I stumbled across a great maxim recently: “a camel is a horse designed by committee.”
It reminded me of this great spoof video from 2006 that imagines the packaging that would have resulted if Microsoft had launched the iPod instead of Apple.
What is most remarkable about this video is that Microsoft eventually confessed that Microsoft’s own packaging department created it:
“It was an internal-only video clip commissioned by our packaging [team] to humorously highlight the challenges we have faced RE: packaging and to educate marketers here about the pitfalls of packaging/branding.”
The video picked up such viral momentum, I doubt there’s a packaging team in the world that didn’t share it with their marketing team at some point as a cautionary tale.
Design is one of the most powerful tools that a brand has at its disposal, yet it is so often squandered. Many companies have effectively neutered their internal design teams and agencies by relegating them to minor supporting roles.
Great design can make the difference between remarkable products and commodity soup, but many design teams are only used for cosmetic window-dressing.
I like this method quote: “most companies draw distinction between strategy and creativity. We intentionally blur the lines.”
In the same Fast Company article I discovered the maxim about the camel, Brett Lovelady offered “Seven Truths in Designing“. Here’s my favorite:
“Design is not a democracy. Democracies are fine, mainly for collecting diverse input. But they can kill design. Often too many opinions water down the clarity of the design intent. I’ve had many clients where there are way too many brilliant people involved in programs. They find it their duty to provide all the alternative solutions or insights to every program–always broadening the thinking–instead of focusing on decision-making. If not for the benevolent dictatorship of the program director in these programs, they would never reach the goal. Design requires focused leadership, not democratic consensus.”