How to evaluate agency creative work – part 4 of 4

When the time comes to look at new creative work, there’s almost a palpable excitement in the air. This is why you hired your agency — for their creative ideas and execution.

Could this be the campaign that sets your brand on an entirely new trajectory?

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to give the new creative work a thumbs up or thumbs down, which might feel a little intimidating. Which campaign do you choose? How can you be sure it will help you achieve your goals? There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to judging creative work. And there’s no guarantee a new campaign will solve all your marketing problems.

But there are standards for evaluating creative work that will help you through the evaluation process.

Five Creative Work Evaluation Tips

Go back to the brief

Start with the creative brief you and your agency established at the beginning of the project. It is the framework against which creative work should be judged. All creative concepts should follow the outlined strategy and overall business objectives, regardless of how outrageous and out-of-the-box they are.

As you’re thinking about the brief, make sure the creative work is appropriate for the target audience. How does the campaign align with what they already believe and how they view the brand? Will it change their perceptions in a positive way? At the same time, make sure the creative is benefit oriented. As you know, consumers primarily want to know what’s in it for them. So be sure the features in the work translate into clear benefits.

Will it grab attention and inspire action?

It goes without saying that the creative work should be memorable. For example, an ad should be impactful enough to capture someone’s attention and the message should be clear. Clever ads are generally more memorable, but cleverness shouldn’t get in the way of the message. You’re already fighting against hundreds of other messages your target audience sees every day. So make sure they can quickly connect the dots.

Next, be sure the creative has a clear call to action (CTA). Does it effectively communicate what you want the reader to do? The CTA should be obvious, whether you want them to buy something or look at your brand differently. Don’t make your reader guess what you want them to do.  

Does it fit with your brand?

Now think about whether the creative fits with your brand. Does it look like your brand? Sound like you? Unless you’re doing a complete rebrand, it should fit seamlessly with everything else in your marketing mix. Also, make sure it doesn’t look or sound like your competitors. It should be authentically you. And it should reinforce the emotional connection your customers have with your brand.

Don’t judge by committee

Where possible, try not to let an entire committee at your company evaluate creative work. Sure, you have stakeholders you need to involve, and that’s fine. But the more opinions you seek, the harder it’s going to be to get anything approved. Because marketing is part business and part art, it is subjective in nature and can be polarizing. You’ll likely never reach consensus when polling a large group.

Where you need to get buy-in from your team and stakeholders is during the creative brief stage. Involve them in the strategy and then when you show them the final creative, you can remind them how it aligns with the brief.

I once had a client take an ad home and ask kids in his neighborhood what they thought. Problem was, the ad wasn’t even for kids! Needless to say, the feedback he got was all over the map and only complicated the review process.

Harness the power of advertising

You know how effective marketing and advertising can be. For creative work to be effective, it should be measured against a set of standards to ensure it fits with your overall strategy and business goals. You can seek input from your team, but remember to trust your gut above all. It won’t lead you astray.

Thanks for joining us for this four-part series about working with creative agencies. By following a few tried-and-true principles, you can partner with an agency to create amazing work. If you’d like to read about choosing the right advertising agency, go back to Part 1. To learn about what you can expect while working with an ad agency, check out Part 2. For insights about trusting your agency and believing in their creative, read Part 3.