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TIS Killed By Committee Image
By: ROB McCARTY
Brand
Sep 18, 2015

Killed by Committee

Regardless of industry, there is always a fight for leadership in business. Everyone wants to have the authority to be a decision maker. When it comes to working with a marketing agency, a “less-is-more” mentality is key when it comes to making decisions. A layer of trust needs to exist in business organizations that allows people to do their jobs, make critical decisions, and present ideas without the need to have everyone involved every step of the way.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

It is all too common a scenario where a committee of people (be it a dozen, half dozen, or whatever the number) has to input on and approve an idea for creative. This causes problems that could be avoided with fewer decision makers in play. The more commanders involved, the more inefficient and costly a project becomes.

True Stakeholders Only, Please

We caution a decision maker to be careful who gets a say-so in the creative process, because often people are pulled in (or force their way in) who don’t know anything about creative or brand, and what makes a design effective. It’s a big no-no to allow these folks to become stakeholders in the end result. Also, it can be disrespectful to the true stakeholders in this process.

Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching…

When a dozen people insist on approving creative, it becomes a far costlier process as well, because more time must be spent distilling several inputs and making all these changes (and in our experience, changes upon changes upon changes, etc.) in order to accommodate every one of these decision makers. This can be best explained with an example:

Let’s assume 12 members of a committee are trying to decide between Creative Options A and B. While 9 people like Option A, the other 3 insist on Option B. The agency then must change Option A to better accommodate the opinions of the 3 dissenters. As a result, a new Option C (franken-option), emerges, which in most cases, is less desirable. The original 9 approvers dislike Option C, their appreciation for Option A is forgotten, and they perceive the agency has failed to deliver a solid product.

This game of back-and-forth isn’t beneficial on either end. It wastes money and forces longer lead times, longer time to get to market, and longer time to finish other processes.

Selecting the Right Committee Size

I’ve experienced this scenario a time or two in my 15 years as a business leader. Those experiences in mind, my recommendation is to start with a large committee in the beginning stages of a project, if you must. Then have the committee leader (usually the primary stakeholder) assign responsibility to no more than four people to work with the agency. Best-case is to assign one person as the liaison with the agency from this smaller committee.

Selecting the right committee becomes easier with practice. If a leader is a micromanager and willing to admit it, then she may have to be on the committee. If not, then she should select the right person (or people) who understand the company, its values, its undiscovered qualities, etc. to be involved in the decision-making process.

Together, the chosen committee can work with the agency to reach a final product that they present to the larger group. This system creates ownership and focus among the team. If the team is selected correctly, they will achieve the right outcome, and a final decision can be made quickly.

I am a firm believer in the fact that a solid visual identity can and will be successful if the leadership team believes in and supports it. What you do to support your brand and bring it to life in your market with a consistent presence is more important than wasting time in committee trying to achieve someone’s or many someone’s standards of perfection.

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