Steve Jobs was a very particular businessman. Depending on who you ask, they will tell you that he was a persistent visionary and innovator, a charismatic and controversial leader, or A combination of these and other characteristics that defined his curious personality.
What we know, from the facts that have been released, is that he had an extraordinary ability to persuade people and, almost always, tried to get things done his way. However, as our Applesfera colleagues say, this was not always the case.
The solution to a problem that cost $100,000
In the mid-1985s, Jobs left Apple. The businessman was Outside the company which he himself had founded together with Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne. However, he had founded a new company called “Next”, which was taking its first steps.
The project was intended to sell workstations intended for the educational field and not for general users (as a way of not intervening in Apple’s business). But, at the same time, I wanted it to have a logo as identifiable and unique as Apple’s.
According to Walter Isaacson’s account in the businessman’s biography, Jobs wanted a high-quality, high-level logo. To achieve it, he did not come up with a better idea than turn to paul randone of the most prominent business logo designers of the time.
The man was behind such famous logos as those of Esquire magazine, the IBM computer firm, the American television network ABC and the UPS courier service. At the time, according to Jobs, he was the ideal professional to create the logo for his new Next company, but a big problem quickly arose.
The NeXT logo and a potential conflict of interest with IBM
Rand had created the IBM logo, so the fact that the designer worked for Apple could generate a conflict of interests since they were two companies of the same category. Before Rand could move, IBM had to give the go-ahead.
It was in these kinds of moments that Jobs stood out. The businessman moved heaven and earth to convince the computer giant. First, he tried to contact John Akers, the head of the firm, by telephone, but was unsuccessful.
At his insistence, he managed to speak with the vice president of IBM, Paul Rizzo, who after a couple of days came to the conclusion that trying to resisting Jobs’ request was wasted time. Thus, IBM gave the go-ahead for Rand to work for Next.
With this first victory, Jobs met with Rand and asked him to give him several options for him to choose from. The designer’s response was direct and forceful: “I will solve your problem and you will pay me. You can use what I produce or not, but I will not present several options, and in any case you will pay me.
Let’s remember that the co-founder of Apple was characterized by being unpredictable. He could reject Rand’s behavior completely or be delighted. In this case the latter happened. According to Isaacson, Jobs felt identified with that reasoning. To him, he was dealing with a person with a “tough exterior” with a curmudgeonly image who was “like a teddy bear” on the inside.
The amount of money Jobs had to shell out, however, was not insignificant. While it wasn’t a fortune, it was $100,000 that he had to pay whether he liked Rand’s work or not. So, as we say, the businessman accepted and Rand submitted his proposal two weeks later.
The design notebook featured several pages describing the process the designer had followed leading up to the final logo found on the last page. What was there then? An informal-looking, tilted cube whose word Next was divided into two lines and the letter “e” was lowercase.
Jobs got up from the table and hugged Rand. He agreed with the proposal almost in its entirety. He disagreed with the idea of using a brighter color in the “e” of the logo. The talented (and headstrong) designer responded: “I’ve been doing this for fifty years and I know what I’m doing.” Surprisingly, Jobs accepted it and did not insist.
As you might imagine, Rand’s work became the official NeXT logo (which happened to have a lowercase “e”). Unfortunately, the company’s performance was less than ideal and its products were commercially disappointing, but its essence was a great resource for Apple, which bought it in 1997 and marked Jobs’s return to the Cupertino company.
Images: Bernard Gotfryd | Apple (Wikimedia Commons)