What do I do if I don’t like what my agency has done?
Creative projects are some of the most fun to work on, so when they take a turn for the worse it can be incredibly disheartening. Miscommunication, clashing opinions and a change in focus/end goals (amongst a whole host of other things) can all cause disruption to a project. Once doubt has been planted it can be hard to shake off and get back on track.
So, what to do when it all goes wrong?
Identify the issues
MoMA’s Design Store (New York) went from being a museum gift shop to a design destination. Every product is put under intense scrutiny before it reaches the shelves:
- Is it useful?
- Does it solve a problem?
- Does it use materials or technology in an innovative way?
- Does it relate to the museum’s design collection?
- Will our customer buy it?
Creative is incredibly hard to judge without being subjective. Personal preferences, current trends and even working relationships can influence our thoughts and decisions on what we do and don’t like. Relating back to a criteria that’s specific to the project needs will help you to be objective when identifying exactly what it is you don’t like about creative work.
Does it link back to your goals and objectives that were set in the creative brief? Does it represent the business and its values? Does it resonate with your target market? Questions like these will help you dive beneath subjective dislikes and allow you to have honest discussions with your creative team based on real problems.
Talk to your agency
Miscommunication and misunderstanding can often be to blame when creative isn’t quite right. Be sure that any feedback you’re giving (or yet to give) is clear, concise and constructive before you decide to pull the plug completely. In addition, good feedback is going to save you time and money in the long run. Which is never a bad thing.
If you’re struggling, then the points below should help ensure your feedback is kept constructive and clear:
- Following on from the point above, remaining objective is crucial to giving useful feedback to designers. You know your market and customer better than anyone, so all decisions should be made with them in mind. Keep your ultimate checklist visible, so original project objectives are never forgotten or diluted.
- Giving reason for your feedback will help provide insight and purpose for your points. Including these extra details will open discussions and, ultimately, collaboration between both sides. Thoughts that might seem obvious to you may have passed others by, so make sure they’re not missed.
- Say what you mean. Be clear and concise. If you don’t like where creative is going, say so. As a creative there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve cracked it when the reality is quite the opposite.
- Making any amount of changes has the potential to affect timelines (and therefore deadlines), so it’s good practice to try and roughly prioritise your feedback prior to sharing. Creatives should (and will) push back and question amends if they feel it’s not right for the end goal, so be prepared to listen and take onboard their thoughts too.
Designers, despite having a reputation for being overly attached to their work, ultimately want to produce creative that clients are proud of and users believe in. Remember; you’re both on the same team, so if you’re finding yourself in an ‘us vs them’ situation then perhaps it’s time to cut your losses…
Just like relationships, the awkward break up conversation is always better in person. Having an honest, albeit difficult, chat about why it’s not quite working out can be a great opportunity for both sides to get feedback. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What can you both learn from the situation? Taking time to reflect ensures no party is left feeling hard done by.
Changing agency doesn’t necessarily mean changing everything. Take a bit of time to review where you’re currently at creatively and see if there’s anything you’d like to salvage. And when the time comes to look for a new agency, be sure to really consider what it is you want out of a creative partner (we’ve got a guide for that, too).
It’s worth noting that going elsewhere will likely incur an increase in investment, both in time and money. This isn’t always the case, however it’s unlikely you’ll end up with something you like better with half the budget and a shorter deadline.
Remember – there is never a wrong time to voice your concerns if you feel things aren’t going quite the way you planned or hoped. Pull the plaster off and talk to your agency. Good luck – you know where we are if you need us…!