The Creative Process: Feedback Dos and Don’ts

A team of creatives having a discussion about a project


hen marketing clients and their creative teams are in sync, it’s pure magic. The copy sings, the design is showstopping, and the KPIs are beyond expectations. When they aren’t, however, miscommunications can lead to project delays. Over the years working with clients here at Hawthorn, we’ve learned that there’s one thing that can send a project in either direction: feedback.

If the goal is a beneficial, collaborative relationship that results in the best possible outcomes, it’s important to learn how to navigate this essential part of the process with care. With that in mind, we put together some of our most common dos and don’ts for giving creative feedback.

Dos and Don’ts for Providing Creative Feedback

DO clearly define your objectives. Clearly communicate the project’s goals and objectives to the creative team. Provide context about the target audience, desired brand image, and specific outcomes you’re aiming to achieve. In other words, fill out the kickoff questionnaire with as much detail as you can.

DON’T take a shot in the dark. Speaking of that kickoff questionnaire – it’s an important document in the creative process, because it gives the team a foundation from which to build the work. A nearly empty questionnaire can cause delays, and more rounds of feedback.

DO provide specific feedback. Offer detailed and specific feedback on what aspects of the creative work you like or dislike. If you are having trouble articulating what you’d like to see changed, see if you can find examples or reference points that can illustrate your ideas and guide the team in the right direction. In many cases, a picture is worth more than a thousand words.

DO consider brand identity. When reviewing your creative, make sure that the work aligns with your business’s brand identity and values. One way to avoid” off-brand” creative is to provide brand guidelines and style guides at the very beginning (along with that complete questionnaire) to maintain consistency across all marketing materials.

DON’T forget your audience. While aesthetics are important, don’t prioritize them over functionality or relevance to the target audience. Ensure that the work serves its intended purpose and delivers meaningful value to customers, or it can result in creative that looks cool, but doesn’t resonate.

DO be timely. Provide feedback in a timely manner to avoid delays in the project timeline. Prompt feedback allows the creative team to make necessary adjustments efficiently and keep the project on track. It also ensures that the creative team can still keep the schedule running smoothly through their internal processes.

DO offer constructive criticism. This phrase is thrown around a lot, but what it means is to provide suggestions in a way that does two things: one, it helps the creative team understand why you’re asking for a change, and two, it helps them understand how to improve their work. Frame feedback in a positive and supportive manner, highlighting both strengths and areas for enhancement.

DO ask questions.  Trusting the expertise of the creative team is crucial – there’s a reason you hired them to begin with! That said, it’s encouraged to ask your team to explain why they made certain creative decisions. In fact, it can make the entire process even better.

DO encourage creativity. Inspire your creative team to innovate and pursue new ideas, as long as they stay within the parameters of the project. Give them a wide berth to explore different ideas and approaches that can elevate your brand’s marketing efforts. Sometimes, the team comes up with an idea that you didn’t even know your project needed. Embrace collaboration as an opportunity to bring together diverse perspectives and achieve better outcomes.

DO communicate preferences. Being clear about any specific preferences or requirements upfront helps avoid misunderstandings later on. The questionnaire or kick off call is the perfect place to provide detailed information about your expectations regarding design elements, messaging tone, brand identity, and any other relevant factors. When this happens early in the process, the creative team can tailor their work to meet your vision and avoid unnecessary back and forth.

DON’T personalize feedback. While preferences are good, asking the creative team to change a color because you personally don’t like it isn’t constructive. (This happens more than you’d expect.) Remember that you likely aren’t the target audience and remain focused on the project’s goals.

Find out more about working with a brand agency, and check out our full list of services. Our in-house writers and designers have years of experience collaborating with hospitality clients to create successful marketing campaigns.


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