Why Design by Committee Never Works and How to Stop It

Marketing projects often require some input from your team, your managers, and others. After all, design is a collaborative process.

When smart people work together on marketing projects, they can create an incredible campaign or generate phenomenal ideas. However, “design by committee” often results in the opposite: a watered-down version of your brand that appeals to everyone and no one at the same time — and takes a lot longer to make! Getting 10 people involved means longer development times, more room for confusion and misinterpretation, and overall, missing your company’s marketing vision. (See this amusing and accurate cartoon about design by committee from Marketoonist.)

What is Design by Committee?

“Design by committee” occurs often. Companies hire a marketing agency to create a website or campaign or energize their branding. We listen to your point person about what you need and produce a logo, website mockup, or ad campaign idea.

Then, your point person takes it back to the team. This team maybe three people or 10. We get it — your boss needs to approve this campaign or website. After all, it’s the face of the company and everyone needs to be on board. Then come the suggestions.

Again, great! We love hearing feedback because we know those suggestions may offer something we overlooked or consider another point of view. But after making those first changes, your committee has a few more. And then just a few more. Soon the website mockup doesn’t look at all as it did at the start and now everyone hates it. “I think we need to start over; this just isn’t what we wanted.”

How to Create Brilliant Marketing

Don’t water down your company’s brand. Here is how to manage your next marketing project:

  • Decide in advance how many people need to have final approval on the project, before meeting with your marketing agency. This is your steering committee.
  • Discuss with them the needs and goals of the project and reach an agreement about the key colors, logo elements, or features.
  • Choose one or two “point” people from that group to communicate with your marketing team.
  • Take the designs back to your steering committee, but set some boundaries if things seem to be going sideways. Of course, if the mockup is not at all what was expected, we or any other marketing team is happy to address concerns.  
  • Ask questions! Often there may be a reason your design team did something a specific way, to help with SEO, ease navigation, etc.

Do you have questions about working with a marketing agency to create fantastic campaigns? Ask us how we collaborate.

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