded, not Pantone's color spectrum and numbering--have remained consistent all these years.

In 1993, Titan Sports, Inc. (now World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.), threatened to pursue legal action against Shepard Fairey for using Andre the Giant's name and image in his "Andre the Giant has a Posse" stickers. In turn, Fairey created a “a stylized version of the wrestler’s face paired with the mandate “OBEY”--a trademark Fairey now owns.

The first red and white label of condensed tomato soup by the Campbell Preserve Co. debuted in 1898, after the company's treasurer attended a Cornell University football game, admired their red and white uniforms, and suggested those colors for the label. The medallion at the center of the label is based on the gold medallion for excellence awarded to the soup at the 1900 International Exposition in Paris. Aside from minor improvements over the years, the tomato soup label looks nearly as it did more than 100 years ago.

Reid Miles was hired as the designer for Blue Note Records in 1956. Combining the soulful black and white photographs founder Francis Wolff took during recording sessions, depicting the artists in their true element, with impeccably simple yet infinitely varied typographic treatments and lone bursts of color, Miles established the singularly distinctive look of Blue Note and its jazz offerings. Interestingly, Miles much preferred classical music over jazz, often giving away the album copies he received from Blue Note. Miles designed approximately 500 covers until 1967.

First introduced by Theodor Tobler and Emil Baumann in 1908, Toblerone has maintained its triangular packaging consistent, applying new designs over the years. Its most recent, in 2000, by brand consultancy SiebertHead features a new logo depicting the Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland in a simple drawing and the silhouette of a bear, barely, but playfully, discernable on its surface.

In 1953, Hugh Hefner began assembling a new kind of magazine for men, one defined by an elusive lifestyle of both cultural and material sophistication and riches that also celebrated sex as an everyday occurrence and not the taboo it was considered; the title was Stag Party. With a threat from a hunting magazine named Stag, Hefner selected Playboy as the title and a bunny as its mascot. The now-famous icon of the bunny profile, drawn by Playboy's art director for 30 years, Art Paul, made its debut in the third issue, and from that moment on it became Paul's visual quiz for Playboy's readers: Find the bunny in the sophisticated, witty, and conceptual covers of the 1960s and 1970s--a far cry from today's blunt displays of cleavage.

In 1998, Dave Eggers published the first issue of the literary journal McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Initially designed by Eggers himself--an accomplished writer but not nearly an equally celebrated graphic designer--who chose Garamond 3 as the publication's default typeface, later to become its signature typeface. In 2002, Eli Horowitz joined Eggers as managing editor--and second designer-without-formal-training--of McSweeney's, which was now publishing, along with the Quarterly, books and a new magazine, The Believer. The outpour of titles by McSweeney's in the ensuing years have been lusciously produced and designed despite--or perhaps because of--Eggers's and Horowitz's blissful ignorance of the rules and principles of graphic design.

The firm Manhattan Design, led by partners Frank Olinsky, Pat Gorman and Patti Rogoff, was the force behind one of the most iconic logos of the last quarter century. The process was remarkably collaborative: Rogoff first drew the big M and worked with Gorman to determine its perspective; then Gorman suggested a pointy TV to its side, which Olinsky took and spray-painted it. Meanwhile, the M was subjected to productive tomfoolery, with the partners rendering it in bricks, polka dots, and zebra stripes, and suggesting the logo could be all these things. And, as the years have demonstrated, even more.

With ten titles in Penguin Books' original offering, the paperbacks launched in 1935 with the deceptively simple and now iconic covers designed by 21-year-old employee Edward Young: three horizontal bars--the top and bottom color-coded (orange for fiction, green for crime, dark blue for biography)--sandwiching a white bar. One bar holds the Penguin Books cartouche, the next one the title and author, set in Gill Sans, and the last one is the habitat for its logo, a penguin, also designed by Young after a visit to the London Zoo.

The Secret Design History of 12 Famous Brands

Graphic designers, authors, and Internet instigators Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio have released a new book, "Graphic Design Referenced." The highly-visual guide highlights the industry's technical terms, historical moments, and influential practitioners with over 2,000 projects. We asked Vit and Gomez-Palacio to dig out the 12 juiciest stories about our favorite brands. Enjoy!

Graphic designers (UnderConsideration LLC), authors, and Internet instigators Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio recently closed their influential design blog Speak Up and left New York to set up shop in Austin, Texas. Besides the fact that their mortgage now nets them double the square-footage, not much has changed for the husband-and-wife team: They still run several blogs, including the popular branding blog Brand New, work for clients, and write books, including their newest, Graphic Design Referenced, published by Rockport. The highly-visual guide highlights the industry's technical terms, historical moments, and influential practitioners with over 2,000 projects, so we asked Vit and Gomez-Palacio to dig out the 12 juiciest stories about our favorite brands for some salacious summer design reading. Enjoy!

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