Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New work abloom

No. 1 in Page's Principles is “Never do business with family and friends.”

The velvet shield …
Paul Page owns Page Design Group, a traditional graphic design firm in Sacramento that's been around long enough — more than three decades — to make Paul venerable.

His longevity stems, no doubt, from following his own principles, a copy of which I received when I took a graphic design business class from him back in the 20th Century. The dogeared copy is still tacked to one of my office bulletin boards.

Having done business with family and friends, and sustained the scars thereby, I can attest to Paul Page’s wisdom.

My inferred corollary to Principle No. 1 is, “If you must do business with family and friends, make it gratis.” It’s a risky inference: Though it may protect relationships, it’s no guarantee.

Also, it tends to countermand Page’s Principle No. 16 (and last), which Paul Page printed in boldface: “The main reason to be in business is to make money.”

It’s a good thing I don’t fool with Principle No. 1 too often.

The chosen one …
Such foolery has its perqs, though. Pro bono, for me, is a grown-up version of “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit,” to wit:

I deliver my best effort of a concept that I think suits my friend/client’s needs. Ordinarily, I would provide a wide variety of concepts (it depends on the outcome of a negotiated estimate); a Murphy’s Law of graphic design usually means a client will usually choose the solution you presented as the one so awful that the others shine by comparison.

My friend Suzanne came up with a business called Assured Communication Visiting Service. Her Website provides a more artful description, but the business provides surrogate visitation of adults in senior care residences, on behalf of the adults' families. She checks in on clients’ elderly adults, doublechecks their healthcare regimen, helps with correspondence, even entertains (Suzanne is a musician and a church music minister).

The pen accidentally dislodges a thought …
How to convey that in a logo? It was a puzzle that threatened to become a brick wall. The business has a cumbersome name, and the business idea is so unusual to me that I had a tough time pegging it to something visual. Then I put pen to paper and the solution emerged in less than a minute.

After a couple of words to jar loose some imagery, and just some go-to squiggles and jots (for some reason, I often draw a yin yang symbol to test whether it fits into the business concept), a flower emerged from my thumbnail sketches. The flower became a daisy, and the daisy chain soon followed.

The concept is ideal for Suzanne’s business (imho), because the chain implies communication and connection and continuity. It also evokes the parent-child relationship so often involved in this business transaction: The nostalgic nurture of parent to child, a responsibility that now reverses course. The flower represents a nurturing venture, and suggests a woman-owned business.

To ease the name’s burden, I suggested that “Assured” should play prominently, and “Communication Visiting Service” become secondary. Bottom line, clients want to be assured, on many levels.

Art Deco-ish …
Then I broke my own corollary and offered two variations on the concept, because I just can’t help myself. The first is a naturalistic, Art Deco-, Arts and Crafts-inspired idea that reminds me of the work poster artist David Lance Goines produces:

After toying for a long time with turning this chain into a Möbius strip, I left it as a simple chain; a princess' crown; a halo.

(Yeah, I got the name slightly wrong in this version; it's Communication Visiting Service.)

To offset this choice, I offered the same concept in a loose, juicy, calligraphic style (above).

That’s the one Suzanne chose, and based on that, I provided a bunch of variations, including the shield shape (top), and a single daisy; the chain would be cumbersome in all uses.

The different riffs on the logo create a family of images that Suzanne can use for self-promotion, primarily her Web-based marketing, which she is doing on her own.

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