Where’s your Goldilocks Zone? You know, the place where everything is just right? See, Goldilocks, adorable little criminal that she was, might have had a penchant for breaking and entering, but she also knew what she liked. Bed too hard? Too soft? Never fear—Goldie will try them all until she finds the perfect fit. Porridge too hot? Not for our heroine. She’ll keep tasting until something meets her expectations.

 

Communicating with creatives is a lot like this old fairytale. The creatives, well, they’re the bears—each with their own unique needs, wants and preferences. And you’re Goldie—trying to get things just right. It can be hard to find the Goldilocks Zone when it comes to communicating information to creatives, but it can be done. Here are a few tips to help you find the happy medium.

 

Set Expectations

Probably the most important key for any process, setting expectations needs to be done early and revisited often. Creatives need space to roam as they ideate on a project, but if they don’t know what you want, they won’t be able to deliver. You can give creatives the freedom to explore while still setting guidelines. Clearly lay out which deadlines are absolute musts, and what you/the client expects to see at each phase of the process. Outline deliverables and any required elements like taglines, color palettes, logos, etc., and then ease up on the reins and let the creative do what they do best—create.

 

Embrace Ideas

You’ve heard that saying about kissing a lot of frogs until you find your prince, right? Think of ideas as frogs—you have to get uncomfortably close to a lot of really bad ones before you find the winner. Creatives are kind of in the business of ideas. But even the most talented creative is going to come up with a few duds, and that’s more than okay. Be open to hearing the creative’s ideas, no matter how far out there they may seem. Listen with an open mind and a critical ear. You don’t have to love every light bulb, but it helps when you have a rationale behind why it’s not sparking for you.

 

Use Examples

So here are a couple more tired clichés for you: there are no original ideas, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While both sentiments can be argued, the fact remains that seeing what other successful campaigns are doing never hurts, especially when your client is striving for the same feel, tone or look. It can be hard to put into words what you’re looking for, so put it into pictures instead. Share images, videos, or entire campaigns with the creative, and point out the elements you/the client likes best. It also helps to show a “what not to do” example as well.

 

If You Don’t Know, We Don’t Know

Creatives aren’t mind readers. They’re often intuitive, and can find creative solutions you would never have dreamed of. But if they don’t get a reliable sense of the direction they’re supposed to follow, it’s easy for them, and the project, to get lost. The bottom line is, if you don’t know what the client wants, neither will the creative. Make sure you’re on the same page with the client, and make sure you’re able to communicate their needs and wants. When they give you a direction, repeat it back to them in your own words to make sure you’ve got it. Have the creative do the same for you. It’s like a game of telephone, except the goal is to make sure the message stays the same from person to person.

 

Details Matter… Except When They Don’t

This is where it’s hard to be in the Goldilocks Zone. You either have a dossier that could fill an IKEA bookshelf full of information, or you have the client’s name and… that’s about it. It can be feast or famine when it comes to getting information for a creative campaign, but when you ask the client the right questions, you often get the answers to send the creative down the right path. Find out what’s most pertinent to the project, and relay it as accurately as possible. There’s no need to bombard the creative with specifics that won’t ultimately matter, but they need to have enough to develop ideas.

 

Give it Time

You’ve met with the creative and gone over the brief. You’ve let him/her run with the project. You’ve given the creative space, thoughtful feedback… and the project still isn’t right. If something just isn’t clicking, take a step back. That’s hard to do in a fast-paced industry where deadlines are always looming, but try to take a bit of the pressure off, and instead of attempting to force a solution now, let the project breathe for as long as you can. If it’s only an hour, then it’s only an hour. But communicate to the creative that you need to tackle things from a different direction, and that you’re going to give them some room to do that.

 

Getting into the Goldilocks Zone is a lot harder than breaking into a fairytale cottage, but the payoff is almost always worth it. And if all else fails, you can always just ask the creative how they work best, and what they need from you to do their best work.

 

If you have any questions on how to get more out of your creative campaigns, we’ll be happy to chat with you. Contact us today and let us share some of our ideas with you!

Mark Manuszak headshot

Written by Mark Manuszak

“I put the creative meat on the strategic bones to give a client’s vision and messaging an emotional appeal.”