Creative Opportunity #47: Some guidance for giving feedback on creative

“When the creative team shares their work, our discussions can get a little contentious.”

Being a copywriter, art director or designer is, in my opinion, one of the hardest jobs in business. You need to have great ideas. And then more. And more. All with impossible deadlines, too often with weak input and while others are hovering around asking when it will be done. As with the work that each of us does, the work that a creative person does is a reflection on them. That means there is a lot of emotion attached to each piece.

So, here are a few guidelines that should help the meetings when you review creative:

Have the creative person/team “present” the work
Let them tell you about it: how and why it was done that way. Why it makes sense. How it addresses the Creative Brief. How it meets the needs of the business. Listen well. You’ll find out about the thinking behind the ideas. You’ll hear things that will help you form questions. You’ll learn some things that will likely help you sell it up the ladder.

Wait until it’s all presented
Before you dive in with a question or comment, allow the creative team to present everything they have. Make some quick notes while the work is being presented. A question you have about one thing may be addressed or resolved in another.

Refer back to the Creative Brief
Ah, another reason to have a good Creative Brief. The work being discussed was done for a reason. It’s really important to think about your comments and feedback in the context of the direction provided.

Start with the positive
Human Resources people will tell you – when you’re giving someone a performance review, start with what that individual has done well. If you start with issues, that’s all he or she hears and they’ll go back to work despondent. Same with creative work. It’s like giving a creative person a performance review. Start by telling them what is positive about what you are seeing. There has to be something. Do that and they know you are on their side and are then more open to a discussion about an issue or two.

Focus on the important areas
Don’t start your feedback with the size of the logo. Or the copyright line. Or social media icons. Talk instead about the idea in the creative. What is the idea? Is it on strategy? Is it impactful? Will it drive the business? At some point before the work is produced you can come back and ask to make the logo 10% bigger. Not now.

Don’t make it a list
If you really believe there is an issue, stay focused on that. Don’t make it 10 things. Don’t pile on. What is really bothering you? Stay there until you’re satisfied.

If you feel something is not right, make it a question rather than a statement. That way the creative person can tell you his or her thinking. More will come out of that discussion than if you start your comments with “I don’t get it.”

Seems like a lot. It’s not really. But it takes some practice. There are times when even I forget my own wisdom. In Get Better Creative sessions, we discuss this and more. And practice giving feedback. Nothing better than practice to make perfect.

Create opportunities for better creative. Go to Get Better Creative and learn about the workshop where, in one day, your team will become marketing communications rock stars. Talk with Dave Hamel, Principal of Get Better Creative and lead of the American Marketing Association’s “Successfully Managing the Creative Process” about getting better creative: 312.623.5567