– Paul Rand
I recently finished the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, and besides being an insightful look into the man, it’s full of really interesting stories relating directly to advertising and design. Classics like the “Think Different” campaign are in there, the story behind the best Super Bowl commercial ever, “1984”, and Jobs relationship with Lee Clow, well known creative director who was with Chiat/Day at the time.
But the one story that I laughed out loud at was the one involving Steve Jobs hiring the famous graphic designer Paul Rand to design the logo for NeXT, the company Steve Jobs started after Apple fired him. For any graphic designer that has ever been asked to design a logo, this is a story you’ll appreciate in a way only a designer can.
The Next was to be cube-shaped so Rand suggested the logo be that shape as well. Jobs agreed and asked to see some options. Big mistake. Rand didn’t do options.
“I will solve your problem and you will pay me,” he told Jobs. “You can use what I produce or not, but I will not do options, and either way you will pay me.” And it would cost $100,000.
Two weeks later, Rand flew back and presented his solution in the form of a book (see below for sample) walking Jobs through the rationale. Jobs loved it but asked for the yellow of the ‘e’ to be brighter. According to Isaacson, “Rand banged his fist and declared, ‘I’ve been doing this for fifty years and I know what I’m doing.’ Jobs relented.”
I can’t imagine saying that to a client, but Rand was 71 at the time and a world-renowned expert in his field: not everyone could get away with it. But I think the lesson is that Paul Rand did not respond to Steve Jobs like the average designer does, he had the guts to say something that not only convinced him with the brand’s logo design along with a 100-page brochure detailing the brand, but earned him $100,000.
“I will solve your problem and you will pay me” is how we’re answering the phone now.