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Who Influenced the Influencers?

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In advertising, pretty much everyone has been influenced by someone else. As we’ve been bringing you stories about ad legends like Bill Bernbach and George Lois, we stumbled onto a guy who influenced both. Paul Rand (not to be confused with Rand Paul) is well known for his logo work for companies like UPS, ABC, IBM, and Steve Jobs’ NeXT — the company he formed after being removed from Apple

Rand played a crucial role in developing the concept of corporate identity. He emphasized the importance of maintaining a consistent visual identity across all company communication aspects, including logos, stationery, packaging, and advertising materials. His approach helped companies establish a cohesive and recognizable brand image.

He was also one of the first American commercial artists to embrace and practice the Swiss Style of graphic design.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.”

Bernbach’s epiphany.

The following is an excerpt from an interview with George Lois:

“Paul was very suspicious of Bill, but after a while, we’d be working on stuff, and before anyone wanted him to work on it, Paul would say, ‘Hey, I got a headline.’ He had it all figured out. But Bill would say something like, ‘Gee, Paul, I like what you’re doing. Maybe instead of saying blah, blah, blah’ you should say it this way and … Here’s a little piece of copy maybe you could use.” And Rand started saying, ‘Hey, he’s really helping me. That’s good, you know?’”

He continued:

“Of course, what Rand understood was, when you work with a graphic communicator, the advertising can be better — Duh! No shit. But it was an epiphany to Bill Bernbach. An epiphany! Because before that, he, like the rest of the world, would write copy like a copywriter and go to the art director’s room, and the art director was sitting in a room with his thumb up his ass waiting for a piece of copy so he could do a layout. So Bill’s epiphany in the ‘50s was that he began to understand great advertising is not a copywriter working by himself — almost never, actually — but that a copywriter working with a gifted art director could make magic.”

Of course, this epiphany led Bernbach to revolutionize the ad industry by pairing writers with art directors to collaborate and solve problems.

Modernizing graphic design.

Rand embraced modernist principles in his work, focusing on simplicity, clarity, and functionality. He rejected excessive ornamentation and emphasized using clean lines, geometric shapes, and negative space. His minimalist aesthetic and innovative typography set new standards in graphic design, influencing generations of designers, including George Lois.

“Everything is design. Everything!”

What’s NeXT?

When Steve Jobs started NeXT, after his ouster from Apple, someone recommended he get in touch with Paul to inquire about logo design. The interaction between Rand and Jobs was legendary. First, Rand charged Jobs $100,000 to do the logo. Jobs agreed and asked if he could see several options. Paul said no. He said he would solve Jobs’ design problem, and he would only get one option. Take it or leave it, but Paul was still getting the $100K. Jobs agreed and, from all accounts, was happy with the result and the 100-page book explaining why the logo worked.

C360 Paul Rand NeXT Logo

“In essence, it is not what it looks like, but what it does that defines a symbol.”

Eye candy. 

Here are just a few logos and ads we’ve pulled together for readers to get an idea of Rand’s style — mostly simple, beautiful, and clean designs.

Got $100K?

If you do, we’ll happily design your logo. Heck, we might even give you more than one option and a 90% discount. Just contact us to get started.

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Ed Sharp

Ed brings 15 years of traditional and digital media sales experience to the agency, giving us a perspective most agencies don’t have. When he’s not working or seeking new knowledge, Ed hangs out with his wife, two kids, two dogs, one cat, and a hamster. And yes, the cat and hamster are best friends.

Chaney Given

Chaney is a talented and accomplished designer and illustrator, who has expanded his skill set to include motion graphics and video editing. With nearly a decade of experience, his client work includes Waterstep, Baptist Health, the Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Schools, First Harrison Bank, and many more