In his Graphis article (in issue 153), titled “How Paul Rand Presented Logos to Clients,” 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. Head to Graphis for the full magazine issue 153.

Related, from the archives, is a look at the 100-page NeXT presentation that Paul Rand designed for Steve Jobs, with a short video of Rand introducing his work to the NeXT team.


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.

Not true… I’ve always only given clients a one-option design. It just depends on how it’s all presented. From concept to the eventual proposal. Taking a client on the journey through x,y,z moments of decisions etc.

I do the ‘one-option only’ logo design. Designers generally find solutions to visual problems. And there should ideally be only one answer to a particular problem. If a designer does present more than one option to a client, I think she or he is not confident enough to justify his position on any of the options presented in the first place. It’s the designer’s job to rule out what won’t work and find out the one best and the only solution for his clients. At the end of the day, we all want that one golden partner to love and love us back. Would you have multiple partners? Or would you want to select from a pool of many?

It doesn’t matter if you are Paul, Saul, or Massimo, if you’re a designer, your one solution is the answer to the question. Stand behind it. Like a rock. Good luck.

I have successfully presented one logo design option and got it approved. The key is letting the client know beforehand that you, as a designer, know best what suits for his business and anything that you create and present comes through thorough research and tests. Do your best and believe in it. Let the client know how you arrive at your masterpiece.

You can check some of my work here:

It depends on how you work and can you afford to work like that. If you tell your client they get only one proposition, they can stay or go to someone else, who will give them 5 propositions (usually 1 good and 4 other poorer option to make it 5). The question is, are you in a position to work as you want (devote yourself to the single proposition) or how the client wants you to work? Clients have to be familiar with a designer’s portfolio, so everybody is on the same page with aesthetics, then you need to spend 2-3 hours on brief. Then you spend 2 months working on single proposition which can be modified then but only in a way of an evolution, not revolution. It always works.

Unfortunately that is often true. However, one option can work great.

The right client wants you to solve their problem, not give options (though these are not always mutually exclusive). Nine times out of ten this has worked great for me for years. If it doesn’t work out, go back to your “spare tires”.

If you approach it with that mindset, it’s about finding the right solution, not XX number of potential solutions. Just make clear to the client that you seek to only show the best of the best to them in an effort to not waste their time. If something else great shows up, show it to them.

Beyond that, really work hard to find the best narrative of telling the story of WHY your design approach is the best for them. As George Lois once said “Good design is 1% inspiration, 9% perspiration, and 90% justification”

This shouldn’t be dogmatic, but rather pragmatic.

I present only one logo option to clients, and I have been working this way since I went fully independent in 2014. And I have an extremely high success rate. Some have crashed and burned, but most have not only succeeded, but have been approved with zero changes. It’s all about the presentation and how effectively you can sell an idea to a client. In my personal experience, presenting, say, three options projects a lack of confidence in the work. My clients hire me because I’m a specialist, and I put a tremendous amount of time and energy into research and sketches to arrive at my final designs. And when I present to them, I present the culmination of all this effort; I present *THE* perfect solution, and I do so with utter conviction. My presentations are meticulously crafted to demonstrate the effectiveness of my solutions, and always reference key points established — and agreed upon — in discovery sessions and the creative brief. And I know several other designers/branding specialists who work this way. It’s atypical, for sure, but it does happen, and it does work.

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, too. They’ll spend more time looking at what we create than we will.

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.

I want to see his contract, because that’s where the client signed off on hiring him under the condition that they only get one design, and no revisions!

In creativity, there is never one right answer. There are many ways to express a thought. So while going with a single option shows conviction, taking more than one doesn’t mean less creativity. If you have more than one convincing route, I would take both. Or three if there are three.

I enjoy looking at the layout of his designs. They’re nice and slick and simplistic. The art of his selling process was in making sure the client could actually envision his logo on things that are very public to the human eye.

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