By Katja Schindler, Creative Director
October 13, 2014
There are many things that come together in order to create a successful communication piece. Obviously, there is a client who has a service or product to promote. There is also strategy and research that inform a creative direction. And finally, there is a lot of noodling that takes place between writers and designers to come up with the perfect idea. The magical formula of words, colors, images, fonts, tone…
But sometimes, as it happens in our line of work, the perfect idea might not seem perfect to the client or the account manager, and that sparkly idea gets kicked back and forth, thrown around, beaten down, budgets get cut, seasons change, and before you know it, everything is passé.
Yes, feedback is a very important part of the process. Crucial. We all understand that. Us “creative folk” go to school to learn our craft, the ins and outs of typography, design history, wordsmithing, and…to develop a thick skin. We expect our ideas to be challenged, questioned and sometimes even torn apart. We don’t take it personally. Because the choices we make as creative professionals are not personal.
That being said, there are some things that can drive your creative team a little crazy. Comments and feedback that we think lessen our product, tarnish the shine, diminish the potential for creating the best work we can for our client. So we humbly offer up some thoughts on how to get the best creative from your Creative.
Not to be repetitive, but…it’s not personal
There will be times when you, as a client, react to a design. You just don’t like it, but you are not sure why. Or maybe you know exactly why. You hate the color purple, and it’s all over the website. There is nothing wrong with disliking a color. But remember, this isn’t about you. Or the designer. It’s about the intended audience. That demographic may love the color purple.
The creative choices we makes are not random. We make decisions based on the strategy that was established for the project. Everything from the font, to the copy tone, to the color palette. We select colors based on established brand standards, or based on what we think will best communicate the message. We select fonts that we know will resonate with our audience, not just the hottest one on the block with the funky name.
A better idea….
- Ask the art director why they chose a certain color/font/image/word. Discuss why you don’t think it works.
- Ask yourself, and your creative team: does the design reflect the strategy? Does it communicate to our target audience, even if it might not resonate with us? Be honest.
Frankenstein was, indeed, a monster.
It happens all the time…the creative team presents two concepts, and as a client, you like different parts of each execution, so you ask the creative team to merge the concepts into one. Frankenstein the design, if you will.
While this may seem like the best of both worlds, blending your “favorite flavors” into one, it is the quickest way to dilute the strength of a communication piece right out of the gate. Remember what happens when you mix all your paint colors together? Nope…you don’t get a rainbow. You get a muddy brown.
Because the creative process is like a stew. Copy and creative mingle and evolve together. Once you start separating things, the thread that ties a concept together is broken, and the overall communication is weakened. It truly does. Every time.
A better idea….
- Discuss the merits of each execution, talk about what is and isn’t working.
- Select a single execution and ask the creative team to look at how any deficits can be resolved. Leave it up to the design team to decide whether or not there is a way to incorporate elements from one concept into another.
A short leash might work on a dog…
Most people understand that it’s best to give creativity some room to emerge. But every once in a while a project comes around where the feedback closes in tighter and tighter…squeezing out every last inch of creative breathing room.
What are you talking about?
We’re talking about feedback that is so specific that it basically tries to pick up our mouse and do our job for us. Certainly, there might be valid changes that need to be made. We understand this. But the more creative direction that gets dictated to the creative team, the less of our expertise you will see. And we like to think we are good at what we do!
Throw us a bone!
Give us some line. We’ll show you what we can do. Need something changed? We love solving problems in an artful way, tweaking the layout just so, changing a word to make it all sing. It’s what we do. It’s what we are being paid to do.
We know that you live and breathe by the success of your business, and that you probably have sleepless nights strategizing, or worrying about how to address challenges. The same holds true for us. Yes, we might toss and turn over pantone colors and over-used words, but we go to bed dreaming about the success of your business, too. Because we care about doing the best we can to communicate to your audience.
We hope these are helpful reminders, things to keep in mind as we all strive to reach our collective dreams. Of course, in the end, we are happiest when a communication piece achieves its strategic goal, and you love it too – purple, white space, fancy fonts, and all.
If you work in Creative, is there anything you’d change or add? And if you’re on the client side, what’s your strategy for working with your Creative team?