There are a dozen or more design trophies in the conference room of the Hansen Associates office on the corner of Third and Fir streets. There are silver microphones and Oscar-shaped statues on two shelves reaching to mid-thigh. Most are a dozen years old.
"When you win these awards, you have to pay for the trophies," said Ted Hansen, founder and CEO of Hansen Associates, a design and marketing firm. "We won so many awards, I stopped buying them."
He is not boasting, just stating a fact. Had Hansen continued buying the trophies, he would have paid for 27 material reminders of his firm's success. That's only since 1988.
Here's another fact: If you live locally, you've likely seen Hansen's designs and marketing products. He's designed the logos for Trophy's Sports Grill and San Diego Metropolitan Credit Union, information kiosks, the San Diego County Water Authority's annual report, letterhead, direct mail cable advertisements for Cox Communications, sales brochures, menus for the Windsock Bar & Grill, and many others.
Just about anything for which a design company can win an award, Hansen Associates designs. He even creates concepts that don't win awards, for lack of competition, like the 1996 Republican National Convention symbol.
- Designer Takes
Pride In RNC Logo
Since forming his company in 1972, the former teacher at El Cajon's Christian High School and community college professor has created more than 100 identities. The most rewarding by far, he said, was the RNC convention logo. Hansen's design was displayed prominently that summer and a lot of the pictures taken at the convention are making their way into history books now.
"It's nice to know your work doesn't have a shelf life," he said.
Saying "he" isn't a slap to Hansen's colleagues , it's the way they do business.
"I'm the CEO and the creative director, but I'm also the only account executive," Hansen said. "So we can say: 'When you work with Hansen Associates you work with the principal' and that's been part of our success, I think."
However, like any good design firm, real success is measured in customer satisfaction, and that's not always easy to achieve. He has been in business for 26 years, and occasionally works with committees. It can be a playground for squashing an ego, he said.
"I've seen person A like the design, but person B hates it because of person A," Hansen said. He uses a mix of instinct and psychology to find the best design to fit his clients. He makes it a policy not to force his ideas on the client, Hansen said.
"We try to partner with our clients so they think of us as an extension of their organization rather than we're coming in and telling them what to do," Hansen said. "When I work with a client, it's more like what do we want to do rather than what do I think you should do."
- Using Resources To
Their Fullest Potential
Hansen admits to stalling on finalizing a design concept for 24 hours so he can talk it over with his wife , a psychologist. Using all his available resources to their full potential is good business and how Hansen Associates has stayed in business for so long.
"I think sometimes in the design business people think success is based on 'I've got the most notable design or the most physical design out there,'" he said.
"However, I feel greater satisfaction having sold a group of people on a design that is able to get through, that is what I think is the best solution, yet all the people in there walk out thinking it is the best solution. That's selling. That's psychology. That's good design. That's good listening."