I wrote recently about lackluster creative briefs as a leading cause of lackluster creative. Another common factor is the lackluster creative review.
How we run the process of reviewing creative directly impacts the result. Creative can be made stronger by the virtue of additional points of view. But we have to channel those points of view constructively. The path of least resistance in a creative project is to water everything down.
I overheard a handy maxim somewhere in my career that when reviewing creative “everyone has a voice, but not everyone should have a vote.”
Creative projects require an editor — someone who can sort between frequently contradictory feedback, listening to some, ignoring others, and making the final call.
I think we have to apply as much creative rigor to how we manage the creative review process as the creative itself.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
“8 Types of Bad Creative Critics” (July 2015 and November 2006)
“Design by Committee” October 2017
“The Creative Review” July 2014
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Judy Bernstein says
Two excellent thinking tools for bringing creative rigor to feedback are Rose, Thorn, Bud and POINt. Each is grounded in the convergent thinking mindset of Affirmative Judgment (i.e. seeking out first what is good about an option) With Rose, Thorn, Bud one offers first all the roses (positives), then thorns (negatives) then buds (opportunities, potential roses). With POINt the ask is for P (positives), O (opportunities), I (issues) and Nt (new thinking needed to help address the issues).
I tell clients that if you have 3 people review creative, you’ll get 5 opinions.
I also tell clients (well, okay, anyone that will listen) that “creative in the absence of strategy is just art.”
So I try to drive creative reviews based on exploring how they reflect brand strategy, audience(s), specific messaging for that particular creative effort — you know, all the stuff that should be part of a creative brief.
Of course, in the end it’s a case of “the customer is always right” (note: there is ALWAYS a higher power customer!) and personal opinions can ultimately override logic.
So it’s important to know who gets to make the final call — and clear that up at the beginning…