Original Cartoons since 1998.


Fred Seibert's Blog

Archive for the ‘Logos’


October 30th, 2009

Frederator Postcards Series 8.5
Frederator Postcard Series 8.5, mailed October 30, 2009 

We’ve shown you guys the Frederator Films logo (designed by animator Floyd Bishop), but this is the first time anyone else will see it.

More Frederator postcards:

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008
Frederator Postcards Series 7, 2008-2009
Frederator Postcards Series 8, 2009-2010
Frederator Postcards Non-series

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.

Frederator Postcard Series 6.22

September 8th, 2008


Mailed the week of September 1, 2008

They swear to us it’s coming soon. Really. 

Random! Cartoons logo designed by Michael Lapinski
Inspired by Darron Moore

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008


June 28th, 2008

Fredbot by Graham

Graham does CSS design for Next New Networks. But I know his talent is going to bring him to greater places.

The Hanna-Barbera logo & business cards, circa 1992.

October 24th, 2007

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When I first got to Hanna-Barbera in 1992 the studio was nine years past it’s last big success (The Smurfs) and Ted Turner was on the verge of closing the place (producer David Kirschner [Pagemaster, Cats Don’t Dance] convinced Ted to keep the doors open, primarily to save production of his ultimately doomed features). I had absolutely no idea how to turn the studio around –I wasn’t even a novice when it came to making cartoons– but I certainly knew how to resurrect the image of the place. We’d start the turnaround there.

Hanna Barbera (HB Enterprises) production logo Hanna-Barbera Productions logo tag
Hanna-Barbera production logo 1969 Hanna-Barbera production logo 1974
1969                                              1974

I wasn’t too crazy about the now-classic 70s HB logo (I know a lot of you disagree) because I felt the studio had turned its back on the powerful heritage they had making cartoons (I was insulted by the way that the prior regime had continued producing junk-for-revenue like Yo! Yogi and numerous pale Flintstones specials). I much preferred the graphic vibe of the 50s and I was determined to reclaim it. I turned to my pals Tom Corey and Scott Nash who had developed the Nickelodeon logo and gave them my rap. I also handed them Iraj Paran’s re-drawing of the vintage HB script. Tom and Scott agreed with my basic philosophy that contemporary trademarks should be kinetic in conception and presented dozens of logos that incorporated the classic characters (and not only the usual suspects, but Muttley, Barney, Secret Squirrel, Jonny Quest, and others) and Iraj’s script, and they added in the elemental shapes of ovals, circles, squares, and rectangles. I’m not sure we caught the exact spirit I was looking for (that would have to wait until Craig Kellman’s reclaiming of The Flinstones art authenticity) but I felt like we were ready to rock.

When it came to business cards (I’ve posted autographed versions from our founders Joe Barbera & Bill Hanna), I was still smarting from 12 years of purchasing bureaucrats at MTV Networks who’d constantly thwarted my efforts to make dozens of simultaneous business cards from dozens of variations of MTV and Nickelodeon logos. I thought it would be fun and make the brands sing, the company thought it would be wasteful. So, now I was in charge of a company, and multiple, collectible business cards were the order of the day; in fact, my ‘President’ cards were actually printed with the legend “Collect all 8″. The only person who was skeptical was by partner Jed Simmons because he loved making notes on the backs of his cards, and printing the character pictures frustrated his efforts. He got over it.

They were a big hit; when we were at business functions we all quickly ran out of cards. Soon, lots of companies in the entertainment business followed suit with fun collections of business cards (even MTV and Nickelodeon).

If only we could figure out how to make hit cartoons.

Business card back. Scooby Business card back. Dino Business card back. Top Cat Business card back. Muttley Business card back. Huckleberry Hound Business card back. George Jetson Business card back. Betty Rubble Business card back. Barney Rubble
The backs of the 1990’s Hanna-Barbera business cards

The Nickelodeon logo, designed by Tom Corey & Scott Nash.

October 14th, 2007

Nickelodeon Logo Logic

Tom Corey, Scott Nash, and Alan Goodman are the key guys in the Nickelodeon logo saga.

Back in the day my partner Alan Goodman and I were known as the logo guys. It was both flattering and annoying, because we’re not designers and it deflected attention from the brilliant people we worked with often, like Manhattan Design (Frank Olinsky, Pat Gorman, and Patti Rogoff) and Corey & Co. But after we became known as the group who developed (not designed) the MTV logo, our reps were set in stone for a while. Eventually we were able to morph it into the idea of developing media brands, which more accurately reflected how Alan and I thought of ourselves.

