Design Through the Decades

For 30+ years, Local Marketing Communications Company ChampCohen 
Has Been Changing With The Times

ChampCohen Design Associates has been thriving and growing as a Del Mar based business for more than three decades. Their clients range from biotech to tourism; from established, million-dollar brands to new start-ups; and through its long history the company has produced well over 20,000 projects. But it began years ago by John Champ when left his position with an established ad agency to found his own marketing communications firm.

Originally named “John Champ Design Associates,” ChampCohen Design associates was founded in 1981. At that time, the ‘associate’ referred to an answering machine Mr. Champ kept on a cardboard box next to his drafting table.

In the years around the company’s founding, the entire marketing industry was shifting. Old style ad-agencies were changing as clients looked for increases in efficiency and everyone searched for ways to lower overhead. At the same time, Champ believed that he could build a solid customer base by providing great design, solid rationale to back up his work, and working every day to prove he held his clients’ best interests at heart.

The firm quickly grew beyond its origins as a one man studio. The company brought on Randall Cohen in 1994 and rebranded itself ChampCohen Design Associates in 2000. In addition to Champ and Cohen, ChampCohen is currently comprised of Jo-Lin Govek and Nick Kass. Describing the team, Champ says, “There is no way we could experience the ongoing success we have had without the positive attitude and chemistry we share.”

Throughout his decades with ChampCohen, Champ has seen many changes both as a San Diego businessman and designer, explaining, “It used to be that unless you did work for The San Diego Zoo, a local bank, or a real estate developer, our sleepy tourist town had little commerce to support a thriving design industry. Today there is plenty of work here in town. ChampCohen can say we have done work for dozens of medical device and biotech companies that were nonexistent until recently.”

Technological shift has also been a major component of the company’s journey. When ChampCohen started they were early adopters, investing in state-of-the-art technology like a photo stat camera and fax machine. But even now, as today’s new media platforms and high-speed communication offers more business opportunities, the principles of great design still form the basis for all of ChampCohen’s work. Practicing their craft as designers, learning how to cut through informational clutter and graphically communicate has been the timeless core to the firm’s success.

Amongst their many clients, Champ mentions their ongoing work for the USS Midway Museum as a particular point of pride. ChampCohen has worked closely with the museum since its launch in 2004; and materials generated by Champ and the other designers have helped the museum attract, entertain and educate millions of visitors from around the world.

Beyond the office, Champ cites the importance of maintaining a productive and balanced life outside of work. Champ plays softball, coaches his children and serves as chairman of the board of Conner’s Cause for Children; a nonprofit founded in 1995 which focuses on providing direct services to families of very sick children.

Regarding doing business locally, Champ states “I saw many of my fellow designers and art directors leave the San Diego area to to seek jobs in L.A. and other media markets. and thought to myself, ‘No, thanks!’ I believed then, as I do now, that I could do good work right here. I live on the coast, gaze out at the ocean from an office in Del Mar doing what I love. How lucky am I, and why would I ever leave?”

You can learn more about ChampCohen Design Associates
 at ChampCohen.com. You can learn more about Conner’s Cause 
for Children at ConnersCause.org.