Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What independent Designers Ought to Know About Creative Reviews Part 2

In my first post on creative reviews I discussed the what, when and who of this customer building exercise now I will give you the how for the brainstorming segment of your creative review. Following is what worked for me and a large health nonprofit.

Before you engage your client ask yourself—
What do we want to get out of this meeting with (your client's name here)?

Here was my list that I shared with my team members

• To identify initiatives and themes that might be highlighted for the coming year.

• To identify new branding initiatives and how they might be incorporated into forthcoming creative and testing,

• Get honest feedback from the client on the communication stream—both the tone and
manner of the copy and design

• To have this creative review seen as a fun, engaging, relaxed and productive session.

• To create an environment that is visually stimulating, with samples of work mounted on boards for review, the big ideas drawn for all to see, and collaboration the keyword.

The brainstorming part of the creative review:
Several interactive brainstorming techniques were used to keep the session from becoming too dry—the aim to generate as many new ideas as possible within a set time limit. For some of the clients this is the first time they have ever had any insight into the mind of the creatives that produce their work.

Ground rules: Every idea has validity and should not be discarded or shot down.
Follow-up: After the workshop is over the ideas can be catalogued and turned into a resource document for future brainstorming with the client.

Here was my checklist for the big day:
• A review document that illustrates the reviewed creative samples
• Illustration Board
• Stop Watch
• Mount samples on presentation boards
• Plastic sleeves for multi-page creative pieces

In a gift bag were the following along with the review document
• Toys (stress relievers),
• Candy (for energy)
• Multi-colored sticky notes,
• Pens and unruled pads for each participant

The Agenda
1. Ice-breaker exercise: Use a Mad Libs exercise and restrict it to words from the client's business, marketing terms, and creative areas.

2. Present a snapshot: Discuss the data metrics for each campaign, if you have them

3. Present the creative: Cover your design approach and how it integrates with the
copy. Discuss how each piece contributes to a strategic objective that is near and dear to a
client's heart—customer-centric thinking, edgy product offerings, easy-to-use product
features, etc.

4. Take a much deserved lunch break: Get to know you client informally, ask about
them, if business comes up fine. But try to keep it low key. You might want to bring out the
competetive samples at the end of lunch to segue back into working mode.

5. Brainstorming at the speed of light: No editing, just quick thoughts: This exercise is
meant to generate as many ideas as possible. Break into two groups and write down as
many ideas as you can 10 minutes. Then allow 5 minutes to prepare a mini-presentation to the entire group.
• Large pads of paper
• Multi-colored felt tip pens
• Stop Watch

If there is time, here is one more exercise:

6. Thematic Brainstorming: In this exercise a variety of topics having to do with a package’s attributes are addressed. This could be a team-oriented exercise where the group is broken up into smaller groups to tackle a theme—for instance:
• The Package
• The Format
• The Copy
• The Theme
• The Visual Apeal
Everyone generates as many ideas around that theme as possible on a sticky note pad, one to a page. Then they get stuck to a board that has the theme emblazoned on it, and the idea is announced with no discussion. Once all the themes have been dealt with, discuss the possibilities.

Follow-up: After the workshop is over the ideas can be catalogued and turned in a resource document for future brainstorming with the client.

Use snail mail: Send a handwritten note to your client and thank them for their time!


© Copyright 2009 Guy Arceneaux All rights reserved.