It was reprinted in the March/April 1999 issue of Communication Arts, and with the recent happenings at iStock, it’s a reminder that cheap “design” is nothing new.

tree logo

Here’s part of the May/June 1975 issue of Herring Design Quarterlies.

Stock Trade Marks

Dear corporation president, public relations director, or agency art buyer: Are you in need of a dynamic new image to replace the smoking smoke stacks you or your client is now using as a trade mark? Well, I’m sure the answer to that question is YES! But you’re hesitant to act because of the time, expense and uncertainty of selecting an image to represent you or your client.

That is precisely why Herring Design Studio of Houston, Texas has gone to the effort of preparing this collection of Stock Trade Marks. Long a leader in the design of trade marks and logotypes, HDS now draws on this vast experience to offer trade marks that are not only inexpensive, but can be used for almost any company.

So why not order a trade mark today? You may want to order one for yourself and all your subsidiaries.

When ordering specify the full name of the company and whether you want the trade mark centered over the name or to the right side. All the designs are available in black, green and blue. A few are available in red. Allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

The World Trade Mark
Very versatile, although you should have at least one out-of-state office.
globe logo

The Arrow Trade Mark
For companies on the move, on the way up, or on the go. Specify if you are going straight up or to the right.
arrow logo

The Star Trade Mark
Perfect for those doing movie, government, or occult work. Special clearance needed to use in red.
star logo

The Modern Trade Mark
Can be interpreted in many ways. An ideal choice when dealing with a committee.
modern logo

The Tree Trade Mark
A must for a real estate project. Goes real well with woodsy names like Oakmont or Pinesap Apartments.
tree logo

Communication Arts page spread

You can view the full Communication Arts spread in this PDF: Stock Trade Marks (0.5mb)

Via James Bowie (thanks, James).


I remember this too! But not from 1975. Late 80s, early 90s it was when a collage professor showed it to me. So apropos to the current state of our industry! Love it!

It’s too smart and too hilarious! I like especially the Nazi Swastika hidden in the “Modern Trade Mark”. But now we have the internet, that makes thins lot more slippery.

This is an interesting insight into past design concepts, and is an interesting read considering all the fuss currently ongoing about iStock selling logos. Of course selling logos back in 1975 must have been a completely different task than selling them today on the internet, but some of the same issues are raised.

I’m sure back when this was published, designers were reacting to the idea of cheap stock logos similarly to today. There must have been talk of it ruining the industry, cheapening design and a fear that professional logo design would become obsolete. We should all take note that none of these were realised of course, and the industry carried on unaffected. Maybe with this in mind we should take reassurance that the whole iStock issue is nothing new, and it has all happened before without consequences, and the same will happen in this 21st century version of the Herring Design pamphlet!

Hand-written letters are a lost art, Jeff.

Stephen, too young to comment on selling identity design back then, but I reckon it hasn’t changed as much as you think, still focusing on the decision-maker, dealing with committees, working to control chat in the presentation. I agree about the reassurance, though. Nothing new.

I have a blog post about this as well. Long story short, Jerry Herring was my next door neighbor’s uncle; I remember he’d tell her how amazed he was at the responses back then and how companies would call and ask for pricing. It was, of course, all done tongue in cheek and sent out to the firm’s friends (the original mailing lists!). Clearly, not all were in on the joke.

This is brilliant! Very funny. Herring completely hits the nail on the head when he mocks that they ‘can be used for almost any company’. This is exactly the problem with any kind of cheap ‘stock’ logo design – the client is ending up with something generic, bland and meaningless. Hopefully companies looking for a true ‘brand identity’ will realise that this can’t be achieved through sources such as iStock – the mechanic and the florist in the village would regret it when they both end up choosing the same ‘mark’. Also, surely this whole iStock thing is going to end in huge lawsuits when professionally designed logos are ripped off. The essence of a trademark is that it is unique, bespoke and communicates what the product or company is all about. What iStock is doing is taking advantage of those companies who do not realise the important of this.

Haaa I love this kind of stuff!! If I’m honest one of my guilty pleasures is to see the use of blatantly obvious graphic marks, I’ve always thought there’s a place for it as sometimes a project cries out for you to use one. Personally, not a fan of the istock move, stupid ass idea and can’t see how that’s even gonna work, adds more fuel to my hatred of ready made graphics, like all these vector packs that give companies the ammo to produce so called ‘amazing tee shirt designs’.

My name is Woods and yep, I did a ton of logo ideas using trees, not because I had no ideas but because, like I say, I love blatantly obvious ideas sometimes, especially if done well.

I didn’t stick with it though.

Nice Suggestive Selling on Herring’s part. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who caught the subliminal swastika sign in the “Modern Trade Mark”. Where is the creativity? Great article!

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