Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seal of Approval

One hundred years ago, the Good Housekeeping magazine first published research on approved products for the modern homemaker. They went on to create an Experiment Station in 1900 to study food and household products against false advertising claims. The approved products were listed on an honor role. In 1909 a new testing facility with a model kitchen and domestic science laboratory was built as the Good Housekeeping Institute. The list of tested and approved products and machinery was published in December 1909 with the first seal of approval.
A version of the first seal design was in use until 1941, when the magazine added the guarantee that if a product was not as advertised, a replacement or a refund would be provided to the consumer. The appearance of the seal changed several times over the next six decades of consumer protection as the wording of the promise evolved.

To celebrate the big anniversary and the 1911 purchase by the Hearst Company, Louise Fili, the very talented and prolific graphic artist, book cover designer, food product designer and restaurant and logo designer, was brought in to update the Good Housekeeping seal.

A recent New York Times article quoted the designer on this project. "The thing about doing any kind of redesign of something that well known,” Ms. Fili said, “is that you have to keep at least one element so people can make the leap. In this case it was the oval and the star, so not just the baby boomers would be able to recognize it.”

Her redesign was so convincingly timeless that there was a little confusion on the Today show where the blue and red 1990s seal was mixed up as the newer one and her design referred to as the old design. Fortunately, she took it as a compliment.

Images courtesy of Good Housekeeping and the New York Times.

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