“Can we make the pig sexier?”

“I’ll know what I want when I see it.”

“Just jazz it up a bit.”

These bits of feedback received by a network of designers, illustrators and art directors inspired a poster exhibition in Ireland.

While bad feedback might make creatives laugh over a wind-down pint in the pub – or, indeed, lead to an excellent exhibition – it can make projects slow and painful for everyone involved. Good feedback, however, can save you time, stress and late nights fixing things that should never have happened. It’ll keep your costs down too.

Here are four ideas for feeding back on copy and design that will help your creative team get it right first time:

  1. Be honest and upfront
    If you’re not sure about something, say so. The longer you wait to express your concerns, the harder or more time consuming it will be to change copy or design that isn’t working. Remember, “I don’t like it” will need supporting with a bit more detail. Start by referring back to your brief and pointing out anything that doesn’t fit. A good creative will respond well to feedback and look for the best solutions to your challenges.
  1. Give specifics
    If it’s “off brand”, try and point out which part of the guidelines it contradicts. Rather than “It needs to be more engaging”, is there more you can tell your creative about how you want to engage people? What is it that you want your audience to do after they’ve read the communication? A good creative should have asked you those questions before they’ve put finger to keyboard.
  1. Ask for solutions
    Let the designer or writer come up with the solution instead of trying to solve the problem yourself – that’s what you’ve paid them for after all. For example, rather than asking the designer to make the text and pictures bigger, remind them that a lot of your supporters are over 70 so the design needs to be accessible. That way the designer can use their expertise to pick the best colours, text size and layout that are effective and meet your brief. Or, instead of rewriting a headline yourself, tell the copywriter why you think it doesn’t work for your audience. Ask them to come up with several alternative suggestions for you to choose from.
  1. Make use of expertise
    If you suggest a change that isn’t possible or just won’t work, a good creative will always tell you why. And they’ll come back with an alternative solution. If they don’t, challenge them.

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