Netflix’s new documentary series; Abstract: The Art of Design, takes you inside the minds of eight designers representing different fields in the industry.

Episode 6 focuses on Graphic Design and follows Paula Scher, a graphic designer, painter and art educator in design, and the first female principal at Pentagram. My favourite part of this episode was when Paula talked about the work she did for Citibank.

The original Citibank and Travelers Insurance logos
The redesigned Citibank logo

In 1998, Paula was asked to design a logo for Citibank that reflected a merger between Citibank and Travelers Insurance. She described how designing the logo itself took only a very short amount of time, it was the ‘millions’ of meetings to get buy in afterwards that took the time. They went on for nearly two years before the logo finally launched.

“The design of the logo is never really the hard part of the job, it’s persuading a million of people to use it”.

This rings true to most design projects and I’m sure a lot of designers can relate to it. Half the job is communicating and selling the design to the client/stakeholders and addressing their concerns and apprehension.

Paula went on to draw the diagram of a meeting which is an amusing way to illustrate how to conduct a design presentations so everyone’s expectations are met.

The dotted horizontal line represents the reasonable level of expectation that everyone has when you walk into the room. The solid line shows how as you begin to present, you begin to go above the reasonable level of expectation, everyone gets enthusiastic and people start asking questions. The first peak in the solid line represents the highest amount of the appreciation you’re going to get for the presentation. At this point, someone is going to make a rebuttal to your presentation and you’re going to sink below that line of expectation.

You have to then grab it back and make some concessions to get the line up to its second peak. The second peak in appreciation is as high as you’re going to get. It’s not as high as the first peak, but it’s good. The meeting must end here. If it doesn’t, there will be a counter-rebuttal to your offer will make the appreciation sink back below the line of reasonable exception and will then come back up only merely above it and continue on until no one’s happy. You’ll never be able to raise it back to where it was.

Diagram of a meeting