Tony Spaeth, corporate identity pioneer, 1934–2021
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.