Weve all heard it: design by committee is an unmitigated disaster. Google the phrase design by committee and youll get plenty of hits, cartoons, and courtesy of Wiktionary the famous quote that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.
So if design by committee is such a disaster, who in their right mind would open design discussions to social media, and why?
Lets start with one of the more famous sorry, infamous design fails of the last few years: Tropicanas redesign of its classic straw-in-an-orange logo.
The ensuing fiasco is estimated to have cost Tropicana over $35 million. The updated design was blasted by both graphic design pros and customers in emails and calls as well as on social media, and sales plummeted 20%. How might social media have helped? In one of the more thorough analyses of the design fail, I came across the very practical comparison of Tropicanas old and new containers for their pineapple-orange juice (my personal favorite):
Tropicana Orange Pineapple: Old & New
ORIGINAL: You’re looking for Orange Pineapple juice in a sea of cartons. If you’ve had it before you’ve already spotted the huge purple block from a distance. If not, the big juicy chunks of pineapple surrounding the orange are even more likely catch your eye. And if all else fails, the written labels certainly get the job done. This design is the pinnacle of user-friendly design.
REDESIGN:Same glass of yellow juice seen on all the other cartons no help there. Thin lime green stripe reminiscent of, um, limes? No pictures of any actual fruit. Yikes. Your only hope is to catch the word pineapple somewhere on the box, but it’s applied so inconsistently you couldn’t possibly know where to look. Florida’s Natural, anyone? (emphasis mine)
Theres a good chance that if Tropicana had posted the new designs, those of us who have a favorite would immediately have noticed and commented on the fact that Tropicana was adding precious time and frustration to our shopping trips always a recipe for failure.
A less well-known failure involved an attempt to develop a regional identity for the counties of Northwest Florida. Although the general area is often referred to as the Emerald Coast, famous for its sugar-white beaches and emerald waters that most of you first saw when the BP oil spill washed up on its shores, there had been county- and town-specific ad campaigns that some felt had fractured the regional identity. So, in 2008 an entity promising greater integration emerged, and after months of internal deliberation, launched and effort to rebrand the whole area as THE Beach. Long story short, after launching an award-winning website the whole enterprise seems to have died a predictable death, leaving dead links to a non-existent blog and a news page whose most recent article is from December 2009. Though THE Beach was derided by many in local papers, there was never an easy way for local businesses and individuals to comment on whether they would ever use the tagline or to note the many problems inherent in the new moniker. (Seriously – just how helpful do you think the Google results on THE Beach would be?)
Colorado Springs Rebranding
In our June newsletter, Jeanne Davant presents a great case study of the opposite: successful rebranding through the use of social media. After eight months of research and development, the Colorado Springs Community Branding Task Force unveiled a new city logo.
Twitter and Facebook were immediately flooded with negative reaction from the community. Rather than be defensive, a couple of folks involved launched a Rebrand the Springs Facebook page and took the whole project social.
The result? By the time a replacement logo (below) was announced, the new branding had substantial community buy-in, ensuring that the Colorado Springs branding will see far more widespread adoption by local businesses than THE Beach ever had a hope of seeing along the Emerald Coast.
Be sure to read details that Jeanne offers in her case-study!