Committees come in many forms and have many purposes. But at some point, most committees are responsible for approving designs for logos, publications, signage and interior decor. Having been a part of such committees myself (and being a designer), I am prepared to tell you why these groups are at a terrible disadvantage when asked to make design decisions.
Wrangling with the personalities and individual preferences of any committee is often something brand designers have to do. As advocates for your audience, we offer tremendous experience connecting symbols with audiences. This has more to do with human psychology and how the brain remembers than whether you prefer the stripes or the dots.
When a design project needs consensus to succeed (from a logo to a new building) personal tastes flood the process. Add to that, the hierarchy that dwells in every committee. This gives some people’s opinions more weight in the approval regardless of their individual professional expertise or experience. This makes getting designs approved a messy process.
People want to be part of organizational change.
Simply put, you either feel a part of the club or not. And change can be turbulent. Committees increase the potential for preliminary design leaks to the employees or volunteers. Consequently, more opinions join the storm. Outsiders will tend to be skeptical simply because they weren’t included in the process. There are always exceptions, but generally this dissent is common. Compromise eventually results. Driven by uninformed opinions, gut reactions, fear of change and frustration, proposed designs, copy writing and photography are stripped of originality, bold statements and compelling messages. And, once the design has been neutered, politically sanitized and homogenized, it gains approval.
Your organization deserves great design. Use your committee to identify two individuals with the best background and experience to make design judgements. Let your designer interview them individually if necessary and use that information to make a decision. These two people and the organization’s director should be the only people involved in the initial process.
Full board presentations can then be arranged where strategy is well-conceived and clearly presented to establish a context for proposed designs. Competitor analysis and existing marks that the board members will recognize can be discussed to lend credence to a proposed design. This works. We do it several times each year for organizations ranging from National Non-Profits to small professional firms with 10 employees.
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