How to evaluate creative

There is no “best way” to evaluate creative; here is a suggestion.  It applies to all types of creative:  your website, newsletters, direct mail letters, advertisements, press releases, emails,  mailing inserts, elevator speech, presentations to major donors, social media, annual report, etc.   Identify every communication piece you create and consider each as a “face” for your non-profit.  Your goal is to ensure that each items focuses on the key messages and is consistent with your brand.

First read the non-verbal cues:Gaming-Hearts-icon

In any form of communication, messages are sent verbally and non-verbally.  Same for your non-profit.

  • how do you feel in the first few seconds?
  • expect that you may not be able to put your emotions into words.  Try to think of adjectives: busy, safe, innovative, condescending, sad, clean, scary, boring, intriguing, didn’t understand, happy, etc.
  • you may be embarrassed to say your reactions.  You may think it is too minor a point.  You may think you are the only one that thinks that way.  You may not want to hurt the feelings of your staff.  Listen to your inner voice.  Be honest and direct.  Then decide if your reaction is a personal idiosyncrasy or shared with others.
  • make a mental note of what track your eyes takes.  Are the important points in bigger type face?
  • remember this step because you won’t get a first impression again.

Now, the logical part:images-37

  • ensure that all the points in the Brand Checklist are covered.
  • if you made a Creative Brief, review that too.
  • is it consistent with other pieces in the same medium (place them side by side)
  • is it consistent with your brand image in other media (place them side by side)
  • put it in real surroundings (place the ad in the middle of today’s paper, put a letter in an envelope with all inserts and what the envelope looks like, etc).
  • Is there enough white space?
  • does the visual communicate the strategic benefit?  Does it demonstrate what you hope to accomplish?
  • does the headline communicate the strategic benefit and stand out sufficiently?
  • do the visual and the headline reinforce each other?  Do they communicate the basic idea with help from the text?
  • does the text answer “What’s in it for me?”
  • is the text as succinct as possible?  Review that every word is necessary. Less is more.
  • are there witticisms that may be hard for some readers to understand?
  • Is there something too memorable that would distract from your non-profit?  (eg celebrities with no clear and logical connection to you, very graphic photos, etc)
  • does the call-to-action stand out (your logo, phone number, etc)

Other things to think about:

  • if the work is pro bono, you need to be adventurous. Agencies take on pro bono work to give back to the community, but it also gives their creative staff the freedom that they don’t get with paid work and to build their client presentation portfolios.
  • you might need to go through this process twice: first for the typed early draft and second for final layout.  In early drafts, focus on your top 3 comments. In later drafts, you can get picky.
  • share the wealth.  Ask many employees for their input to generate a sense of belonging.  Have a “lunch and learn” to teach interested staff on how to evaluate creative and then put them in a panel for future creatives.  Pick panel members based on diversity of ethnicity, age, gender, education, etc.