From time to time we hear from bank senior management that their board doesn’t seem engaged, or that they can’t get a sustained conversation out of their board.  Instead, board meetings consist of routine review of management reports, with motions, seconds, and unanimous adoptions of management recommendations without any meaningful discussion.  Years of bank board meetings can go by without a single dissenting vote recorded in the bank’s board minutes.  Regulators may being to question, perhaps correctly, that the board has merely become a rubber stamp for management, and that the board is merely “going through the motions” at each board meeting.

Over time, we have found one topic for which no board member can remain silent, and everyone (and I mean everyone) has an opinion.

What color should the bank’s new logo be?

Branch lobby carpet colors can also be quite effective, as can capitalization (grammar, not balance sheet, i.e. Fintech vs. FinTech),  a change in mascot or marketing gimmick, or minor tweaks to branch hours.

While none of these topics are likely, at the end of the day, to have a significant impact on shareholders’ return, they each represent an area where every human being has a gut reaction… and often a gut reaction that we feel strongly about.  Sporadic discussion of an item like this can bring renewed life to a board, and demonstrate the passion that each feels for the organization itself.  (We’ve also seen, occasionally, topics like these used to “wear out” a board before a more serious topic with known disagreements is brought forward.)

At BankBryanCave.com, we’ve recently experienced a similar activity, as our web development team (which still sounds strange to me, as I started BankBryanCave.com myself in my family room) is working on a re-design, which we hope to roll out by the end of the year.  As a first step, the team presented a variety of new header images for the site.  Upon sharing with other members of our team, the responses (late on a Friday afternoon) were rapid, opinionated, and voluminous.  (Even those that normally may be hard to reach on a Friday afternoon lobbed in their opinions.)

A few of the contenders, as well as feedback received, are below.  A PDF of the eight options presented is available here.  If you have an opinion (and I know you do), please feel free to e-mail me or send me a tweet at @RobertKlingler.

emptytellerlines
“Nothing suggests up-to-date banking analysis than an empty teller line.”

whatsinthere
“A JJ Abrams lens flare is exactly what we need.”

“What’s in there?  Is it hope for a great future, or impending doom?”

emptyvault

“Oh.  Nothing’s inside.  Okay.”

So if you’re wondering how to get your board members re-engaged… or hoping your colleagues will contribute additional blog posts… consider (or merely threaten) a re-design of your logo.