Why Effective Creative Feedback is not Dead!

I’ve picked up some great tools from the most unlikely of sources on giving creatives direction. A while ago I worked as a commercial and film director. I learned early that one of the most difficult parts of directing was not the technical part. For instance, if you hired a good lighting crew the lighting would likely be great. But the one thing that you couldn’t hire away was thedirection you gave actors.

I thought: this should be easy! All I had to do was tell the actor what I wanted and –BAM – they would do it. Let's say – make this scene better by being funny.

Here is where a strange thing happened.

The actor would interpret what he or she thought was my “funny” and not their genuine “funny”. In other words, my direction created an artificial feeling with artificial emotions. Few things are worse than fake. And that’s what I got.

Simply put the actor was more interested in my interpretation of funny then their own because actors just want to get it right and please their client.Creatives are the same.

Although my creatives are not acting out a scene, I use the language of emotion to convey direction so that my creatives form a genuine association and connection to their work. Their emotion needs to come from within them -- in a real and tangible way. Not from me – and not from what they ‘think’ I mean.

Early in my career I gave lots of result direction. Direction where I wanted results. Results like “change the color” or “take a look at the kerning” or “move the logo” or whatever. But just like with the actor, I seldom got what I was looking for.

Now I use the langue of emotion to give creative direction. Most times it turns out to be not what you had expected – but even better.

The language of emotion creates a completely relatable way to convey direction but leaves the ultimate problem solving up to the creative.

For instance, if a comp is full of clutter and has too many colors, I’ll simply say “it feels loud – is that what you were going for?”. If the art and copy is too dark or contrasty I will say “It’s a bit moody” or “It feels sad” or whatever.

 Then I leave it up to them to make it their own.

I find that a creative will never learn if you tell them exactly what to do – crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ for them. There is a journey to creativity and you are merely the guide.

I say things like “how does this make you feel” or “what do you think this piece of art and copy will make our audience think” etc. Then I leave the creative to do what God gifted them with. Their creative output turns out to be genuine this way – a real emotional connection -- and the results resonate far better than expected.

Nir Bashan is an executive creative director with over 16 years of advertising, entertainment and business development experience.  He writes on topics coveringadvertising, media, creative solutions and workforce management.  http://www.nirbashan.com/blog | nir.bashan1@gmail.com