Civil Defense Logo Dies at 67, and Some Mourn Its Passing
By DAVID W. DUNLAP, New York Times, 1 December 2006

The Civil Defense symbol, left, born in 1939 and familiar to generations of Americans, has been replaced by an emergency management logo.

The stark insignia of civil defense - a C and D forming a red circle in a white triangle on a blue disk - died yesterday after a long eclipse. It was 67 years old and lived in the mind's eye of anyone who remembers air-raid drills, fallout shelters and metal drums filled with what had to be the stalest biscuits in the world.

Its demise was announced by the National Emergency Management Association, the group that represents state emergency managers.

The CD insignia, which the association called "a relic from the cold war," was eulogized by Richard Grefe, the executive director of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

"The old mark fits in the same category of simplicity and impact occupied by the London Underground map," Mr. Grefe said.

Tom Geismar, a principal in Chermayeff & Geismar Studio, a design firm, said the insignia was "authoritative and appropriate for the serious work" of civil defense.

The insignia was born in 1939, said Michael Bierut, a partner in the Pentagram design firm. Its father was Charles T. Coiner, the art director of the N. W. Ayer advertising agency, who also designed the National Recovery Administration's blue eagle.

The CD insignia was called anachronistic in 1972 by the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, successor to the Office of Civil Defense. "The image was World War II vintage," the agency said.

The EM symbol was endorsed by R. David Paulison, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, successor to the civil preparedness agency. He attended the announcement in Washington.

The new image was developed by Morrie Goodman, an emergency communications specialist and the managing director of AGG International, a marketing firm.

Mr. Goodman said he first tried to update the classic triangle, using EM initials, but wound up with something that looked like the America Online logo. He was then directed by the association to take a fresh approach. In it, the letters EM and the words Public Safety and Public Trust are wreathed in blue and gold arcs, symbolizing movement, and three gold stars, standing for the local, state and federal levels of disaster preparedness and response.

"We now have a new symbol of what our profession is all about," Mr. Goodman said.

Mr. Geismar sounded less sure. He said the stars and swooshes seemed "more appropriate to an upstart airline."

The CD insignia is survived by countless metal drums, still languishing in school basements, with biscuits that have grown even staler.

"I will now go cry for Charles Coiner," Mr. Bierut said.