Managing the Unavoidable: Design By Committee

Jen Dodson

Chief Creative Officer

We’ve been there. Working on a project with so many people involved, the process turns out to be anything but what was planned. These design by committee situations can be frustrating and exhausting to say the least.

Jen recently sat on the “What to Do When Faced with Design by Committee” panel at the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit Conference in Baltimore, MD. While all panelists agreed that design by committee is unavoidable, it is manageable. Here’s how:

1. Clearly define the goals

What are you trying to accomplish? Why is it important? Make sure your goals are mapped out and that everyone agrees.

2. Know who is who

Who is responsible for what? Who is the decision maker on each side? Whose votes count? Marketers are the experts on their business. Agencies are the expert on communication strategies. Play to your strengths and rely on the other side for theirs. Clearly defining roles in the begining is invaluable.

3. Spend plenty of time planning

If a project has 100 pieces, 85 of them should be planning, researching, defining the problem, exploring answers, defining the best approach and prototyping. Proper planning ensures the solution is found organically with buy-in, not forced upon the group.

4. Use Google image search

People don’t know what they want until they see it. So help them see it before you spend hours mocking up possible solutions. The agency can present ideas and/or the marketer could show what they prefer. Adashmore uses this to save resources on everything from logos and identity packages to websites and collateral.

5. Never assume anything

if there is something you really care about make sure it has been agreed upon on both sides. Be explicit and ask for specific confirmation so you won’t regret it later.

If you’d like to know more about managing design by committee situations, get in touch. We’re considering a support group that meets at the bar.