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Creating great logos: Ivan Chermayeff

  • Published on December 5, 2017
Creating great logos: Ivan Chermayeff

Creating great logos and brand identities requires more than learning Illustrator or taking Creative Cloud classes. Many of the most iconic logos and brand identities were created long before digital design tools were available, with many created by the graphic designer Ivan Chermayeff.

While the public may not know Mr. Chermayeff, the logos he designed are seen daily by hundreds of millions. He designed the logos for television networks Showtime, PBS, Univision, and the peacock logo for NBC which is now used by Comcast. His work extended to the sun used by the Smithsonian institute, the yellow rectangle of National Geographic, and the Chase bank octagon that looks like a cross between a stop-sign and camera shutter. His logo design skills also brought us the iconic PanAm airline logo, with the sleek looking globe showcasing lines of longitude and latitude.

Especially in New York, his designs are everywhere you look, including the enormous red number 9 that sits at the entrance to 9 west 57th street. Mr. Chermayeff died over this past weekend, and he leaves behind a legacy of great work and many contributions to the graphic arts and design community.

The famed logo designer founded his identity design firm in 1957 which is now known as Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. He also served as a torch-bearer for all designers in his role as the president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. He described his logo design philosophy to the AIGA a few years ago, stating that a completed logo should look simple, but it generally takes much longer to complete. He said, “It is usually a two-month process to get to that point, but it should look like it took five minutes.”

Most interestingly, as he designed logos, Illustrator, Creative Cloud, and computer were not part of his tools. “I don’t touch computers” he said. The next time a designer is working on a logo, they may find this advice useful – starting with sketchbook and pencil. Mr. Chermayeff attended high school nearby our Boston area headquarters in the home town of our founders, worked across midtown from our New York City training center, graced our world with beautiful designs, and gave back to the design community at large.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices. Jennifer holds the CPUX-F credential from the UXQB.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern UX Design, and worked closely with the Microsoft Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including XD, Sketch, Balsamiq, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blend for Visual Studio. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.