2 min Read
September 18, 2009

Feedback that Doesn’t Screech Through the Loudspeakers Episode III: Not Tenants or Tennis, but Tenets

Welcome back to our series about feedback. If you haven’t read our intro ramblings or our suggestions about preparation, you still can. Otherwise, read on…

If you’ve ever worked on a fundraising campaign or a website redesign or any other activity that requires either a creative agency or freelance designers and copywriters, you’ve probably seen a lot of work you hated. We hope that you’ve also seen a lot of work with which you’ve been thrilled.

But you probably know first-hand that getting there can be difficult, especially when dealing with the “quirks of the creative personality.” (We can say that because we’re “creatives,” as we’re called in the biz. We wouldn’t recommend discussing the quirks of the creative personality directly with creatives with quirky personalities.)

How then do you work with these creatives (who so unabashedly turn a perfectly good adjective into a noun)? How do you make sure they have everything they need to produce the quality of work you require, without inadvertently getting them to take their concepts and go home, leaving only a wake of profanity behind them?

There are three simple tenets you should keep in mind when working with creatives, and you should let them guide not only your responses but also your attitude:

  1. Be realistic. It’s pretty rare that a writer or designer will hit it out of the park the first time (although it does happen from time to time), so come to the meeting with tempered expectations. Excitement is fine and encouraged, as long as your excitement isn’t also setting you up for inevitable disappointment. Also, the chances are good, especially if you’re dealing with a brand overhaul (new logo, tagline, etc.), that you’ve been thinking about this for months, if not years. The creative team has only had a few weeks at most.
  2. Be respectful. Assume we creatives are a moody, oversensitive bunch of ninnies. Even if your freelancer has super thick skin, you’ll score a lot of points for sensitive feedback, if you stay positive and kind. We also like it when you consider us an extension of your team. We take ownership of the work we do and get excited about it. Our goal is to make you shine. So we spend hours thinking, debating, sketching, discussing, brainstorming, scribbling down random thoughts, writing, whining, designing.
  3. Be honest. Even if we’re a bit touchy and oversensitive, we can take honesty. If we couldn’t we wouldn’t be in this business. Be frank about what you think. In fact, we prefer frankness. Just don’t be a big ol’ meanie, please. You want good results and so do we; let’s play like a team.

Learn and live these three simple tenets before you see any creative work. It will make your collaboration a much happier affair.

Coming up next time on Feedback that Doesn’t Screech Through the Loudspeakers… You hate the work. Now what?

Dan Gunderman

Dan Gunderman is the Former Creative Director at Big Duck

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