Are you a good judge?

It’s important to set aside your own personal preferences and bring an open mind and rational perspectives to the table when evaluating new ad concept ideas, says Ashgrove Marketing’s Terry van Rhyn

One of the key reasons that you engage an ad agency is to find creative solutions to your problems. As a client seeking the perfect advertising concept to elevate your brand to new heights, it is essential to embark on this creative journey with enthusiasm, open-mindedness and a clear set of criteria or what success looks like. After all, advertising concepts are not just mere pretty pictures and catchy headlines and words on pages. Your message is the very essence of your brand’s communication.

But how do you judge what’s right for your campaign or your brand, and how do you stop your own preferences and bias getting in the way?

The first piece of advice I always give to a client when presenting creative work is to try and distance their personal and subjective beliefs from the brand they represent. A brand has its own identity and personality, and it does not belong to you – it belongs to your clients or customers.

Your job is that of a brand caretaker and you must listen to your audience to serve your brand – even if you personally may not agree with the tone of voice, colour palette or advertising message. It’s not about you: it’s about your audience and what they want, need and like.

Once you have cleared your mind of preconceived ideas, there are a number of factors you should consider:

Alignment with brand identity

At the core of any successful advertising campaign lies the seamless alignment with the brand’s identity. A good concept should be an authentic representation of your brand’s values, personality, and overarching message. Consider how well the concept resonates with your target audience and whether it can create a lasting emotional connection. If the concept encapsulates and supports your brand essence, you’re on the right track.

Creativity that ignites imagination

This is where things can become tricky and require a degree of bravery and trust. Great advertising concepts are born from boundless creativity and imagination – often from the opposite side of the spectrum to which a client would typically feel comfortable with. The idea presented should be innovative, fresh and distinctive, exposing a new and original way of looking at solving a problem. It should capture attention, stand out from its competitors, and make an indelible mark on the minds of the target audience. An imaginative concept demonstrates that the agency has gone beyond the obvious and is willing to push the boundaries to deliver something extraordinary.

Clear and compelling message

An effective advertising concept communicates its message with crystal clarity and simplicity is key. It should be easy to understand, and the main thrust should be instantly recognisable. Complex concepts or unclear messages can confuse your audience and dilute the impact of your campaign. Look for creative concepts that convey the message in a straightforward, memorable, and impactful way.

Emotional appeal and authenticity

Advertising is not just about rational persuasion, it’s about evoking emotions that resonate with your audience. This means you need to understand the psychology of behaviour patterns and how your specific audience makes purchasing decisions. An exceptional concept tugs at heartstrings, creates joy, or sparks curiosity, but ultimately it must encourage the audience to take action. Furthermore, the concept should not feel forced or fake. Authenticity builds trust, and a genuine concept will resonate with a genuine audience.

Adaptability and versatility

Consider how the concept will translate across various media channels and marketing platforms. In today’s digital landscape, it’s vital to have a concept that can transition seamlessly from print to social media, from television to mobile devices. A versatile concept ensures consistent messaging and a unified brand experience across all touchpoints.

Measurable impact and objectives

An excellent concept is not just captivating; it should be designed with measurable objectives in mind. Discuss with your agency how the concept aligns with your business and marketing goals and how its success can be tracked and evaluated. Sharing insight to realistic probable outcomes from the outset will help both you and your agency stay focused on the endgame. Some brand awareness campaigns are difficult to measure and in those cases you can simply track sales activity or increases in social media followers (if relevant), depending on your key performance indicators.

Market research and consumer insights

A good advertising concept is not created in isolation. It should be based on a thorough understanding of your target market and consumer insights. A concept that addresses the pain points, desires and aspirations of your audience will have a far greater chance of success. It’s important to spend enough time on understanding the audience you want to reach and sharing that with your creative agency who should, in turn, be able to bring their own insights to the party. New business development is at the core of any successful business.

Budget considerations

While creativity knows no bounds, practicality must be considered. Ensure that the proposed concept aligns with your budget constraints. Establishing finite budget parameters at the outset means not only does the agency know what it has to work with but you, as the client, know what you can realistically achieve. A concept that perfectly balances creativity with practicality is a winning formula.

At the end of the day, an advertising agency’s goal is to create a concept that becomes an integral part of your brand’s journey. By understanding your perspective, they are able to craft ideas that will elevate your brand and leave a lasting impression on your audience.

If you approach the evaluation process with enthusiasm and a willingness to collaborate, and mindful of the points above, together you can create advertising concepts that will shape the future of your brand and business.