On several occasions my clients have asked me to make recommendations to their junior teams on how to best judge the work I’m about to share with them. Many times the conversation about the work can quickly get diverted into a granular discussion about color preference, imagery or personal bias. Below is a quick Creative Review checklist that has served both junior and senior clients well in making the best creative choices for their brand.
> BEGIN BY REVIEWING THE APPROVED CREATIVE BRIEF.
The Creative Brief is the roadmap that your team uses in order to develop their ideas. Many times specific messages, strategies or requirements have been noted to ensure the success of the assignment. By everyone starting on the same page with regard to the assignment, the objectives, the audience and the messaging, you’ll be able to have a more objective response to the work you’re about to see.
> HAVE YOUR CREATIVE TEAM PRESENT THEIR WORK.
Make certain that the team responsible for the work you’re about to see is a part of the presentation. They should be going through it with you the first time you’re seeing it. This could happen on the phone or better yet, in person.
The reason this is important is that your creative team can best describe their thinking and approach. They’re also best equipped to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
> HAVE MORE THAN ONE CREATIVE OPTION TO RESPOND TO.
Many times relationships and budgets may limit the concept round to only one idea. If this rhythm is working for you and your team then by all means continue.
However, new initiatives or new relationships in particular may require several creative approaches to choose from. The ideal number is usually three. Encourage your team to offer you an approach that’s safe, one that’s innovative and one that’s truly out of the box.
This offers you a sense of what’s possible as well as fueling ideas that could work into the existing assignment or into a future job.
> RESPOND AS THE TARGET AUDIENCE, NOT THE CLIENT.
Try to keep personal preferences out of it. If you’re a 40 year old woman but your audience is a 20 year old man, chances are you’re going to need to wrap your head around dorm life, dating and sports before you respond to the presentation.
I find it’s helpful to have photos of the target group in the room while looking at the creative. When you hold the work next to the target image you can quickly see if there’s fit.
> STAY ON BRAND.
New creative teams are quick to reject most work that has proceeded them. It’s not uncommon for new fonts, colors, imagery and messaging to suddenly appear as well. Keep them honest and insist on brand continuity. Your identity shouldn’t change because you're selling something new to a different demographic.
If they have an idea that you love but they’ve ignored your Brand Standards, encourage your team to explore a Branded version of the concept.
> SOCIALIZE THE WORK BUT PROVIDE BACK-UP.
Feel free to get other people’s feedback but don’t provide the creative in a vacuum. Make certain you’re passing along the Creative Brief and target information along with the creative files. This way their selection process will be as well-informed as yours.
> THE NET RESULT.
You’ll find the entire process more efficient because the winning idea will be selected based on the best translation of the Creative Brief and not the personal opinions of others. Your end product will look better and ultimately perform better because the time saved can be spent on perfecting the chosen concept.