There’s an Aesop’s Fable about the sun and the wind having a competition to see who could get a man to take his coat off. The wind went first, but the harder it tried and the more unpleasant the weather got, the man just wrapped his coat tighter around. Then it was the sun’s turn. It shone brightly, made the weather warm and pleasant, and the man removed his coat.
I was reminded of the tale with the news that the fast food chain McDonald’s is currently at loggerheads with the council over attempts to erect an eight-foot sign on Southampton Road. One of the (many) things I like about living in Salisbury is the way you see the spire in the distance well before you reach the city itself. As a letter to the Journal mentioned, the city would have a different feel if you’re welcomed by a pair of golden arches.
In my column last week, I talked about the challenge that local independents faced against the might of larger chains. One answer is to follow the example of Aesop’s Fable – and use warmth, wit and humour instead of legal bluster.
This week, I spoke to the hugely talented local illustrator Neil Smith, who talked about his designs for a different logo – the newly installed emblem for Culture Coffee on Fisherton Street.
Culture Coffee’s logo is a thing of beauty. Neil talked about the influence of Picasso’s The Bull for designers – a series of eleven lithographs that take the image of a bull from an anatomically correct version down to the essence of the creature in a few simple lines. It’s a sequence that Apple use in its training programme for new employers. And it was in the back of Neil’s mind for this logo too: he started with the distinctive cup Culture Coffee serves its coffee in, distilled it down, and then added the ‘C’ in the wisp of steam.
Other local shops use text to get their message across instead.
Further down Fisherton Street, the adult store Erotica Belle responded to the council blacking out its shop front with witty words across its window.
Up Castle Street, the ever-changing boards outside the George and Dragon pub always raise a smile.
I caught up with Salisbury-based copywriter and author Andy Maslen (whose new thriller, Hit and Run is just out), and asked him the secret to good text. ‘The best tap into a deep-seated motivation in their customer’s mind,’ he explained. Humour, he added, works particularly well, because ‘human beings like playing.’ Great copy and design needn’t cost the earth.
In Salisbury, we are lucky to have some of best practitioners in the country on our doorstep.