Listen up Marketing Vice-Presidents, Professionals, Brand Managers, Ambassadors and Gurus… I know only too well that it’s hard to separate yourself from the Brand you’re responsible for. After all, you work it, live it, breath it – 24/7. You understand it intimately, better than anyone else. You define its market and potential, watch its competitors (with disdain!), develop the strategy that will give it wings, provide its raison d’être (USP). Then – fight for the budget by promising the powers that be that just around the corner, there’s profit to be had (ROI)… if only they would believe, like you believe.

When you’ve done all all that and successfully received the sought after funds, you need to entrust it to an “outsider” (yes, an advertising agency!) to communicate to the world what you know is this Brand’s promise and truth… The “how”  and the “why” of it.

So off goes the agency’s team, armed with your Communications Brief, Brand Guidelines, Brand’s positioning statement, market assessment and competitor’s information. They come back with creative that responds to brief, the market conditions and provides a good solid plan on how to obtain the objective that is required for that ever elusive ROI.

That’s when it begins, the shift from professional objectivity to personal judgement. That’s when business and marketing professionals change hats and become emotional human beings. The tweaks, the design directives, the micro management of font selection, type treatment, the scrutiny, the judgement calls, all about the creative. I am not suggesting for one minute that all agency work is on target, on point or on brief. Although, I am not quite sure how it can’t be if the brief provided was correct. The development and creation of Marketing Creative and ideation is very rational. Rationality doesn’t take away from creativity. Quite the contrary, it adds to it. Marketing creative is about thinking inside the box… the box that was created by the Brand Keeper.

Assessing Brand Creative properly is as important as writing a solid Marketing Plan. It’s important to learn how to assess creative effectively and efficiently. Here are 9 questions to ask yourself when assessing Brand Creative.

  1. Are you walking in your targets’ shoes? Remember, you aren’t the target market, even if you fit the demographic profile. You are a Marketer, and more specifically the Marketer of this product!
  2. Is the product benefit easily communicated? Is the communication efficient. Does the creative speak succinctly and effortlessly about the end benefit.
  3. Does the creative deliver? Does it offer consumers the reasons to believe so that they can take the next step in the customer journey.
  4. Does the creative adhere to Brand Guidelines? A good brand agency lives by guidelines. Any agency that doesn’t isn’t a brand agency.
  5. Is the creative in line with the Brand Persona and the Brand Voice?  This is the most subtle and intuitive part of any creative. Refer back to your communications brief for guidance.
  6. Is the creative original and Brand Unique? Does it provide a strong identification with the Brand… and only this Brand.
  7. Is it provocative? No, I don’t mean showing bare skin, I mean does it resonate and engage the audience? It must provide traction to gain brand awareness.
  8. Is it respectful to the Brand and its audience? Does it speak to consumers and not at them, does it value the consumer’s time and mind?
  9. Does it work as a unit? It’s very easy to zero in on a word, colour, or small detail. The more you focus on it, the bigger it becomes and the more you feel compelled to fix it. But don’t try to fix it yourself. Articulate what is bothering you and let the agency resolve the issue. Creative is a process, so there is always room for improvement. Make that improvement effortless by communicating the issue, rather than trying to provide the solution.

I recognize that it’s not easy to let go. Often the creative of marketing is the “fun part”. Good agencies make it appear easy, but it’s not. In closing I will only say and I know it’s hard to hear but it doesn’t matter that you, the Brand Keeper,  like purple or green, or that you prefer a serif type face or the use of a particular word. In short, it’s not about you. It’s about the Brand that you have been entrusted with. and have in turn, entrusted to brand agency to ensure its healthy growth by developing a strong brand awareness and position within the market.