07 January 2010

[logo design] Logos Of Dreamland #1: Simon & Simon Confidential Investigations

2288.This is the first in what I'm intending to make into a series of posts regarding logo design for companies that don't really exist.

In TV and movies, we come upon fictional businesses. These business form part of the platform for the plot of the story, and are very necessary in many cases: they reflect the personalities of some of the characters involved, almost becoming a silent character in their own rights.

Simon & Simon was one of the more popular and long-lived examples of that perennial American TV favorite, the private detective story. Simon & Simon's particular driver was the opposites of the two Simon brohers – Rick (Gerald McRaney), the free-spirit, rough-and-ready, charmingly womanizing Vietnam Marine vet who acts on his gut and A.J. – the boyishly-handsome, smooth, stylish, business-oriented and smart sort who uses his mind as much as he uses his gut (Jameson Parker). The chemistry between them were of loyal brothers who were also best friends (as the first season's theme song will tell you) and both who have a passion for being PIs.

It made sense that the logo for the agency, Simon & Simon Confidental Investigations (motto: Courteous Service, Resonable Rates) should unite the two names. The symmetry is kind of irresistable. How to combine it in a way to illustrate the mission in a TV-memorable way?

Combine it with that old detective standby, the magnifying glass, arrange it just so. The series' debut episode, "Details at Eleven" (notable for Peter Graves as the villain) also debuted the Simon & Simon logo which, for the first two seasons, were on an awning over the entry to the office:

The logo unifies the two names by highlighting the initial S's. To play up the detecting property of the magnifying glass, note that the I's in Simon are slightly enlarged in the lens of the glass.

This, however, wasn't the final version of the logo. Pilots being what they are, some things change between the first and second episodes. And thus it was with the logo; the glass was reversed, and the logo was actually improved on:

Reversing the magnifying glass and making it focus on the ampersand really strengthens this logo. The emphasis on connection between the brothers carries many positive connotations that helpmarket the brand. It also reminds one of the thing that a skilled investigator does – making connections and looking closely and carefully. The ampersand is a memorable glyph that centers well. The visual play on the magnifying glass's lens is also preserved. The retro touch on the handle of the glass is also a very nice touch – PIs have a long history in western culture, and the design appeals to mystery lovers and tradition lovers alike. It also nests well between the names (when the name is in small caps away from the initials), tying the whole thing together, just like The Dude's rug.

It works well at small sizes too, as this yellow pages ad from a first-season episode demonstrates:

Also notice two things for trivia buffs: Simon & Simon were based in San Diego, and A.J. Simon's full name was Andrew Jackson Simon.

The Verdict: The logo for Simon & Simon Confidential Investigations succeeds at its job. Depending on the magnifying glass, a detective cliche, is a smart move here because of the way it's used to unify and impart a charming meaning to the whole thing – even the graphic trick of enlarging what's seen through the glass makes sense here. Would it win a design award? I don't know. Does it work very well? Yes it does, it does indeed.

Simon & Simon's logo is apt design and is one I kind of wish I'd have come up with.

(NB: the above shots were screenshots and also at least one of them was screenclipped from http://www.simon-and-simon.info/, which is a wonderful site with a bunch of cool rememberances and screencaps from a true fan. You can't go wrong with this show, truly).

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