Presentation Notes: Pitch Perfect

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Rebecca Gimenez gave a powerful presentation at last week’s AIGA Pivot conference. Though there were many valuable insights, one in particular bears repeating. Rebecca and her design team at the Whitney were working with the organization on a rebrand and bringing in design firms to pitch the project. She noted that she and her team had the opportunity to compete as well.

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I believe most people’s assumptions in the room were that she was going to say that they participated in the process. Here was an open door for an in-house team to go head-to-head with outside firms. There was an uncomfortable shuffle among the attendees when she surprised everyone and said she and her team decided not to be included.

She then went on to explain what turned out to be a savvy and strategic rationale. Having worked on a previous rebrand, Rebecca knew, that to win the current proposal would mean taking on a long, arduous labor and time intensive project. This would not only take her team away from its other assignments, it would also prevent them from seeking out new ways to support the institution.

As an integral player that touched almost all design related projects taken on by the Whitney, Rebecca knew that she and her group would have plenty of opportunities to provide input and creative direction on the rebrand. This is the kind of strategic positioning that we’d all be wise to emulate.


More Resources on Pitching

4 thoughts on “Presentation Notes: Pitch Perfect

  1. Eric

    That is a great insight. My team ends up taking on anything like that, only because we rarely get interesting projects since we work in a financial institution. Then we are stretched beyond what we can handle, and then the output isn’t really what I would like it to be. Good to keep in mind. Thanks!

  2. Carolyn Crowley

    Rebecca makes a good point, but I think that her decision isn’t always the right decision in every case. She was able to step away from the rebranding because she knows she will have a seat at the rebranding table and have input. The rest of us innies don’t even get a seat at the table or any input when outside agencies are brought in. In this case, I actually am more of a proponent of getting in there–even though it’s a lot of work and could put strain on other projects–and at least making your voice heard that the innie should be considered as an option for the rebranding. Also, the other part of this is that the innies will be the ones living and breathing this brand for years and if the new brand is not up to par or just plain wrong–and I can say from experience–it will have repercussions that can negatively impact your work for years to come.

  3. Kim Ziereis

    I agree with Rebecca’s point of view on time constraints. My group is slim and the 4 of us support everything from marketing efforts for 180 apartment communities to investor communications to large events. With time as our most precious resource, I welcome outside agencies to get the ball rolling.
    Part of me cringes at the amount of money we spend on agency engagements but believe outside perspective is a tremendous value and can learn from design thinkers outside our cube walls and get inspired to approach projects differently. Where my team adds the most value is taking those ideas and layering on top of our company knowledge and brand standards we’ve built and ultimately create work that is fresh for our internal clients and has created a learning experience for my team. It has taken years of building trust and proving our skills but am really proud that we do have a seat at the outside agency table as a collaborator and not simply the receiver of design work.

  4. SLE

    This is such an interesting topic. Our overworked design team has been through so many false starts to rebrand our company by leadership that just cannot make up its mind; the latest we’ve heard is rumblings about hiring an outside firm. I have to say, I actually welcome the outside perspective and the validation of the time and money that this effort deserves. As long as we have a say — which I’ve been assured we will — this could be an exciting endeavor.

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