OFF TO WORK .. with Bill Adams, who might be able to help you out of your identity crisis
by Bill Edwards
Star Staff Writer
Apr 04, 2011 | 2683 views |  0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Adams sketches a design idea on paper before producing it on his computer. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
Bill Adams sketches a design idea on paper before producing it on his computer. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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A human being is born with unique identifiers such as DNA and fingerprints, but when a business wants an identifier, what does it do?

It might knock on the door of Bill Adams, creative director of Potts Marketing Group in Anniston. He goes off to work creating identifiers for businesses — logos. A logo is a shape, a word or an image, or some combination of two or all, that brings a business immediate recognition in the eye of its customer.

“The logo is the soul of an entity” is how Adams expresses it.

He does his work alongside four staffers, each with his own creative specialty and whose work Adams also oversees.

“Nothing can go out the door that I couldn’t lay claim to myself,” he said.

Owned by Tommy Potts, the firm provides several other services, such as public relations, web marketing and video production. Creativity with lines and colors, however, is what’s most obvious when one looks around on the walls of the firm’s historic Noble Street offices in the old Security Bank building.

When a business owner or marketing representative sits down with Adams to talk about the public “look” for his or her company or institution, the 54-year-old artist wants to know who its customers are and what the company wants to do for them — among many other points.

“It’s a process of empathy,” Adams said, meaning to see what the client wants through the client’s eyes. Adams combines that knowledge with his own artistic perspective to produce a design plan.

“Part of giving them what they want is giving them what they need. The information, the empathetic information I get from a client enables me to design for a client.”

Knowing the client’s audience, not just the client, is essential.

“Once we idealize their demographic, I’m able to attract or satisfy that demographic.”

For example, the logo Adams designed for a Birmingham-based investment company, Harbert Management Corporation (HMC), includes a stylized drawing of a bridge. To an HMC client that should represent strength or stability — but to Adams’ client it also represents the history of the company, which includes bridge construction.

Other design or branding projects readily apparent locally include those for Southern States Bank, North American Bus Industries and Longleaf Style magazine, a publication of the company that produces The Anniston Star.

The company for which Adams works was founded in 1998 by three local women as an advertising and marketing company.

“There was nothing like it here” at the time, he said.

Adams was working for the company when Potts bought it in 2001.

Formerly of Florida, Adams was working for a Monsanto facility in Pensacola when the chemical company sent him to do some work in Anniston. He started hanging out in Jacksonville — “the closest thing to Mayberry I’ve ever seen in my life” — and in the late ’70s began working for Mountain Graphics as a silkscreen artist. Subsequent employment at American Design Studio put him on the road to creating logos.

His marriage to a Talladega woman kept him from returning to Florida, though he concedes missing the beach.

As his own training is rooted in freehand drawing, Adams expects that skill from people who work for him. Using one’s computer as an “easel” is a great improvement over stencils and Rubylith — “to be able to do what we do now is so amazing compared to the ‘cave drawings’” of the past, he said. However, it’s not a substitute for the instinctive knowledge of what a hand gripping a pencil can create.

“I want artists to sketch ideas, not do them on the computer,” Adams said. “The ability to draw is the basis for all art.”

If you know of anyone who’ll talk about what he or she does for a living, or you are such a person yourself, drop a line to bedwards@annistonstar.com for a possible write-up in “Off to Work.”
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