Identity Crisis! Has Broad Appeal

We imagine most organizations approach the idea of remaking their public faces via routes that are as individual and unique as the organizations themselves. This thought stayed with us as we devoured the latest book from Jeff Fisher, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands (HOW Books, 216pp, ISBN-13: 978-1-58180-939-8, ISBN-10: 1-58180-939-8, US Street Price $35).

The redesign needs came from a variety of sources: tired logos, dated logos, no logos, and took a variety of routes to their eventual destination–50 new, fresh identities that took the look of the brands they represented and brought creative rebirth to each.

One good example is that of Ruby Receptionists. Prior to 2005, it was a firm known as WorkSource Inc., whose remit then (as now) was to provide virtual receptionists to small and medium-sized businesses who didn’t need to (or didn’t want to) kit out with a full-time receptionist. Through the case study we are shown that the firm doing the re-id, Portland’s Sockeye Creative, identified the bigger picture–WorkSource didn’t merely need a new logo, but a new ID approach, because the old one didn’t really fit the way the company plied their trade. Sockeye nailed it with a name that tugs classic societal heartstrings, evoking an era when front-line employees served the customer with precision and pride, and the image of the crackerjack front desk secretary from those days.

Each example of the 50 (covering a wide range of companies serviced by a wide array of professional creatives) delves into the concerns, process, and perils of traversing the re-ID journey in just such detail, providing interest as well as illumination. While not a ‘how to’ book, a professional will see this as a ‘how might I/we’ book; Fisher shows a touch, as he did in his previous HOW book(The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success) for lively prose that makes you feel as though you are being talked to, and the enthusiasm of a passionate, expert explainer. He also provides a valuable ‘setting of the table’ in the prelude section “Identity Crises In Public”, which is a short, delightfully-opinionated view of some recent rebrandings, including Sprint, Intel, Nextel, AT&T, and even the new Quark, Inc.

One thing we found in showing the book to some of our non-design-oriented friends was how popular it became amongst them. When they saw us reading it, they though maybe it was yet another design book for designers; when they got a chance to look into it, they couldn’t put it down–we had to pry it out of their hands just to get it back!

We’ve long felt that the public at large is more interested in design than they think they are, and for us, Identity Crisis! serves as evidence, aided and abetted by Jeff Fisher’s friendly style. This book will find a home not only on designer’s shelves but also the bookshelves of those who just plain like design and good writing.