Milton Glaser, the elder statesman of graphic design, once instructed a group of designers:
"There are three responses to a design presentation - yes, no and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for".
As desirable as "WOW" and even "Yes" are, occasionally "No" is the inevitable response to a presentation that lands with a thud. Creative briefs, no matter how well written or thought out, don't always prevent honest misunderstandings on the part of your creative team.
As uncomfortable as this situation may be, especially if a tight deadline is looming, there are ways to get things back on track.
The first step is, don't panic! Your designers are just as anxious to fix the problem and will be open to (and appreciate) your constructive feedback.
The second thing is to not lay blame or point fingers. Everyone invested in the project needs to focus on a solution quickly, so it's time to pull together.
Subjective observations such as "I don't like the font" or "I don't like that color" are not as useful as "the font doesn't really work with the message we're trying to convey" or " that color will not resonate with our target audience".
The best way to keep the feedback relevant and on point is by going back to the creative brief.
USE THE CREATIVE BRIEF
The creative brief allows all parties to revisit the criteria spelled out for the project and to identify where the problems occur.
• Take another look at the project objective. If the creative does not meet this objective then a discussion identifying any confusion over this is the first step.
• Review the key message. Is it clear, concise and to the point? Any ambiguity can lead to incorrect assumptions which may also throw the creative off.
• Is the creative appropriate to your target audience? If not, go back and review the criteria outlined in the creative brief to make sure that it's clearly understood.
Using the creative brief as a way to give constructive feedback will give your designers the tools they need to get the project moving in the right direction so they can turn the creative presentation from a "No" to a "WOW".