Alan Siegel

Chairman Emeritus, Leadership, based in New York

Over the past four decades, Alan Siegel has become one of the best-known figures in the branding business and a driving force behind the plain English movement in the U.S. and abroad. He has achieved the stature of both pillar of the establishment and provocative iconoclast, while building a leading brand consultancy, Siegel+Gale, devoted to positioning global companies for competitive success. As consultant, author and teacher, Alan’s influence extends to advising such organizations as Xerox, American Express, the National Basketball Association, Caterpillar, 3M, US Air Force, Dell, The Girl Scouts, Phoenix House, the Legal Aid Society, Carnegie Mellon University and the New School; creating best-selling guides for the Wall Street Journal on understanding financial markets, and serving on the boards of numerous business, cultural and professional organizations.

During the 1980s he popularized the concept of “brand voice.” And in the 1990s, his firm championed the Internet as a powerful expression of brand strategy. In all he does, Alan is known for the plain speaking he demands of clients and for the excellence in individual and organizational communications that his own firm has come to embody.

Alan pioneered the development of plain English for complex legal documents for business and government in the 1970s and is considered one of the country’s leading authorities on business communications, bringing clarity to insurance policies, bank loan notes, mutual fund prospectuses and all types of government communications. Alan was the director of a project for the Internal Revenue Service to simplify U.S. individual income tax forms.

He has written extensively on branding and simplicity for the New York Times, Across the Board, and the National Law Journal and has appeared nationally on “Today,” “The McNeil-Lehrer Report,” and CBS and ABC News, CNN and the TED Conference.

One of the first graduates of the management training program at Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, a leading advertising agency, Alan was a senior account executive, served as secretary for the agency’s New Products Development Group, and helped establish the Communications Design Center, which handled corporate identity, packaging and sales promotion projects. He subsequently held executive posts at Ruder & Finn, public relations consultants, and Sandgren & Murtha, marketing and design consultants.

Alan served for six years as president of the Advisory Council for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University. He was an adjunct associate professor of law at Fordham University Law School for seven years, where he developed an innovative legal drafting course, “Writing Contracts in Plain English.” He also served as an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he taught, conducted research and was a founder and co-director of the Communications Design Center, a multidisciplinary graduate program focused on simplifying complex processes and communications. Alan served on the executive committee of the Document Design Project, which was funded by the National Institute of Education, a federal research agency. The National Endowment for the Arts appointed him to its Advisory Panel on Federal Graphic Design, and he has served on the editorial board of The Design Management Journal since it was founded in 1989.

A graduate of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Alan also attended New York University Law School, the School of Visual Arts and Alexei Brodovich’s Design Laboratory.

Currently, Mr. Siegel serves on the boards of the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University, the American Theater Wing, where he is a Tony voter, The Authors Guild Foundation, Inc., Lapham’s Quarterly, the Nathaniel Wharton Foundation at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, Business for Diplomatic Action, Turnaround For Children, Hamptons International Film Festival and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Formerly, Alan served on the boards of the European Chamber of Commerce in the United States, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Aperture Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art Photography Committee, the International Center of Photography, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the Design Management Institute and Girls Inc. (formerly the Girls’ Clubs of America).

Alan is the author of an extensive series of personal guides for the Wall Street Journal, including the bestseller The Wall Street Journal Guide to Money and Markets (Lightbulb Press), as well as Writing Contracts in Plain English (West Publishing) and Simplified Consumer Credit Forms (Warren Gorham & Lamont). He is also the author of One Man’s Eye: Photographs from the Alan Siegel Collection, which was published by Harry N. Abrams in October 2000, and Step Right This Way: The Photographs of Edward J. Kelty, published by Barnes & Noble in October 2002. Currently, Alan is writing Simple with his long-time colleague, Irene Etzkorn. In addition, Alan is a featured columnist for The Huffington Post.

In December 2006, Jorge Pinto Books published Alan Siegel on Branding and Clear Communications by Louis J. Slovinsky as part of its Working Biographies series.


June 3rd, 2013

How to improve any service by simplifying it

It may seem counterintuitive, but in a business environment that usually hypes “more, more, more,” people increasingly are opting for less. They’re responding to products with simpler feature...

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May 16th, 2012

The Design Leadership Series

Over the past forty years, Alan Siegel has become a simplification pioneer by bringing clarity to complexity. A branding innovator and trendsetter, he has changed the way companies and organizations communicate. Watch Alan present a series of groundbreaking design projects for nonprofits and governments that demonstrate how clear and effective communications can help them stand out from the crowd and realize their full potential. Register for the webinar here.

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Siegel+Gale's Brand development services

World-class brands don't happen by chance; they're built with purpose. Done right, strategy is creative and creative is strategic. We develop and implement brands that are elegantly simple and unexpectedly fresh.

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