After setting the vocabulary (more important than design in many ways) and “look” of MTV Alan and I left MTV Networks to set up our independent Fred/Alan Inc. and our first client was… MTV Networks. By 1984, the five year old Nickelodeon was in trouble, having lost an accumulated $40 million (that’s in 1980’s money, like $200 million today) and worse, it was the absolute lowest rated cable network in America. Dead last. MTVN chief Bob Pittman asked Alan and I to help. It was a tough decision for us to make since we were broke but had no interest in children’s television or the people who worked in it. The ‘broke’ part won out.

The key decisions we made:

Keep the name “Nickelodeon.”
We figured that 10,000,000 kids (there current circulation) knew the name and what it stood for. Management wanted to switch to “Nick,” since it was easier to spell and say; let’s forget that everyone outside the company would wonder why they were named after a garage mechanic. There were a lot of reasons for killing it: no one under a certain age had ever heard of a nickelodeon, and those who had knew it had nothing whatsoever to do with children; the word was hard to spell correctly in the age of pre-Google and spellcheck; and, the word was way too long and thin to dominate a television screen.

Treat the network like an exclusive club, where only kids could join, not like a TV station with all kids shows.
Kids in June of 1984 (when we started work) needed something they could call their own. They felt on the rear end of life, they told us so constantly. Adults (parents and teachers) made all the decisions for them. TV in the 80s wasn’t for them. They were scared of getting older, but their unconscious biology kept egging them on to age faster.

Ban the word “FUN” from the Nickelodeon vocabulary.
Every network promo told the kids that Nickelodeon was fun. It wasn’t. We thought it was better to be “fun” than say “fun.”

Redesign the logo.
Famous television designer, a moonlighting Lou Dorfsman, had designed the logo in 1981, and our brilliant friend Bob Klein had added a silver ball that zoomed around the screen in and out of everything a kid might find exciting. Alan and I didn’t find it exciting.

We’d been working a lot with a new friend, Tom Corey, who owned Corey & Co. (tragically, Tom’s passed away, his companies are now called Corey McPherson Nash & Big Blue Dot)in Boston. He came down to the Fred/Alan office in New York with his partner Scott Nash and heard our pitch for the network. we told them about our decisions I talked about above, and told them while we didn’t know anything about kids’ programming we knew that the offices of Nickelodeon were as quiet as a chapel (as one of the internal wags put it) and that in order to spice the place up we hoped that when our jobs were done they’d all be shooting spitballs at each other. Tom and Scott dug in eagerly.

I wish I had their presentation. It was pretty informal –a bunch of logos sketched on a page– and none any of us were all that crazy about. Eventually, we settled on one that was 3D in nature that revolved around itself, and kind of a standard designer treatment of a trademark. We were about to settle when Alan spoke up and said he didn’t think it was in keeping with our reputation as moving image thinkers about logos.

The MTV logo had been sold in with two thoughts. 1) Rock’N’Roll was a dynamic constantly changing medium and a logo should have a built in updating mechanism. And 2) More importantly, television was moving pictures. Logos were generally designed by print designers who wanted a perfect image, then handed off to moving image designers who had to figure out how to make the damn thing move. Often, it ended up with a big hunk of metal hurtling through space, cause what else were they going to do? We’d argued that in the 1980s that was a dumb thing to do. Why not just design a logo with movement baked into the conceptual frame right from the beginning? TV was the most important place to see the logo, and print designers could just *STOP* the motion and pick an image for an ad; it would be more dynamic even in the print that way.

Alan pointed out that’s how we’d made our bones, and besides were right, darn it. Movement was the way to go, constant change made for a energetic network, and kids were the most vital force in the world. Give them something they relate to: change. He was looking at the orange splat on their page. Tom and Scott argued that orange generally clashed with everything and that would make the logo stand out (as long as we didn’t let designers try and make it work “correctly.”) The splat could morph into any image we liked. And it wasn’t the MTV version of change. I came along for the ride that Tom, Scott, and Alan were proposing, and we trucked over to Bob Pittman’s and Gerry Laybourne’s office to make the pitch.

Bob and Gerry didn’t buy it. No one else there did either. “It doesn’t match anything.” “It’s flat.” “It’s not as cool as the MTV logo, what happened to you guys?”

