February, 2014

How to Give Constructive Feedback to Your Designer

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by Nancy No Comments


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.


The creative brief allows all parties to revisit the criteria spelled out for the project and to identify where the problems occur.

For example:

• 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".

“Just Make It Look Pretty”

Posted on: February 15th, 2014 by Lina No Comments


"Just make it look pretty". I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard these words. Fighting the urge to run for the hills, I take a deep breath and begin the process of filtering out what is meant by “pretty.“

Usually this statement boils down to a few key points, make it functional, easy to read, pleasing to look at and elicit a response from the viewer (aka “actionable”).

These key points are great, but just part of the puzzle. It doesn’t answer the who, what, when, where, why and how questions—all necessary and relevant to designing creative content. How are these questions best answered? Typically via a Creative Brief, ideally put together by the Client (sometimes the Designer) or in the best case scenario by both parties. This process gives everyone a chance to add relevant information to create an easy reference tool for use during the project cycle.

A creative brief is important for both Designer and Client. It will have background information about the project, such as why the product/service was created. It will also include any branding or creative information about the product/service, such as taglines, logos or boilerplates and list any key stakeholders or decision makers in the project. Most importantly, it will have answers to questions such as who is the target audience? What are the benefits and features of the product or service? When is the project due? Where is the product/service available? Why is this product/service desirable? Lastly, it will also state what is the “actionable" goal or objective of the project. How does the viewer interact with the final creative? Ideally this would be a short sentence of the kind of response the creative should elicit the viewer to do, feel or think.

In short, the Creative Brief serves as a road map for the creative direction of the project. It can also be used to measure the effectiveness of the final creative work. Does it meet the objective? Does it convey the intended message? Is it on brand? Does it speak to the target audience?

Sometimes it can be tempting to “Just make it look pretty”, but you’re only doing everyone a disservice by overlooking this handy tool that all parties can reference and use to measure goals. Taking a couple of hours at the beginning to set up a creative brief will save everyone time, money, heartache and disappointment. It builds a common bond that helps everyone work together in a timely and more efficient manner. “Actionable” responses from creative work translates to more money for the Client and more work and referrals for the Designer. Now that is a more effective and compelling outcome than “just make it look pretty.”

In need of a Sample Creative Brief?

Download our complimentary Creative Brief file: http://bit.ly/1dtL4ly

Phoenix Logo Design for Pivot Medical

Posted on: February 4th, 2014 by Maggie No Comments


Sometimes, our clients have a pretty clear vision of the kind of logo they would like to have. The concept can be driven by business decisions, personal taste or something as simple as the product name. When Pivot Medical came to us for a logo design, they had an idea that it should resemble a Phoenix bird to match the name of their new device, the Phoenix Healing Response System — a device comprised of the necessary tools to easily access hip chondral lesions without obstruction.

With a product launch weeks away and supporting materials (data sheets and technique guides) to also design, time was critical. We were able to quickly bring their idea to life by incorporating the symbol of the mythical Phoenix bird in place of the "o" in the word Phoenix. This gave the letter focused logotype more personality. We presented several design options using this approach and a mix of stock and custom illustrations. All logo designs exceeded the clients' expectations. The chosen logo features the Phoenix with soaring wings to represent renewal superimposed over a solid filled "o" to represent fire. The color usage is a burnt red hue to also evoke fire and complement other colors in the Pivot Medical brand family. All deliverables were completed in time for product launch.

Phoenix logo from Tetra Design Group on Vimeo.