U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD
Survey of Consumer Finances
The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a study that is conducted every three years for the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (FRB) by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. I have designed all of the print and most of the web materials since 2004. The SCF is a huge study that covers every possible demographic (race, age, income, family size, etc.) across the United States. Its objective is to capture an accurate portrait of the citizenry's finances so that it can be statistically analyzed and then used by the U.S. government for setting future economic policy.
Because of the sensitive nature of the data collected, it is imperative to strike just the right visual tone in order to establish the veracity of the study, engender confidence in the respondents and ensure optimal participation, which is voluntary. It is also critical to consider the wide range of respondents and to recognize that their circumstances differ greatly from region to region and that their sociological vernacular is enormously diverse. Utmost care must be given in order to not be exclusionary, preferential or offensive to any one respondent group. To say that this is a mighty challenge is the understatement of the century!
Materials I originally designed in 2004 were successfully used for two rounds of the survey. As the 2010 date approached it was decided that a new look should be established. There was considerable discussion between the FRB and NORC about what kind of direction the aesthetic should take. Modern? Approachable? Formal? Official? Every adjective was thrown into the mix and then I had to start designing. Many, many concepts covering the gamut of the spectrum were explored. Ultimately, four were chosen to expand upon for presentation to focus groups for feedback.
We did not end up even close to where I expected! The final "e plurabis unum" themed materials are extremely traditional and governmental. It turned out that people, when presented with the prospect of disclosing such highly confidential information, wanted to do it only if they felt that it was VERY SERIOUS. Any softer approaches were perceived as not as credible and viewed as potentially suspect. To this day, I am still surprised as I would have predicted the chosen direction to be too "Big Brother" and intimidating. The final conservative materials were used to great success though, so much so that they were recycled for the 2013 round of the survey.
Final 2010 Materials:
Respondent Informational Folder
U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke Letter (front and back)
Game Piece Theme from 2004 & 2007:
4 Focus Group Concepts 2010:
Dollar Houses (conceptual, yet non-alienating visual metaphor for respondent population)
George (recognizable, trustworthy red, white and blue U.S. iconography)
Grassroots (appealing to peoples' desire to effect change)
Marbles (mimicking the successful Game Piece theme of 2004 and 2007)
17 Working Concepts 2010:
(ranging from contemporary to traditional)