When I start talking about identity design, everyone loses his or her sense of humor. “Logos? That’s no laughing matter,” is the tone. There’s no room for funny in logo design or ID systems. Don’t you people understand this is a serious business? Of course it’s serious business. It’s the cornerstone and foundation of a company’s communications plan. But does that mean every logo should be a hard lined box with a tortured letterform, and a system with a vertical blue bar on every piece of collateral? I would say, “No.” Communications should engage and delight. That applies to identity design as well as a website, brochure, or signage program.
A great example of this approach is Alexander Girard’s design for La Fonda del Sol restaurant. In 1960, Restaurant Associates hired Girard to oversee all elements from the logo to the plates. Located in the Time & Life building in New York, La Fonda del Sol embraced the international ambitions of Rockefeller Center. Girard’s identity is varied and uses a multiple set of icons. What, you say, more than one logo? Was he mad? I don’t know about Girard’s psychological health, but it works for me. The restaurant paired the hand-made, craft of Mexico with a high-end and cosmopolitan tone. The solution was years ahead of a tongue-in-cheek tone now used by Jet Blue and Virgin Air. I especially like the newspaper ad that reads, “Will the lady who lost her composure during Fiesta at La Fonda del Sol please come back this Sunday?” I’m not so sure about the completely non-politically correct Siesta ad.