Monday, September 14, 2009

Enamel Pin Design: Graphic design for those collectable lapel pins.

Sometimes the designs that bring out the most “buzz” are those tiny enamel lapel pins developed for special events.  James Klein + Associates has worked with a number of companies such as the Orange County Transportation Authority and the Registrar of Voters to create collectable pins that are produced in limited quantities and handed out to dignitaries and poll workers.  The trick is fitting all the required information such as dates, logos and event names in a very small area while working under restrictive manufacturing constraints, being creative and making sure it is easily readable.


Each pin we create typically begins its life as an icon that we’ve design for use in print and electronic marketing material.  During the creative process, we plan ahead for the potential use of the icon as an enamel pin and develop design options that allow for a thin metal separation that serves as a barrier for the different colored enamel.  At times the gold or silver metal is used as a large patch of color, or texture is applied to the metal.


Our goal is to develop a cool-looking pin that is a visual extension of the marketing material developed for the campaign.  If it becomes collectable, that’s an added bonus.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not all winning proposals weigh this much!

I guess when you're asked to bid on a $5 million plus contract for a new high-tech transportation project in the state of Washington, it's not the weight of the proposal that counts, rather the content. Although there were page limits and tight specifications for the proposal, the DKS Associates bid was pound-for-pound the better submittal.  We helped the project team put a visual face on a hefty (and sophisticated) proposal using infographics and other additional organizational visuals to demonstrate solutions to complex problems.  More information can be found on our website.  No backs where thrown out in the preparation of the proposal.  Although we went through a can of midnight oil.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christopher Roddy. Concierge–Guardian Building, Detroit

Sure, you can walk into the Guardian Building in Downtown Detroit and realize that you've just entered a impeccably preserved example of Art Deco architecture, but what you really need, if you want the inside scoop, is a personal tour from the building's concierge that most of the tenants know by name—Christopher Roddy.  For years he has been manning the revolving doors at the entrance to this "cathedral to finance" on the corner of Congress and Woodrow, and passing along his knowledge of the building.  

I had the opportunity to spend 30 minutes with Christopher on my recent trip to Detroit and was given a basement to rooftop tour that included the massive basement vault that once held most of Detroit's fortunes, the impressive original 1929 board room, and a skyline view from one of the vacated offices on one of the highest floors.  But if you only make it to the lobby, you'll stand there, like I did, in stunned silence as one of the most spectacular examples of Art Deco architecture surrounded me.  And if that didn't fill your need to experience Detroit's finest buildings, there is the Fischer Building and the Penobscot as well.  

Thanks Christopher for a great tour!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seriously good food in the Fun Zone!

It happened early in the morning hours on Labor Day weekend.  While Shannon was preparing for another wonderful weekend of burgers, fries, caesar salads and minestrone soup, her new website was being uploaded to the server.  The launch of her new site was done in conjunction with James Klein + Associates, Clever Marketing and Ben May of Fresh Interactive.  The Bay Front Café promises "Seriously good food in the Fun Zone," and Shannon is taking her digital relationship to the community seriously as well.  Along with getting more information on the Bay Front Café website, you can also follow her on twitter, and join the restaurant's Facebook fan page.  In designing the site, we wanted to provide key information for this newly opened café while connecting people to the Fun Zone vibe in a playful way.  This was the first phase of a site that will continue to grow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Here's another survey...

Marketing experts tell us we live in a service economy. Today, major corporations continue to hone their service skills just to make sure they will surprise and delight customers at every turn. Their aim is to make us brand-loyal while the maddening crowd of competition lurks just a mouse-click away. And what's the quickest way to gauge how they're doing?...customer satisfaction surveys!

After working for years in the marketing field as a writer and designer, I applaud companies who want feedback from their customers, and use it to improve their products and services. But when those surveys become barometers for bonuses and salary compensation, the customer loses. Especially when they feel harassed into filling out the survey with glowing scores. I always bristle when I pick up my car after servicing at the dealership and receive a sales pitch to complete my customer satisfaction survey when it arrives in the mail...along some not so subtle encouragement to give them a high rating.

So when it was my turn recently to write a similar script for a home builder (who will remain nameless to protect my cash flow) I felt compelled to create a more honest version. Although it never saw the light of day, it was good therapy!

