If you can read this, flip me over

If you can read this, flip me over

Responding to the call for favorite logos, Derek Ungless immediately suggested, New Man. The brand may be remembered for its moment in the 70s when New Man jeans were all over the discos. Stamped, on a leather patch, you didn’t think that much about it. Seemed current, modern. Maybe Herb Lubalin?

No. Raymond Loewy! 

Known more for transportation icons like the Avanti car, the Pennsylvania Railroad streamliners, and the Scenicruiser bus, Loewy was also called upon to do logos for everything from HP to the US Post Office. There is a famous story about how he put the target logo of Logo Strike cigarettes on the back of the pack. Challenged by the client to show why they should pay his big fee for a just a touch-up of their familiar package, he asked them to take an old pack and toss up in the air. It landed on the table, face down, showing a generic advertising message. Then he tossed his pack, and it landed . . . logo side up.

Balancing that moment of designer triumph is the logo for Exxon—the less said about, the better. 

The New Man logo, 1969, is an ambigram, which Wikipedia defines as “a word, art form or other symbolic representation whose elements retain meaning when viewed or interpreted from a different direction, perspective, or orientation.” We see ambigrams today as sort of goth monograms. John Langdon has made a career out of them, starting with artwork for the Dan Brown blockbuster, Angels and Demons. 

This logo, which predates the word “ambigram” by a good decade, is identical when turned upside down. It's surprisingly timeless now. The company closed not long ago, but if you go now you can find a few garments left on Amazon UK

Ungless was art director of Rolling Stone, House & Garden, and Vogue before going on to become the creative director of The Limited and then Brooks Brothers. Moving from magazines to fashion retailing seems like jumping from the frying pan, but he’s been a very successful and influential designer in both categories. He explained on Facebook why he shared New Man:

“My all-time favorite because I would never have seen this solution in a million years. . . .”


Update: Loewy designed streamlined locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad, including the one that powered the Broadway Limited—but not the Twentieth Century Limited, which was designed by John Dreyfus. Of course. Thanks to Greg Shutters of Typetanic for the catch.

A serene humanist typeface, with a familiar personality

A serene humanist typeface, with a familiar personality

“Sometimes I feel that I need to move on”

“Sometimes I feel that I need to move on”