Giving good feedback and constructive criticism to creatives can be challenging — we would know. The truth is, we creatives are proud of our work. It’s enmeshed with our egos.
But, giving good creative feedback is important to achieving the best final output. Creatives need to know what is working and why it is good. What we have learned over the years is that it’s imperative to learn what a creative needs to hear in order to draw the best version out of themselves.
How do you give good feedback to creatives so that you end up with a final output everyone is proud of? If you’d like to provide great feedback to creatives, consider the following tips.
1. Start with something positive
The first thing necessary to provide good creative feedback is starting it with a positive note. Always begin your feedback with what you like about the creative work. If you love the visual, say it. Or, if you think the copy is witty, let the creative know.
Starting a feedback session with positive language puts the other person in a receptive frame of mind, so they would be more open to receiving criticism next. A little positive feedback goes a long way to helping the creatives feel appreciated for their hard work, which can lead to a more motivated team.
Giving good creative feedback is important to achieving the best final output. Creatives need to know what is working and why it is good.
2. Be honest.
You want to be honest without being dismissive. You want to get your message across as clearly as you can without being blunt. While honesty is imperative, make sure to convey it in a way that will help your creative team and not hurt their feelings.
Our advice is a little tact goes a long way. Pay attention to your tone and your choice of words. For example, saying “I find it hard to understand this” is far better than “No one will understand this.”
Avoid “you” statements which may make your creatives feel that you are punishing them. Remember that both you and the creative team want the work to be the best.
3. Be specific
“Punch up the copy.”
“Make the colours pop more.”
“Make the headline bigger.”
Giving lofty and vague feedback will not help your creative team to move towards the finishing mark. The aim is off and both of you will be looking at totally different targets.
For example, if you are giving notes on an animation video, instead of saying something like “It’s too fast,” you can say, “Can you make sure each frame plays for at least 5 seconds before moving on to the next, so that people will have the time to read the copy?”
4. Ask questions
Before giving feedback on the creative work, ask your creative team to walk you through their reasoning. Asking questions will open a conversation and turn a feedback or a critique into a discussion.
Asking “Can you help me to understand the thought process behind this social media plan?” will give you better insight into how the creatives conceptualised the creative work. Similarly, your questions will also help creatives to see the gap in their work.
5. Consolidate your feedback
To prevent the feedback process from getting bogged down in endless back-and-forth comments, remember to consolidate your feedback. If multiple people need to approve the final creative output, gather all their thoughts before sharing them with the creative.
One small reminder — be mindful about whose opinion you solicit as well.
It’s also important to refer to the creative brief as feedback is given. Sift through redundant feedback or conflicting comments and eliminate criticism that are not constructive. Refer to the creative brief as you give feedback. This helps you to know which feedback to pursue or ditch.
6. Find the problem, not the solution
An unfortunate thing happens when people get into critic mode: They often skip to the solution (“Change to an Asian talent”), instead of conveying the problem of the creative work.
State what the problem is with the creative work and explain why your suggestion is necessary (“The visual features European talents, which may come off jarring as we are targeting locals”). Providing reasons for your criticism leads to better understanding of a problem, and hopefully, a more creative solution.
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