You see why people like me (and probably BrianSD) would not do design as a fulltime career eventhough we're madly in love with it. We think we have terrific taste and understand the principles of good design well (and trust me, there are some -but not many- OBJECTIVE rules of good design). But clients don't always agree and it's hard to convince them that logo 1 is better than the rest - I mean, in the end of the day, what could you say to them? For me there is absolutely absolutely no question that the first logo is the best.
I agree with everything you say here, except that I do plan to make my career in graphic design.
I talked to a man who was a typographer (one of the world's reknowned, actually). He designed the GE Logo, a high-end mattress company in Tokyo, Prudential, and Sea Smoke wine. Interestingly, in every instance except for Prudential, he was faced with that exact dilemma - the best designs were not the ones the client wanted. However, due to his qualifications and a way with words, he insisted on the proper design - although he had to make some modifications to satisfy the clients eye. Generally, a client will pick the *wrong* design, and it's tough in my job where I design for a gym, but my boss has no history in art and she's always asking me to do asenine things that are either trendy, or pretty and extravagant but almost never balanced and aesthetically beautiful. And I do agree, NewYorker, #1 of those is my favorite, although I think the font choice could be augmented with a slightly bolder face, and some tighter kearning, expecially between the thinner letterforms. It's also always hard to look at a logo out of context, because you have to be a truly excellent designer to achieve a logo that has the same balance, message and affect regardless of its placement and use. A logo should look as good in black and white (no grey) on a paper as it does in the corner of a website in blue. The Sotheby's logo is beautiful. It is not just Gill Sans, however, it's Gill Sans with perfect kearning, and with the text below it in all caps, which is perfectly lined up, creating an equilibrium of positive and negative space. Everything about it is impeccable, even when all it is is just text. I am rambling, but definitely enjoying this discussion.