An Innovative Branding and Identity Firm

We are visual, by nature.

“I see” means “I understand.”

But we don’t see and understand everything at once. We first see and identify simple shapes that match images we’ve previously seen, identified and stored in memory.

That’s why a business must have a strong symbol, a “logo” or “servicemark,” to represent itself and its products or services. It is the first and most powerful device for capturing your customer’s attention – on your store on the roadside, on your package on the shelf, on your invoice on the desk.

Our corporate identity and branding work doesn’t just speak for itself – it speaks clearly, strongly and distinctively for each of our clients. Have a look at the business identity programs we’ve done for other clients. You’ll see exactly what we mean.

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

American Bar Association

American Bar Association

A national professional organization

The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional association in the world. Its 400,000 members represent a very wide range of legal specialties and viewpoints. Its many sections and divisions support hundreds of educational, judicial, and standard-setting programs, each with their own graphic identities.

The Problem: Create a single symbol that would unify the ABA’s multiplicity of programs – and help unify and strengthen the organization itself.

We quickly realized that the ABA’s brand mark could not be a symbolic logo which would clash with individual program symbols already in service. Rather, the ABA mark would have to be in the form of a signature, a final identifying seal to each individual program’s themes and graphics. The brand mark we created melded the ABA initials into a single, strong pyramid structure boldly expressing its strength and unity.

It has now been used universally throughout the organization for 40 years. Case closed.

Posted in Home | 3 Comments

Northshore Fireplace

Northshore Fireplace

A retail shop

Northshore Fireplace is a specialty retailer in one of Chicago’s most upscale suburban areas. Facing a crowded marketplace, design-sensitive clientele, and severe signage restrictions, Northshore needed a “servicemark” that would both stand out boldly and help tell its story.

Northshore is the name of the business… and the name of the game. To our designers, the curving arch of the lower-case “n” suggested a fireplace hearth – and a few sweeps of color brought the warm feelings of a cozy fireside into the picture.

Although elegantly simple and bold, the servicemark delivers remarkable value: business function, positive emotional associations, and strong linkage to the business name. Problem solved… to the Nth degree.

Posted in Home | Leave a comment
An Innovative Branding and Identity Firm

Most advertising agencies, branding firms, design firms and other professional specialties contain many interrelated and necessary skills – but must select one to feature in their corporate identity. DesignMarks needed a single graphic for use in its promotional materials to inform clients of the services beyond our primary definition, which were available and integrated in our work.

Our graphic solution was this matrix, showing how our marketing, advertising and graphic skillsets were interrelated and centered on our clients’ marketing strategy. Although never used as a corporate logo or servicemark, the graphic was particularly useful in our presentations and promotional materials.

Best way to give customers The Big Picture is usually a big picture. We do that.

Click on image for a larger view.
Posted in Home | 1 Comment

Terry Hefter Associates LLC

Terry Hefter Associates LLC
A Psychotherapy Practice

Terry Hefter Associates is a well-known psychotherapy practice established in 1996. The large, multi-therapist practice works with patients experiencing emotional issues including relationship problems, depression and/or anxiety.
The practice had already made two giant leaps forward with their established themeline: “Helping Bring Sunshine to Lives.” First, its focus is not on themselves but on their patients’ needs and expectations. And second, it transcends the literal functions of therapy to embrace sunshine as a powerful and positive promise of happiness and wellness.
That’s a perfect metaphor. So that’s what their logo should be… and is.

Posted in Home | 1 Comment


A Waterbed Store, Manufacturer and Distributor

A Chicago waterbed store was about to transform the hippy-era waterbed industry – by designing and manufacturing high-fashion waterbed models worthy of upscale homes and penthouse apartments. They turned to DesignMarks to name and design their upscale retail location and planned manufacturing operations.

DesignMarks writers and designers dubbed the company “Undercurrents,” a name suggesting the waterbed focus and appropriate to its upscale interior design market. Our designers tied into the theme with this highly-evocative wave pattern adapted from Finnish avant-garde textile firm Marimekko, which became the company logo and interior design theme for the company’s stores. The Marimekko fabric itself served as bold wall banners in Undercurrents stores and trade show exhibits.

Undercurrents became the premier manufacturer and wholesaler of top-end waterbeds throughout the Midwest serving high-end furniture stores.

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Undercurrents Electric Company

The Electric Power Company

You can’t keep a good logo down. Nearly two decades after the DesignMarks name and logo helped his waterbed empire rise to success, the Undercurrents business owner decided to enter another emerging business: discounted electrical service for residential customers.

Suddenly the “currents” part of the name seemed to have a certain electricity – and the wave pattern connected nicely with the sine wave of household AC. And since – like all DesignMarks clients – he owned all rights to his business identity, all it took was typesetting a new address to get more value from his design investment.

We like this story. How many times do you get two happy endings for the price of one?

Posted in Home | 1 Comment

US Gypsum Company

US Gypsum Company
A Construction Materials Manufacturer

US Gypsum were the largest manufacturer of gypsum-based building materials in North America, including paints, wallboard and other high-volume building products. DesignMarks was assigned to develop a new corporate logo, as well as design out its usage on corporate business materials; product labels and watermarks, retail displays, and trade show exhibits.

Our designers felt the strong United States identification – both in the company name and production – would be assurance of both material quality and stable delivery for the domestic construction industry. Red, white and blue was a natural.

US Gypsum Company has now become USG Corporation, allowing it to expand its range of materials manufacturing beyond gypsum. And sadly, our Old Glory logo no longer waves from wallboard o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

TEI Analytical, Inc.

TEI Analytical, Inc.
An Industrial Testing Laboratory

TEI provides analytical testing and documentation for a wide range of industries for compliance with Federal regulatory agency requirements, as well as manufacturing quality control. TEI can delve as deeply as necessary into virtually any natural or industrial substance using traditional chemistry, high tech instrumentation or highly specialized analytical techniques.

Scientific companies tend to favor a simple, clean style in their graphics, in the spirit of letting the facts speak for themselves. DesignMarks took simplicity as a worthy goal, creating TEI’s signature T with three small squares and a single line.

“Other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one.” That’s Occam’s Razor, a principle of scientific investigation. Also logo design.

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

TEI Analytical, Inc.




Screen shot 2013-05-31 at 11.01.03 AM

TEI Analytical

Testing Lab Logo Refocused

Corporate and brand identity accrues and strengthens over time. So it’s important to keep as much continuity as possible for as long as possible. But change happens – in companies, markets and product focus. For DesignMarks, the challenge was to transition TEI’s established logo to accommodate new requirements – while preserving the essential identity and character of the logo.

Our designers started with the company’s established T-form, expanded it to a 3-dimensional block letter, then stacked the letters in deepening layers to give the logo a more dynamic character. And voila! The shaded sides of the letters resemble the vertical bars of a spectroscopic analysis display.

Perhaps we were lucky. We prefer to think it was good creative chemistry.

Posted in Home | Leave a comment