The customer’s not always right. Part 1

Recently we were tasked with a logo for a special hospital program. It’s a very noble ministry called “No One Dies Alone”. Basically for people that may not have friends or family to visit them in what are the last days of their lives. Jen and I discussed the parameters. They had a small budget – and were in somewhat of a hurry. Due to the nature of the subject matter, we thought an elegant type treatment with perhaps a simple graphical element would work. We chose the font Aphrodite for its dramatic swashes. The doves we’re added, two, for obvious reasons. Doves also are regularly used in religious symbolism- representing the Holy Spirit. This hospital happens to have a religious affiliation. All things considered- I think we did a good job capturing their message.

I received an email a few days later. Overall, the committee loved it. But there was a lone decenter. Conversation probably went like this:

(Committee members around a table reviewing logo)

Member 1: “I love it- perfect.”

Member 2: I like the font and the doves are a stroke of genius.”

Member 3: This will look great on our brochures.”

(Janitor walks by glances down and offers his two cents)

Janitor: “Looks like a bat.”

Member 1: “Oh dear- You think so? I don’t see it but…”

Member 2: “Should I write that down?”

Janitor: “Yeah- and dat word looks like “Dries.”

Member 3: “You mean like as in “Dries clothes”?

Member 1: “No one dries alone?”

Member 2: “That doesn’t even make sense”.

Janitor: “Yeah well, you asked.”

Member 1: “I don’t think we did”.

Member 2: “I guess we better write something down, otherwise the artist might think we don’t know what we’re talking about”.

Member 1: (sighs) “I suppose so. Ask him for some alternatives”.

Scene. And cut.

Now it might seem like maybe I’m one of those “prima donna” graphic artists and that no one can criticize my work. Nothing could be further from the truth! Generally speaking, “design by committee” doesn’t work. There needs to be a leader that can filter input from committee members and be able to cull the sensible suggestions from the plain goofy ones. Otherwise budgets get trampled, unnecessary delays happen, and usually an inferior design is approved.

We did submit an alternative as requested, choosing a different font and altering the bird to be more bird-ish. I think the design is not near as strong as the original. I could make more of a case by using design jargon with circles and arrows. But I ask the reader- “what do you think”?


Eric Brown - May 20, 2011 - 6:37 pm

“Excuse me while I kiss this guy”

Danetta Bramhall - May 31, 2011 - 5:08 pm

Mike–I love your Blog! You should have done this a long time ago. And yes, I agree with you, your first effort was stronger for No One Dies Alone…and you know how I feel about designing by committee…eeeauww.

chingpea - May 31, 2011 - 5:56 pm

this one is a crack-up! i know the customer isn’t always right… sometimes they just are intentionally annoying. anyway, i love the art. i liked the first one better but whatever… and why are these “higher ups” listening to a janitor?!? geez.

Donette Hicks - May 31, 2011 - 6:29 pm

GOD- do you hear me? Don’t let me die alone!

nick belardes - June 1, 2011 - 4:03 am

I remember when you laughed at me for blogging…

The world deserves more of your humor. I was just talking about you today as one of the funniest guys ever. I’ll never forget our five-minute drawings of Dave Cote. Heh.

BTW, I liked the bats. Nice touch.

KS - June 1, 2011 - 9:18 am

Looks great…peaceful! Think you captured it!

willisdesign - June 1, 2011 - 12:24 pm

Thanks Nick, I know I have to keep AHEAD of the times- just keeping up doesn’t cut it. Should have scanned our 5 minute drawerings (Cote speak)

willisdesign - June 1, 2011 - 12:27 pm

Thanks Danetta- I knew you’d “get it”.

Ryan Northway - June 8, 2011 - 12:51 am

Great post, keep em coming!

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