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Jon Contino on designing his personal identity

The following is an excerpt from Build Your Own Brand, a new book by Robin Landa. The excerpt is Jon Contino sharing thoughts about designing for himself.

Jon Contino identity

Creating a personal identity has always been something that’s plagued me. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard another designer say otherwise. It’s one of the toughest things to do.

Normally you’re taking the concept of a company and breaking it down into simple little pictures, but in the case of self-branding, you need to critique and comment on yourself in one simple mark.

How do you summarize your entire life with that one mark?!

Jon Contino identity

The concept for my personal branding came out of a pure “who cares” attitude. I was doodling one day while watching a Yankees game and sketched a baseball with the words “New York” on the top and bottom, and “Yankees” stretching across the middle. I had seen similar designs plenty of times before, but I was getting a good vibe from this.

I played with it a bit and came up with something completely nonsensical and yet completely right. The same concept of a baseball, except with all my junk in there instead.

Once I had the mark down, I decided on using a dark navy and yellow gold to define the color of my brand. This palette is based on the old New York state license plates I had loved so much as a kid, and as such, represented everything I remembered from my childhood, but with a sense of history and persistence that comes along with being born in one of the original 13 [colonies].

Jon Contino identity

From there, I began developing minor alternate marks, all with similar histories, and I’m able to use them each for different and unique purposes while still maintaining that semblance of a united brand identity.

Jon Contino identity

Jon Contino logo

Build Your Own Brand was published in July 2013 by HOW Books.

Build Your Own Brand

Follow Robin Landa and Jon Contino on Twitter.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

8 appreciated comments

  1. Nice. Personal branding is indeed … tough. I don’t know many designers who have maintained a single brand look for more than a few years at a time. We tend to bore of our own look faster than our clients bore of the work we construct for them.

    It’s our transient desire for change.

  2. I’m taking Jon’s class on Skillshare right now. I love his work and he’s also an amazing teacher.

  3. Don

    I really enjoy the rough-edged look of Jon’s work. It’s very recognisable & very cool! Good feature, David!

  4. Totally agreed, designing for one’s self is indeed a selfish and never ending process in the search for perfection. As a designer, working amongst new ‘trends’ sometimes leads to the desire to subtly change some aspect of our brand identity, but, just like a company rebrand, I only think a ‘personal’ rebrand should be considered if something has become stagnant in our career, or something big enough has happened to warrant that change in identity.

  5. I luckily was able to create my persona rather quickly. Some things I struggle with, math for sure, but some things come easy. I only do naming and identity design… this may play a part.

  6. Love this style of design/typography. Rustic, rough, vintage-esque lettering with added touches of modern style. Very big fan!

  7. …looks like Jack Daniels to me, agreed?

  8. What I admire about Contino’s work is that he harmonizes both his craftsmanship as a typographic illustrator and cultural allusions that stem from his youth living in New York.


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