Archive for the 'Leigh Theisen' Category

Leigh Theisen

December 11, 2010

Final Thesis Proposal

January 27, 2011


Most identities, over decades, have once started as a detailed, pictorial image and have evolved into an abstract, vectored logo. It is this phase of reductive expression and communication that designers have created these simplified identities as the company expands and becomes more familiar to the everyday consumer. Of course as technology grows and we see things more on the web and at a faster pace, we need that simplified form to give us quick information without all of the cluttered detail. But as these logos become more and more abstract, we lose that classic, original, and familiar face of an identity and brand that we have all become accustomed to.


I intend to investigate and show that we should retain the heritage of familiar identities to save them from all looking the same, such as circles, squares, and solid colors.

Case Studies

My first case study will be of chosen logos, such as Saul Bass’ Quaker Oats and AT&T logo, in how they have evolved from a very pictorial image and over the years have slowly started chipping away information from the logo and is left without the company name and only an abstract form. I would like to show how this progression will eventually have these logos and identities end up into a single, solid shape or form with only distinct, recognizable colors. My second case study will be about logos and their context and how much influence that can have on abstracting a logo. If it has a strong familiarity you can simplify the identity so it can be recognized quicker, but if you take too much away, even as familiar as it may be, it can start to look similar to another identity and completely lose or change its own meaning. My third and last case study will be how pictorial logos versus abstract, more simplified logos communicate in specific environments. They could be shown as they live in technology, on the web or phone applications, or in outdoor environments, on the side of a building or an ad in the newspaper.


Heritage – property that is or may be inherited; valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions that are passed down from previous generations.

Corporate Identity – the “persona” of a corporation which is designed to accord with and facilitate the attainment of business objectives. It is usually visibly manifested by way of branding and the use of trademarks. In general, this amounts to a corporate title & logo.

Pictorial – of or expressed in pictures, illustrated.

Abstract – indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art.

Logo – a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition.


“20 Corporate Brand Logo Evolution.” InstantShift | Web Designers and Developers Daily Resource. Web. <http:// logo-evolution/>.

Armin. “Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Revised Edition – Brand New.” UnderConsideration LLC/ Brand New. 8 Aug. 2009. Web. < brandnew/ archives/coca-cola_vs_pepsi_revised_edition.php>.

Bierut, Michael. “68 – The Mysterious Power of Context.” Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2007. Print.

Bierut, Michael. “69 – The Final Days of AT&T.” Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2007. Print.

Heller, Steven. “A Makeover for the Starbucks Mermaid.” New York Times. 8 Jan. 2011. Web. <;.

Meggs, Philip B., and Alston W. Purvis. “Chapter 20 – Corporate Identity and Visual

Systems.” Meggs’ History of Graphic Design. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons, 2006. 399-423. Print.

Morgan, Hal. Symbols of America. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1986. Print.

Rand, Paul. “Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons.” Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design. New York: Allworth, 1994. 88-90. Print.

Reading Log

Jan. 18 – “A Makeover for the Starbucks Mermaid” by Steven Heller, The New York Times

Jan 19 – “The Mysterious Power of Context” by Michael Bierut, 79 Short Essays on Design

Jan 19 – “The Final Days of AT&T” by Michael Bierut, 79 Short Essays on Design

Jan 22-25 – “Corporate Identity and Visual Systems” from Meggs’ History of Graphic Design

Jan 25 – “Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Revised Edition” by Armin on Brand New

Jan 27 – “Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons” by Paul Rand, Looking Closer







January 17, 2011

Proposal 1

Forms & Logos

I have an interest in looking at a study in reductivism with logos and its forms. I’d like to focus on how much information in the form do you need to convey the message of the logo; a pictorial versus abstraction study. I want to research how certain logos and identities have reduced information in their logo from past to present to simplify and how it may communicate better. I would also like to see how abstract a logo and its form can get and see if it is still recognizable. I think familiarity plays a role with a logo’s allowance for abstraction and I’d like to see if other logos could improve, based on how popular they are to our culture, to a more simple and successful logo.

Proposal 2

Analog vs Digital

I am interested in finding out what kind of impact analog and digital have on communication and design. I would like to do a study on looking at something created for publishing but in a web form and vis versa to see what difference there is and what we are drawn to exactly with technology based communication. I would want to see what is gained and what is lost as far as those two different aspects of design. I feel there is something different about having something that is concrete than something brought to you on a screen of a cell phone or computer. There is something powerful about a large poster on the wall rather than something you see on the web, and I want to explore more of that impact on communication, design, and its environment.

Proposal 3

Type & Ornamentation

After reading “I Wonder” by Marian Bantjes I have taken an interest in ornament. But not just ornament, but what type can be as pattern or decoration in design. I would like to explore more about type and letter forms becoming pattern and also abstracting letter forms to create other types of pattern with those as well. I would like to experiment in taking letter forms apart and creating puzzle like pieces and creating ornament and see what an impact it can have on a page. I would overall like to do an abstract vs decorative patterning with type and letterforms study.


December 10, 2010

Proposal 1

Ever since my very first semester, I have developed quite the interest in creating forms for logos. Starting with Visual Aesthetics along with Visual Systems when we thought of a made up business and had to create a logo for it, I loved being able to sketch out a lot of different forms and thought it was really intriguing to find all the different ways to represent one single idea through simple shapes. I have also been getting more interested in how type can influence a form within a logo, especially working on the Grassroots Goods new identity in Intern. I think I would like to explore how logos are developed as far as the form goes, and how forms within logos have changed from past to present. Also, how much information in a form you need to convey the message of the logo, simple versus detailed. All in all, I would like to discover what forms make the best logos and symbols and what makes them successful.

Proposal 2

After creating different logos for made up business and rebranding, I have had a liking for creating forms to represent certain objects or ideas. But it’s not just the form in itself that interests me entirely, but how you can abstract a form and still represent what you are trying to portray. I want to explore how much of a form you need to represent something or how much you can take away before it becomes non-recognizable. I wanted to investigate this with line and solid color planes and possibly pattern. This idea also goes along with what types of forms people connect with certain objects or words, and psychologically why that is. In general, I would like to discover how much of a form you can have to be recognizable and what associations people make with certain forms.

Proposal 3

Lately I have been noticing more and more every time I am out with other people at an event or even just eating at a restaurant, it is no surprise that everyone literally has their phones sitting right next to them on the table or in hand the entire time. I think there is a social issue in the fact that over time we have wanted to communicate more and more yet it is not verbally, it is all strictly visually through text. There has been improvement upon improvement to new, more intelligent technology and the way we react to these new ways to communicate is interesting to me. We no longer even make phone calls it is strictly text most of the time, and we don’t even send birthday cards anymore rather we send our messages through social networks like facebook. What is it that we are so drawn to with this new technology based way of communicating? I would want to explore how we react to technology and its design and why we are so drawn to these new improvements through time.