As typed print became available in mass quantities in the beginning of twentieth century, the importance of the quality of a visual image and its ability to sell products became the beginning of graphic design as a profession. It can be traced to the early years in the 1920’s when the Industrial Revolution began to produce products in mass quantities and the beginning of widespread consumerism. Logos and branding became an important way for producers after the Industrial Revolution to connect with the consumers without the need to describe in great detail, the attributes and benefits of their particular product.
Over the course of the past 75 years, Corgan employed a wide range of logos to convey various messages about the firm to the community. The firm’s brand from 1946 – 1974 was a stylized art deco logo type, which carried the identification of the firm as both architects and engineers. At that time, the firm practiced architecture and also provided civil and structural engineering services, which we routinely performed in our projects. This stylized logo type certainly conveyed the literal services we provided, but also presented an insight into the firm’s creativity in advancing design expression of that period.
The first stand-alone Corgan logo was developed in 1974 and was used by the firm until 1990. The square was reflective of the stability of the firm and is an element that has continued through the years. During those years we continued to actually state those services we provided.
Although not official, we had some fun in 1986 with the development of a logo we used internally to advertise a special client party we held coinciding with the Texas Sesquicentennial. We drew some colors from our logo at the time in order to tie our firm to the event, but the logo itself was really just for fun and became quite the discussion piece around the city as invitations floated across the community. Woody Pirtle, a Dallas graphic designer at the time, came up with the concept. Woody later moved to New York and became the head of a creative agency on Madison Avenue.
The whole exercise of developing a special logo and its impact in the community became evident through this piece and, in 1988; we began the process of developing a logo to coincide with the firm’s 50th anniversary. This was a special logo used only in 1988. The logo was extremely well received and certainly reinforced the firm’s creative position in the community.
On September 10, 1990, we introduced a new firm-wide identity program. The new mark symbolized teamwork and collaboration with a wide range of people, other firms, groups and cultures as the best way to make great architecture. The yellow forms inside the gray circle created the dynamic visual effect symbolizing constant improvement. The yellow color stood for optimism and a positive approach, which are the firm’s traditional values. In this logo we dropped our reference to engineers. The stylized “C” carried the name forward, but required some interpretation by viewers.
In 1995, the firm retained Jack Summerford, a nationally recognized graphic designer, to develop a new logo for the firm. The Corgan yellow square logo with the red word “Corgan” was Jack’s concept, which became immediately popular in the print world. You see many similar logos today, those with a clean, modern look, from a whole range of companies. Our logo was way ahead of its time. As the firm began to provide more than architectural services like space planning, interior design, program management, Media Lab services, etc., the word “Architects” was dropped from the corporate name and it simply became Corgan Associates, Inc. Elements used from earlier logos were combined to create a clean crisp and modern look. Over the years our logo has been successful and has spanned across the U.S. and internationally, as our practice grows. Its elegant simplicity states much about our firm and we would like to think that yellow remains a clue to our firm’s optimism. It provides an opening introduction to what we are all about; the first 1,000 words about the story of our firm.