A local branding and communications design studio is staying strong—even in its 22nd year.
Owner of JamArtz Doug Katz gets personal with Patch in this week's Behind the Biz.
Patch: Why did you choose Encinitas to open your business?
Katz: My business decision was the natural outcome of a personal decision to relocate from the nation’s capital. After graduate school, marriage, raising a family, and running a business there for many years, my wife and I began looking for our next chapter. We’ve always loved the San Diego area, and once we resolved to look in earnest, Encinitas had no competition. It’s a perfect place to live and work. There is an exuberant artistic sensibility here...a wonderful fit for a small, full-service communication arts studio.
Patch: What distinguishes your business from others in the same industry?
Katz: I can think of two distinctions:
First, the studio’s philosophy is that noble public purposes can and should have a presence as inventive and clever as Apple’s, Nike’s, or Target’s. An initiative to protect victims’ rights should be promoted with as much style and know-how as the iPad. This is not the way most clients think when I first meet them. If I do my job well, however, they come to see the value of having a compelling and convincing corporate voice. What’s more, making an intelligent, professional, memorable mark in their marketplace isn’t nearly as expensive as they fear.
Second, over the past 22 years, clients have consistently described the studio’s art and copy as “clean,” “tasteful,” “attention-getting,” “sophisticated.” A person in my line of work can live for a week on compliments like that. That they’re expressed so often confirms for me that the clarity and uncluttered elegance of the firm’s designs are its cachet.
Patch: What are some of the current challenges you face as a business owner?
Katz: This simply is not a business that can be done by formula. My current challenge is the eternal challenge of my profession. That’s to create brandmarks, advertising campaigns, educational and marketing collateral, and fundraising communications that convey each client’s distinctive virtues and ambitions.
You can go to school to learn art, design, typography, and commercial writing. You can master all the latest graphic design software. You can purchase the slickest design templates. But capturing exactly the right esthetic and attitude for each client’s story? Well, there’s no manual for that. It’s a profession of “radical customization” requiring an intimate and well articulated understanding of each client. That’s the challenge.
Patch: What's the best business advice you've been given?
Katz: My father founded an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City in 1951. Over the decades, the firm became extraordinarily successful, winning clients and countless industry awards for its creative work. Soon after I started JamArtz, I visited him to discuss my plans and get some free advice. At one point he said, “Never walk past a client to get to a prospect. Your current clients are your most important business concern. Not those you don’t have, but those you do.” Years later, when I told him an international organization had given me a second assignment after I’d created a provocative promotional campaign for them, he said, “See? Growth though outgrowth. That’s the secret....” It worked for him, and it’s worked for me.
Do you own an interesting Encinitas business or know someone who does? We want to hear about it. Send an email to editor Marlena Medford at email@example.com.