Ultimately, we prevailed. I’m not really sure how, since all their objections were right on. But we were the “logo guys,” so they eventually bought our action. I’m thrilled they did, since our work with Nickelodeon is some of my favorite stuff in our careers. Tom and Scott went on to be among the premiere designers in television and kids (Scott’s now one of the leading children’s book authors and illustrators), Alan’s a successful producer and brand strategist (still consulting Nickelodeon), and they all deserved the accolades the world could throw at them.

(By the way, the book Nickelodeon Logo Logic was put together in 1998 by the in-house creative services department after Alan and I had stopped full time consulting to the company six years before. The company had expanded so dramatically and so many people had trademark needs that without us –the “logo police”– around they needed some objective rules set down for designers and marketers to follow. I’m not so sure we’d agree with all their points but a trademark is a dynamic thing. Different people interpret it different ways, kind of like a musical composition, and it’s natural it’ll be looked at in new ways over the years.)

How Beijing Olympics Got Its Logo.

September 26th, 2007


(via Emil Rensing)

The MTV logo wasn’t always an “M.”

February 8th, 2007


Running into this old article on the origins of the MTV logo (designed by Manhattan Design: Pat Gorman, Frank Olinksky, Patti Rogoff) in my junk recently reminded me of the accidental process that “branding” is and how often the most successful stuff seems to have an innate intelligence that really isn’t there.

Sometimes I watch a great cartoon and marvel about how the creative team thought about something or other, or how smart they were to use the music a certain way, or how they must planned for the world domination they have.

And then I remember. It’s all an accident. Sure there’s talent, often there’s who knows whom, maybe the fix was in. But luck, never underestimate it.

HA! The TV Comedy Network.

January 5th, 2007

Upper left illustrated by Lou Brooks
HA! The TV Comdey Network

I don’t know, I’m asking.

One of my favorite projects back in the day was one few people have ever seen. It started out as a TV network branding assignment, our agency’s specialty, for HA!: The TV Comedy Network. And it led to one of our favorite cartoons that not enough people have seen. Cartoon creator Bill Burnett was at the center of it all.
Viacom’s HA! was their answer to HBO’s Comedy Channel. They both lost the competition and merged into Comedy Central. Some of Fred/Alan’s best work for the network, the naming of Comedy Central, and the conception and writing of the cartoon were all done by Bill (also the co-creator of ChalkZone).

Once our agency helped name HA! we went to work on its branding, figuring out the belief system of the channel. Our creative director, Noel Frankel, designed the distinct shouting logo, with various illustrators and models depicting the shout. Bill led the effort to write dozens of promotional spots, including What is Funny?.

Bill takes it from here:”It featured Marc Weil–a member of England’s legendary Madhouse Company of London, asking the question “Is This Funny? I don’t Know, I’m asking” in the face of increasingly bizarre events: For example, he’d be dressed in Judges Robes holding two squealing piglets; then two Mexican banditos would emerge from his robes. Then he’d be chased and lassoed by men in diapers, smoking cigars, and so on. The series was directed by Cliff Fagin, produced by Noh Hands Productions. The recurring What Is Funny? Chorus was performed by Bill Burnett, Suzy Williams and Lori Jacobson. Edited by Chris Strand.”

The spots ran in 1989 and that was the end of that though they never left my mind. Fast forward about eight years and I was starting my latest set of cartoon shorts for Nickelodeon, Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Bill was one of our early creative signings and I kept bringing up What is Funny? I reminded him that Nick’s owner Viacom already owned the original spots, so why not take a flyer on creating a balls-to-the-wall funny cartoon character based on the same concept. Bill selected former Spumco artist/director Vincent Waller (now a key part of the SpongeBob team) and they were off to the races.

Nick production chief Albie Hecht loved the cartoon. So did CEO Herb Scannell. But I guess it didn’t have the typical cartoon hero at it’s center or something and we could never get series traction. It’s too bad. It’s a damn good cartoon.

Thanks John.

April 10th, 2006


John Sykes is a collector. That is, aside from being one of the most influential media executives of the last quarter century; he was a charter member and critical force in the original MTV launch team, the VH1 president who originated Behind the Music, and the Chairman of Infinity Broadcasting.

But, to me, he’s my hero for saving this t-shirt. Manhattan Design was Frank Olinsky, Pat Gorman, and Pat Rogoff, and they designed the original, innovative, and revolutionary MTV logo. They were the sole employee-owners and their company was small enough to fit in a room behind a tai chi studio in Greenwich Village.

John has saved every t-shirt from the first five or ten years of MTV, (he must drive his family crazy), and he must be cleaning his closets out, because he just sent this over.

Thanks John, you’re the greatest.