In 1995 the Church decided to do something it hadn’t done before: hire a worldwide professional research firm to find cracks in the system. They called upon Wirthlin Worldwide, founded by Joseph B.’s brother, Richard. After exhaustive research was performed they came back with a list of those cracks. Top among them was the perception of outsiders that Mormons are not Christians.
My good friend and former professor Adrian Pulfer was the person chosen to perform the task of designing the new logo. In his first meeting with those of the Q12 brother Haight said, “The Lord is not pleased with how we’ve used His name.” He was suggesting what the research was suggesting, Jesus Christ needs emphasis. (This was known in 1982, at least enough to inspire the changing of the name of The Book of Mormon to The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.)
Adrian immediately went to his good friend Jonathan Hoefler, the typographer. The decision was made, much to the chagrin of Elder Ballard, to create a custom typeface. (the fee for a typeface was more than a few of the Apostles could handle, even though it was a bargain basement price from Jonathan, who can command into the upper five figures for a custom face. Adrian, however, soothed concerns and eventually sold them on the importance of a proprietary typeface for the Church and its brand).
The custom face that Jonathan created is based on the type from Trajan’s column in Rome. The column was created shortly after the life of Jesus Christ and is often considered the most perfect example of serif typography and the precursor to our visualization of the alphabet. Jonathan called the face Deseret (through his own research, by the way).
Adrian took this typeface and began to play with it. He knew it had to work in other languages (something the old logo utterly failed at), it had to reflect the mission of the Church, and of course Christ’s name had to be emphasized. A couple days after having shown some preliminary comps to the Q12, Adrian was driving to work when he gets a phone call from the Church’s spokesperson, “Adrian, it’s done.” “What do you mean it’s done” “The logo. You’re done.” “What do you mean I’m done. No I’m not, I am still working with it, there is still more to do.” “I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. They took the matter to the temple, they prayed about it. This is the logo”
A picture I took of Trajan’s column. Isn’t the Q gorgeous?