Evaluating Creative Work: 7 Questions You Should Be Asking

Many of the people I work these days are great business people who run profitable and successful businesses. They’re fun to work with and want to get great results from the marketing collateral that they put out there, whether it’s a website, direct mail or social media campaign. But most of them really struggle when it comes to determining whether the creative concept is right for them.

I’ve seen some interesting approaches that businesses take when evaluating creative, including the ‘gut feel’ and the ‘palm it off on someone else to make the decision’, simply because the key stakeholder isn’t sure what they’re looking for when they’re asked to evaluate the creative work presented to them. They know whether they like something or not, but they’re just not sure whether it’s right for the task in hand.

Knowing what to look for can be incredibly empowering, better still, it makes for better feedback to develop the creative further. It makes the designer’s job easier and you’ll get better results. So the next time someone presents a creative concept, design or a campaign to you, consider these questions.

1. Does it answer the brief?

You should have a brief with details of the task in hand. That brief should contain a single-minded proposition that encapsulates what you’re trying to say. Take a good hard look at what’s being presented to you and ask yourself, does it say that? Think about the creative concept, the visuals, the headline and the copy.

2. Is it on-brand?

You’ve worked hard to establish your brand. You know what your company stands for, how you talk about things and of course, your brand logo and colours. Does the creative presented to you reflect these elements, and are they being used correctly?

3. Does it appeal to the target audience?

This one is critical. There’s no point creating a campaign that doesn’t resonate with your buyer. You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes and think like they do. Are you appealing to their emotional side as well as presenting the features of your service or product? Are they likely to find the images appealing? Will they find the overall concept appealing?

4. Is it single-minded?

Often clients fall into the trap of trying to say everything. This often confuses the reader and the creative piece loses impact. Keeping it simple and focusing on one key message makes the communication stronger and more likely to resonate with your audience.

5. Is the message strong enough?

Weak creative will deliver poor results. But what do we mean by ‘strong’? What we’re really asking is whether this is the most powerful message we can say based on the campaign objective. The headline, body copy and call to action should all be compelling to the audience to act, or in the case of brand advertising, believe.

6. Are you happy to associate your brand with this piece of communication?

Sometimes creative people go a bit too far. Perhaps the concept is a little too quirky, the visuals aren’t quite right (an illustration instead of your usual use of photography) or the joke isn’t actually that funny. Most creative people worth their salt will always present two or even three concepts, so if one’s not sitting well with you, they’ll have a ‘safe bet’ up their sleeve.

7. Do you like it?

You know your brand, your buyer and your business inside out. If you don’t like the creative, then it’s likely your intended audience won’t like it either. You’re paying for the work so you’ve got to like it. You have the last word.

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