Rand v Jobs: when egos collide

Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs is full of examples of the latter’s ‘challenging’ behaviour. But when Jobs asked Paul Rand to create the identity for his Next business, he finally met his match

Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs is full of examples of the latter’s ‘challenging’ behaviour. But when Jobs asked Paul Rand to create the identity for his Next business, he finally met his match

Isaacson’s book describes how Jobs, in 1986 and recently ousted from Apple, wanted a logo for his new computer business, Next. He decided to go for the best – Paul Rand. But Rand was contracted to IBM at the time. After pestering IBM senior management, Jobs managed to get their permission to use Rand and flew him out to California.

The Next was to be cube-shaped so Rand suggested the logo be so too. 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 (scan above, more at Imprint here) 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.”

Not only that, but he respected Rand for standing up to him, as this interview shows (spotted over at David Airey’s LogoDesignLove site). A lesson there for anyone presenting to clients? Perhaps, but Rand was 71 at the time and a globally-renowned expert in his field: not everyone could get away with it.

More design and advertising-related stories from Steve Jobs: the exclusive biography by Walter Isaacson (Little, Brown, £25) here

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