Mike Black ’52
In the Midwest, Mike Black had a major role in the evolution of identity design.
Companies once had just trademarks. Sometimes, they had a mascot as well. Then they added logos, and ultimately identities. In the Midwest, Mike Black had a major role in the evolution of identity design.
Black’s logos established the quickly recognized public faces of many regional firms: the Curtis Hotel, McGarvey Coffee, Podany’s Office Furniture, Heartland Press. A photographer as well, he knew that strong contrasts of light and dark were crucial to perception and recognition, and he put these practices to work for his clients.
Black also published a book based on his design principles. In Here’s to Better Design, he asserted that people prefer to read symbols rather than words, and therefore companies benefited from unique identifying marks. The book, intended for workshop students as well as Black’s own clients, gets to the essence of nonverbal communication; he called his ideas a “Total Design Plan,” based on six basic patterns.