Mason began, “The trade mark, which in the spacious days before the invention of the corporate image could afford to live in a measure of ornamental luxury, has today become a sharply functional thing, a bright weapon for the attack on the overworked and often sluggish attention of the public. Not only must it serve as the focal point of corporate design programmes: it is often the only medium through which large sectors of the public identify a company and its products at all.

“The design of a trade mark thus becomes an undertaking of the most exacting acuity. Such a mark ‘should be distinctive, memorable, and reflect in some way, however abstractly, the nature of the product or service it represents. Furthermore, it should be practical and easily adapted to a variety of applications. It should be reproducible in one or two colours, in positive and reverse form, and in sizes as large as building signs and as small as, or smaller than, calling cards.’”

At the time the article was written, Paul Rand’s client presentations involved large, custom-made booklets of 20 to 40 pages, given to 25 to 100 top-ranking executives. “Characteristically, Rand avoids what he calls ‘sound, music and lights presentations.’ Believing that ‘graphic designers are really silent salesmen’, he thinks that trade marks should convince by their own impact and quality.”

Paul Rand client logo presentation
Atlas Crankshaft Corporation (1964) and International Business Machines Corporation (1956).
Paul Rand client logo presentation
Ford (1966). “Although the new mark wasn’t adopted, its presentation remains an impressive example of the genre.”

A PDF of the six-page piece can be downloaded from the resources of Seattle-based Rationale. The full magazine issue is available from Graphis.

Related, from the archives, are some photos of the 100-page NeXT presentation that Paul Rand created for Steve Jobs, and a short video of Rand introducing his work to the NeXT team.

February 21, 2018

Comments

A one-option design would never fly with anyone today. But most of his designs are timeless and have stood the test of time. Rand’s basic credo should be embraced by all.

Well you have to understand these clients begged him to design their logos, so he gets paid regardless if they use it or not.

I love the simplicity, and the confidence here. We’ve recently taken to only providing our choice of outcome to our clients and it’s going well…so far!

My first idea is almost always my best idea. And I like to show two options. But I really, really dislike when clients insist I show three or more. Because then I have to come up with SOMETHING to fill out the third, fourth… And clients, with depressing regularity, tend to pick the most mediocre and clichéd of the options.

Two is quite sufficient to show legitimately different takes. One is better if the idea is sound.

We’ve tried all variations of the theme – 2 options, 3 options, 1 option, and the last we have found to be most successful: one well-developed presented option, with a page at the end of alternate concepts/work in progress. Clients feel good about the finished option we propose as the best option we as professionals recommend, and see that we put a lot of thought and work up until the point of getting there. Occasionally, clients will prefer something from the alternates, which is fine. I find a my-way-or-the-highway attitude to be poor business practice when it’s strong-armed at all costs.

“I find a my-way-or-the-highway attitude to be poor business practice…” Absolutely, Yael. Our work belongs to our clients. They need to live with what we create, seeing it every day for, ideally, decades.

Thanks for the responses. I understand the comments. I just believe that people (clients) in their humanness, need choices. It helps them feel they have buy-in and are a part in the creative process. Maybe this speaks to the controlled-oriented CEO or CMO. On the flipside, people like to also be led. So, I am going to try the one well-developed option next time. With alternates in tow.

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