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Fred Seibert's Blog

Archive for the ‘Branding’

Where it all began.

January 23rd, 2010

The visual Craft of William Golden

Talk about unsung heroes. For those of you interested in graphic design or broadcasting or branding or marketing –or you’re just a media freak like me– you really should read this book, The Visual Craft of William Golden (hit ‘Full Screen’ up above, or download a PDF; it’ll be easy).

William Golden is the father of broadcast design, having been completely responsible, under Frank Stanton and owner William Paley, for the look and feel of the television network of the Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS to you younger viewers), the first network to take into account every single aspect of it’s image and vocabulary. Most famous for the most famous TV logo of all time, the CBS eye, Golden was a philosopher and an artist in the most philistine moment of the 1950s. He was the man who was able to make one believe Paley’s conceit that his network of “I Love Lucy” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” was actually “the Tiffany Network.”

Golden wasn’t just about the logo, as a quick visual inspection of the book will bear out (but, check out the cool ways it was used, obviously but subtly, like on page 32). But, read it instead, you’ll get some great insights as to how a great creative work is done even at a behemoth like a TV network.

One quick, related, digression. George Lois used to tell me the story of his early job working under Golden’s art director Kurt Weiss, the man who actually designed the CBS logo. His gig was redrawing an original CBS type font, a Didot variation. Lois told me he worked for weeks on the “8″ alone because Golden insisted that the cross lines couldn’t actually meet, and George had to do it over hundreds of times to meet his exacting expectations.

Sadly, Golden is only known among broadcast design freaks like me (I had to become one to figure out how to do my job at MTV). He passed away (young, at 48) and the reins were handed to senior designer Lou Dorfsman who, unfairly, got the lion’s share of the credit for origination as the network matured and publicity accrued in the 60s and 70s.

Like I said, take a little time to read this hard to find book. It was rewarding to me the first time I sat down with a rare copy in the 80s, and it’s wisdom has only become richer over time.

(video via grain edit and Lined & Unlined)

You’ll never look at music the same way again.

January 4th, 2010

MTV: The Making of a Revolution, written by Tom McGrath

By the mid-1990s, a teenager who’d had his mind blown by the music video visual feast was old enough to be a damn good writer and reporter, so Scranton’s Tom McGrath (now the Executive Editor of Philadephia Magazine) decided to literally write the book. MTV: The Making of a Revolution told the whole story (it’s now out of print, maybe since MTV: Music Television become MTV), behind and in front of the camera.

As I remember, Mr. McGrath’s reporting was fairly complete and, all in all, accurate, in and of itself often a rarity in media reporting. He made me and the work my teams did look good, which made my mother and father very happy. Me too.

The doo-wopping of television.

February 4th, 2009

Frame grab from “Top of the Hour”, by Marv Newland/International Rocketship

“The Fred/Alan television branding execution often started with defining a network’s sound.”

Slowly over the last few years I’ve been putting some of my archives online. For me it’s easier to organize than shelves and drawers.

Anyhow, one of the things I uncovered was this fave that I think regular readers of Frederator Blogs are going to love. My partner Alan Goodman and I took one of our favorite doo-wop groups, Eugene Pitt’s The Jive Five, and built the on-air Nickelodeon brand around them.

Frame grab from “The Jive Five”, by Jon Kane/Optic Nerve
Jive Five

With the help of our producer Tom Pomposello, and animators/production companies Eli Noyes & Kit Laybourne, Joey Ahlbum, Colossal Pictures, David Lubell, Jerry Lieberman & Kim Deitch, Marv Newland/International Rocketship, and Jon Kane/Optic Nerve, we established Nickelodeon’s identity at a moment they were teetering on complete and abject failure. And, we had a righteous ball doing it. (You can get the whole story here.)

Fred/Alan IDs 1985-1991 from fredseibert on Vimeo.