10 tips for evaluating creative

It doesn’t matter if you’re a creative director, an account director, or a client. Evaluating creative and providing thoughtful, actionable feedback that actually helps the creative team is hard. It can also be intimidating. Is it good? Is it on-brand? Will it work? How can I make it better?
We live in a subjective world.

Even the best creative and marketing minds make mistakes. Remember the Kendall Jenner/Pepsi debacle? But there are ways to minimize the miscues. Use these tips to provide better feedback and direction that just might lead to the kind of envy-inducing creative that sells products, wins awards, and makes your brand more valuable.

Don't accept a regurgitation of the brief.

You should see a creative leap in the execution. The brief should be the beginning, not the end.

Expect to be surprised.

If the creative team put in the work, they should be showing ideas and executions that you haven’t thought of. Not being surprised is not good.

Is it on-strategy?
Is it on-brand?

Creative is subjective. You might not like any given execution, but you should get the thinking behind it. Meaning, you should see the strategy and branding come through. If not, there’s a problem.

Keep your overall objective in mind.

When seeing new creative for the first time, don’t get too hung up on the minutiae. Focus on the big picture. What’s working? What’s not? Does the general direction feel right? If so, you’re on your way.

Will it work?

Take a moment to set the shiny new idea aside and seriously consider if it will perform in the marketplace. Will it accomplish what you want it to do?

Consider its ability to get noticed.

The whole point of advertising and marketing is to get eyeballs on your product and message. Does the creative command attention? Will it stop the scroll?

Is there an emotional tug?

The best marketing typically elicits an emotion: amusement, joy, awe, craving, nostalgia, fear, etc. If the creative makes you “feel” something that you want associated with your brand, that’s often a good thing.

Consider the audience.

If you’re not part of the target audience, your personal likes or dislikes of the creative don’t mean much. Reread tips 3 through 6 and always view the creative through the lens of its intended audience.

Be positive.

Start with what you like, and gradually get to the stuff that isn’t working. Focus on constructive, encouraging ways to suggest changes. Statements like “Yes, and…” work well.

See a problem?
Don't try to fix it.

It can be hard, but resist trying to solve every problem you have with the creative. Focus on the core issue. Just say: “It feels too copy heavy,” or “We need more product description,” or “I need to see more branding.” Give the creative team a chance to address it, then see tip 2.

Final thoughts

Is this a comprehensive list? No. But it’s a good place to start. It will also go far in building a great relationship with your creative team. And the more they like and respect you, the harder they’re going to work to impress and surprise you – which will ultimately lead to even better work.