By Mary Clare (MC), Graphic Design Faculty, from the Ai Connections Graphic Design group, as part of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division’s Interview Series.
Photo Credit: Ed Zimkus
In part two of this three-part interview, Rob Janoff (“RJ”)—creator of the iconic Apple logo—provides insight into how he ended up in Graphic Design, where he finds inspiration, and his thoughts on successful logos and brands. (Check out part one of the interview here.)
MC: What are the most important elements of a successful logo?
RJ: Most experts agree that the world’s best logos have similar characteristics. First, does the logo quickly communicate the purpose and personality of the client? Simplicity and appropriateness for how the logo is going to be used would be next on my list for the most important elements. Is the logo memorable and own-able? Does the image work as well in one color as in full color? Will the design work on a billboard or a postage stamp? These are the questions the best brand artists and marketing experts look for.
MC: You initially majored in Industrial Design. Do you see any crossover from that discipline to Graphic Design?
RJ: I originally went to a school that offered a degree in Industrial Design for two reasons. First, I really liked typography and packaging from years of going to the grocery store with my mother as a kid. I thought the place for graphics and packaging was a school that had an Industrial Design Department. Second, since my dad was footing the bill for college, he wanted me to have a degree that lead to a “real job,” not a “play job” like art or design. After a semester in the I.D. Department, I realized there wasn’t much typography going on there. The Art Department across campus was where the real graphic design action was happening.
MC: Where do you find creative inspiration?
RJ: When I have a design project percolating in my brain, I find inspiration in all the usual places – print, video, online, etc. But I find that solutions to many projects just come to me when I’m in another frame of mind—driving, showering, listening to music, any altered state of consciousness. Once I get the graphic problem in my head, I try to forget about it and focus on something else. Then, BAM!! A graphic solution or idea pops in when I least expect it.
MC: What are the elements of good, consistent branding?
RJ: The best brand artists know that branding is more than a logo. It’s the whole feeling or vibe that a company consistently communicates. It’s the color palette, a store interior, the lines of products they sell, the advertising, what the staff or associates wear, their attitude, their packaging, their charity and community involvement, the company’s website and online presence, the store or product’s mission statement, and on and on. Everything a firm or retailer or manufacturer does is branding. I think one of the best examples of good branding is Target.
Stay tuned for the final installment of our interview with the man behind the famous Apple logo!