One of the reasons West Kent Towers is so successful is the two people who work there complement each others strengths and weaknesses.
Jon is detailed and thorough; perhaps a touch pedantic; never happier than when he is maintaining the membership database, updating the standing order spreadsheet or balancing the petty cash. Whereas I live in a world of creative chaos, constantly re-inventing the wheel and challenging the status-quo. The former chairman of Chatham and Aylesford once said, "your problem Andrew is you cannot see a sleeping dog without poking it with a stick to see how angry it will be when it wakes up." I wish I could disagree!
This different approach comes to the fore when we have a leaflet to design. Like today.
AK: Jon, we must get going on the Borough-wide newsletter.
Jon: "OK, what's it about?"
AK: Oh I don't know. Let's not worry about the words, we must focus on the design concept. I want it to give the message of change; grab the season - spring - new hope and optimism.
AK: A bit like crocuses and daffodils poking through the snow. I want it to draw a line in the sand, use the onset of spring to focus on hope and change.
Jon: "You want it to focus on the crocus?"
AK: Figuratively, Jon.
The first stage is what I call "designing the coat hanger". This is the basic design into which the MP / PPC and local councillors can "drop in" their local copy. Depending on the constituency there can be up to 35 editions, further complicated by the fact that constituency boundaries cross borough boundaries, so the borough council words must change as well as each ward.
So begins the long and tortuous process of "designing the coat hanger" working from a rough sketch scribbled on paper along with my verbalised "design concept".
AK: I want the leaflet to reach out Jon.
JB: "What do you mean by that?"
AK: It must reach out and welcome in. The banner must be vibrant and grab hold of the reader.
Jon: "It's a bit of paper"
AK: Oh Jon, you're such a Philistine!
Slowly and painfully it takes shape as we bicker over every line, dot and comma.
AK: That's looking really good Jon, but I am not sure the sub-headlines.
Jon: "What's wrong with them?"
AK: They're the wrong shade of green.
Jon: "Green's green. They're green - you said you wanted them green, that's what they are."
AK: No, no, no Jon. I said I wanted it to convey hope and optimism and the spirit of spring. That's the wrong green. That's mushy-pea green, not hopeful green. Can we try different shades of green?.
At this point tempers start to fray and Jon gets snippy (not that I blame him).
Jon: "Is this one better?" "What about this shade of green, does that suit you?" "How about this shade, does that fit in with the 'integrity of your design concept'...?
AK: Now you're being sarcastic.
Finally, by random selection and a stroke of luck we find the right shade of green
AK: That's it Jon, perfect.
Jon: "It looks the same as all the other shades of green to me."
Now comes the detail.
AK: I'm not sure about Tom Tugendhat's position of the page. I was hoping he would be standing in front of the solid green line.
Jon: "He is"
AK: No he isn't. He's more plonked on the green line than standing in front of it.
Jon: "Look, he is in front of the line."
AK: No he isn't. I can still see the white surround. It needs to be transparent.
Jon: "How do you do that?"
AK: Oh, I don't know. Try clicking on Tools. Click there, no there, try that three up from the bottom, no up, you've gone too far. Go back, go back."
Jon: "I can't see where you're pointing, your hand is in the way."
Finally, the page comes to life. Between us we have created a document which conveys the hope of the coming season. It reaches out and welcomes in. It has the perfect shades of green and most importantly Tom Tugendhat in standing in front of the solid green line.
Now all we have to do is nag 50 recalcitrant councillors to provide their copy, correct the spelling and grammar, edit the words to fit into the space, airbrush their photographs, produce 35 different editions, arrange for 45,000 copies to be printed and folded and then send it to the branches for delivery. But that's all quite simple by comparison!
Here was my original sketch
And here is the final product. As I said at the top...
"it's all about the integrity of the design concept!"