No, Much Different

Years ago we shared an office building with one of our largest clients. Upon returning from lunch a couple of us found a comp we’d delivered to the client the day before on the front desk. On the front cover was a Post-It note that read:

No, much different.

This incident, which happened over a decade ago, has become part of PWB folklore. It’s our metaphor for those times when we get feedback that’s just not helpful in meeting a client’s expectations. This got me to thinking – what DOES constitute helpful feedback. I think it more client-side folks understood this concept, they’d get better end results, faster turnaround, and likely even reduce costs. So here are a few:

1. Be as specific as is prudent. “It’s not cool” is much less helpful than, “I’d like a less conservative color palette”.

2. Tell us what’s working and what isn’t – don’t feel like you need to solve it for us. Our designers have decades of experience and usually we can come up with ideas that you might never have thought of.

3. Ask us before you “Chinese Menu” by mixing elements. Some elements mix, others don’t.

4. In many cases, a poor end product is the result of a number of little innocuous bad decisions leading to a design by committee. If we raise our hand with a concern on this front, it’s worth truly considering.

5. If you’re excited by something, tell us! That kind of enthusiasm is infectious.

6. We do this for a living; we don’t take criticism personally. We get more rewarded by learning how to please our clients and deliver solid solutions.

7. Unless you have Nike’s budget (and maybe shoes on Jordan’s feet), you will never attain the status of the Nike swoosh. Ever. The sooner you get past that, the easier it will be for all of us.

8. Be open-minded; you may or may not share much with the target market. It’s all too easy to let personal preferences squash good ideas.

9. Try to be mindful of your budget. If you asked for a low-cost solution and we met that, don’t ask us for 42 rounds of revisions.

10. Have fun. This isn’t brain surgery. We’ve found that sometimes light-hearted good humor led to some of our coolest and most effective creative.