The Family Business: Jim Alcott's Story

Posted by Jim Alcott on Jan 10, 2017 10:51:16 AM
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People often ask me how I got into this business, so I thought I'd share a little bit of my family's story and how it led to what Alcott Marketing Science has become today. 

My father was a graphic designer—back before the computer—when there were far fewer graphic designers, and folks needed an explanation of exactly what one was. His father was one as well, so while I’m not a designer myself, my work has been a continuation of my family’s involvement in the marketing and agency business. 

John Eagles Alcott Sr., my grandfather, was best known for his design and branding work for Howard Johnson’s restaurants. He created the "Simple Simon and the Pie Man" logo in the 1930’s, which proved to be just the beginning of a thirty-year creative partnership with the iconic chain encompassing every facet of the restaurant from exterior appearance, to the interior décor, menus, placemats, and the like. 

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My grandfather also designed the Massachusetts exhibit for the 1938-39 World’s Fair in New York. When WWII interrupted the production of consumer goods and advertising, he shifted his energies to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where he taught and chaired departments for both Advertising and Industrial Design.  

My father, John Eagles Alcott Jr., studied under his father at RISD and joined the family firm, Alcott Associates for a time. After marrying a southern girl, he eventually left Boston and his father’s firm behind to start his own design firm, Alcott Design, in Richmond, Virginia. For more than thirty years, he focused primarily on visual identification and package design.

Many of the most recognized logos of my childhood in Virginia were developed by Alcott Design including United Virginia Bank, Jefferson National Bank, Virginia Federal Savings and Loan—and the logo for the City of Richmond itself that adorned buildings, fire and police cars. He passed away almost twenty years ago, but I still see the influence of his work in the packaging for Gwaltney Foods in the local grocery store. 

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I didn’t get the design gene, which is one of the many reasons why I’m thankful for the keen design eye and creative leadership of our creative director, Ted McCoig. But I did get some degree of both men’s technical precision and their desire to serve their clients well. Perhaps marketing has just become more complex and specialized—with my own specialization being marketing analytics. (Remember that my grandfather also taught industrial design. He, and his other son, Dave, developed product prototypes for many well-known companies like Polaroid and Westinghouse, so there’s a touch of the science in the family!)

I’m proud of the work we do on behalf of our clients at Alcott Marketing Science, and I like to believe that there is some continuity in the work of Alcott, Thoner & Marsh, Alcott Associates, and Alcott Design with my own as part of Alcott Routon and Alcott Marketing Science. 

We would love to work with you, too. If you need help achieving your marketing goals, feel free to connect with us whenever you'd like. 

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Topics: Agency, Data, B2C, B2B