Dear New Homeowner:

As you probably know from other major purchases you have made, the sales and production team's compensation package relies heavily on the answers to the customer survey you will soon receive. Please don't take this letter as our way of begging for great marks so that we can keep our jobs, but in fact we're screwed if you don't give us a passing grade. So please take a moment to fill out the survey when it does arrive and make sure you give us the highest marks available on the survey. Remember, we know where you live...because we built your house.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Open wide and say ahhh...

Here's a first for James Klein + Associates, a corporate identity program for a dental office.  We worked with Clever Marketing to develop a fun approach to this Newport Beach dental office.  Although settling on just the right mark was like pulling teeth (sorry...), the results were surprisingly very Tommy Bahama.  The pineapple, the Hawaiian symbol for friendship, hospitality and welcome, was added to provide a different twist to a place that for most people is not high on their list to visit.  We used an existing font, then customized it to give the dentist's name a unique and recognizable look.  Our ultimate goal was to make sure that Dr. McKinley's corporate image focused on how a welcoming environment can make one's visit to the dentist a more comfortable and pleasant experience.  Next up on the Dr's to-do list are business cards, name tags, forms and a website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here's something Clever.

I always thought of Jann Rowe as a marketing person who was always up to something clever.  Little did I know that would eventually be the inspiration for her new marketing company.  Clever Marketing, based in Tustin, California, is a metaphor for how I have always thought of Jann, a person who looks for solutions that tickle people's imagination.  And that is why I am excited about developing her new corporate identity.  Instead of looking stuffy, we took her love of the mid-century modern aesthetic and ran with it.   The result is this circular logo, a color palette plucked from the pages of Atomic Ranch Magazine and a font based on the whimsical style of Alexander Girard.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

When a place feels right, even your toes know.

Driving north from Los Angeles my car started to beg for some sea air at the point where Highway 101 meets the coast in Pismo Beach.  The sand was smooth and peppered with sand dollars.  It was the perfect place to let my mind wander, and the sand tickle my toes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A company focused on your back-end

Finally a company that is worried about your back end.  I'm referring, of course, to the back-end programming for sophisticated websites and business enterprise software platforms.  James Klein + Associates, a corporate communications firm located in Irvine, California just finished the copywriting for Taigle's new website.  Taigle not only provides cutting edge expertise on the tools that work behind the scenes for financial and e-commerce sites, they deal in the world of mission critical software solutions that are the backbone of a company's operations.  You know, the kind of software systems that make grown adults cry if they ever fail.  Taigle's primary focus is on the healthcare, financial services and entertainment media sectors, but they promised to deal with my low-tech site if I ever get a break to redesign things.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

OCTA Annual Report hits the streets, freeways, Express Lanes, rail lines...

After months of hard work, design revisions, chasing bus and Metrolink passengers during the rush hour commute, and countless copy revisions, James Klein + Associates is proud to announce that the 2008 Annual Report for the Orange County Transportation Authority has finally hit the streets.  The theme, Concrete Results, speaks to the achievements the transportation agency made in 2008, including moving forward with important freeway projects during trying economic times.  In an effort to be economically, and environmentally sensitive the report was scaled down in size, and printed on an uncoated and recycled paper. A cool interactive version of the report (complete with animated page flips) is available online

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chihuly Glass exhibit in Scottsdale, a visual feast for your creative soul

In Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, she suggests that to rejuvenate your creative soul, you should take yourself on an "artist date" as much as possible.  I find myself sadly forgetting this treat most of the time.  However, on a recent trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, I discovered a wonderful art exhibit by the renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly in the heart of town at the Desert Botanical Garden.  The exhibit is called Chihuly: The Nature of Glass, and it weaves his breathtaking glass sculptures around some of the areas most dramatic desert scenery.  You'll find art imitating nature and towering saguaro cactus interacting playfully with the vibrant glass.  There are three, four-hour sessions each day to choose from.  If you want the most visual bang for your $15 admission fee, I recommend that you select the 4 p.m to 8 p.m. time slot so you can see the works of art in the dramatic late afternoon sun, and then at night when they are beautifully illuminated.  The exhibit will be at the Desert Botanical Garden through May 31st, and if you are craving a really cool "artist date," I highly recommend escaping to Scottsdale and enjoying this show.