It was through the Identityworks.com website that I became familiar with Tony. His site (now only through archive.org) was a trove of logo and identity news and resources until around 2014 when the domain was transferred to someone else. He passed away last month at the age of 86 in his home in Rye, NY.

Tony studied architecture at Princeton and received his Masters in Business Administration from Harvard. In 1965 he joined the pioneering identity firm Lippincott & Margulies (now Lippincott), learning and contributing to the new identity profession in its formative years. Ever since, his work (however diverse) has been identity-centered.

In subsequent years he practiced marketing management in a variety of industries: in packaged goods, as a product manager in American Home Products’ food division; as a consultant to the supermarket industry on private brand management; as a consultant to account management and clients of NW Ayer advertising; and as a corporate vice president and director of marketing of several Citibank business units.

In 1985, he rejoined colleagues from 1965’s L&M, who were then the principals of the identity firm Anspach Grossman Portugal. He served as the firm’s marketing director and as a consulting principal, supervising such client engagements as Pfizer and American Express. In addition, Tony reorganised the firm’s naming capability, which during his time produced such names as Navistar, Optima, Signet, Trinova, Ecolab, and (Ford) Explorer.

He established his practice as an independent identity advisor in 1990, serving companies directly, as well as teams within communications and graphic design firms. Clients included the likes of Ambac, Caterpillar, Commonfund, Dow Jones, Eastman Chemical, Footstar, Flowserve, General Signal, JP Morgan, Malden Mills, Orbital Sciences, Outward Bound, and Sony.

Tony lectured for Harvard Business School, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Design Management Institute, and other professional audiences, and wrote on identity matters for Adweek, Design Management Journal, and the Conference Board’s Across The Board.

He was the loving husband of Ann for more than 60 years. She survives him, as do their four daughters, two grandsons, and three great-grandchildren.

At the time of writing, the tools page of Identityworks is still available (as are many others).

Thank you for all you did, Tony. You were always kind and gracious with your praise, and your work had a significant impact on my earlier years in the profession. Rest in peace.

Comments

David, Thank you so much for posting Tony’s obituary on Logo Design Love.

My introduction to Tony Spaeth was through his yearly review of corporate identities in Conference Board’s Across the Board in the 1980s when I was at Landor in San Francisco.

Much of what was published on corporate identity at that time was either from the perspective of the actual companies or the firms that created the work, but Tony had the advantage of being independent. He critiqued from multiple perspectives – business, strategic, and design – and his reviews were engaging, informative, and honest. Tony didn’t hold back if he felt an opportunity had been missed but he was aways respectful in his commentary.

The Conference Board reviews were treasured and passed around by designers. I’m sure I still have copies in my archives. The launch of Identityworks provided a broader and more frequent assessment of corporate identity.

After I set up my firm in 2004, I finally met Tony in person and he invited me to work with him on several projects. We travelled to Moscow to work on an identity project for Texenergo. He had given presentations in Moscow and it was heart warming to see the admiration and respect he garnered from designers, entrepreneurs, and clients.

On a regular basis, Tony and I would meet for lunch in NYC with other identity designers including Joe Finocchiaro, Roger van den Bergh, and Bob Wolf. We enjoyed exchanging stories about our past experiences and the evolving state of corporate identity.

In the last year we turned that experience into a weekly Zoom|Identity discussion. Tony brought his insights and good nature to our group until shortly before his passing.

We all miss Tony.

I had the career-altering pleasure of working with Tony on large rebranding projects for a few years. Rarely does a workday go by when something he said or taught me isn’t recalled and put to use. Simply a wonderful, gentle and brilliant person. RIP.

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