Good Design Doesn’t Happen By Committee

How to avoid the pitfalls of group decision-making and be more creative

Building consensus is hard. Particularly for businesses, and particularly for those in the middle of a re-brand. Add to that the pressure and exposure of branding work, dealing in subjective terms like colors, shapes, typography, tone…etc. Personal biases and political differences can come quickly to the fore. After all, how can one say that a red version of this is better than a yellow version of that? It’s no wonder so many companies and creatives play it safe. But sometimes safe just won’t cut it, here are some tips and tricks (and silly, very descriptive gifs) to embolden your team to dream big and make a larger impact:

1. Identify your key decision makers

The smaller and better-defined this group can be the better. If deciding on a new logo for your company, this small group probably shouldn’t include all of your social media follows, or even your spouse. It is best that the group is invested and involved in every step of the process. This will help your team align and move forward.

2. Articulate the vision

Clearly state what the goals of your creative endeavor are and make sure that everyone understands it. Define the criteria for success and agree upon them. Disagreement around methods are inevitable, but manageable if there is alignment around where the project is headed.

3. Provide context

When your team is tasked with re-imaging something, or better yet, creating something completely new, it is vital to think of it beyond how it exists today, and imagine how it could exist tomorrow, in the context of your vision. A business name starts as a simple typed word on a page, but as it becomes a name it can transform to mean so much more than what the word suggests.

4. Be nice to bad ideas

The game is to keep as many balls in the air as possible. Creative ideation requires a sifting of the less successful ideas from the “winning” concepts. Eliminating options that don’t work places too much emphasis on the negative, not to mention that perhaps what you consider unsuccessful, another member of your team might see as an opportunity. Considering what is working rather than dismissing what isn’t is the way to elevate oneself out of personal bias. Trust us, the ideas that don’t fit will go un-mentioned.

5. Sidestep outside bias

If larger input is needed to make a decision, get better input with better prompts. In general, people bias towards what’s familiar and what makes logical sense. This is normal and may feel most comfortable, but is not always a good thing when making a compelling, creative statement. This means that instead of asking if a friend likes the new name you have chosen for your company, ask instead what the word (your name) reminds them of. This will alert you to any potential negative associations the word evokes, but more ideally, validate it as a successful choice, in-line with your vision.

About The Author

Emma Rotilie

I am one part artist, one part designer, full parts nerd. I love solving visual puzzles and finding new ways to express complex, human experiences. I am endlessly fascinated in why people do what they do and believe that human connection is real-life magic. Favorite past-times include drinking fancy coffee and discussing the weather with strangers.


* indicates required