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Implementing Competition into Your Creative Design Process

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Smaller advertising agencies and marketing design firms have a special challenge when it comes to consistently delivering a quality work product. Here are five simple ways to insert competition into your creative design process:

Competition by Design

  1. Creative Options are Everything
    Whether you’re a creative director, account executive, art director or writer, never argue over a design approach or design elements or fonts or images. Sure defend your work. Defend your reasoning. But at a certain point, fighting over a very subjective idea becomes counterproductive. It’s frustrating, a waste of time and causes resentment. The simple solution is this: let opposing parties each submit their own design. These options now get to compete against each other with the client as the final arbiter. It lets everyone contribute their talents but most importantly, it provides options for the client. As Ayn Rand said, “Where there are no alternatives, no value is possible.”
  2. Set the Creative Bar High
    At the start of every creative or marketing challenge, it’s imperative to use visual benchmarks to get your advertising team on the same page, visually speaking. Have your designer do research and come back with a variety of creative inspiration that applies to this new challenge. Post these benchmarks—print ads, billboards, websites, marketing videos, etc.—on the wall as a constant reminder of the creative standard to be achieved. Your advertising team is now in an informal competition to come up with something better.
  3. Go to Your Creative Corners
    This is the most popular and most used method, especially in a larger ad agency when you’re pitching spec work or responding to a creative RFP. However, smaller ad agencies should use it for all creative projects, large and small. Simply have two designers or creative teams independently develop their work based on a common creative brief. This requires more time and effort, but the results will go a long way toward delivering value to your clients.
  4. Let Your Clients in on the Competition
    Speaking of clients—definitely let them know you’re engaged in these internal competitions as a means to raise your creative standards. Competition begets excellence. It exists everywhere in life without exception. Even in the abstract world of design and advertising. Your clients will appreciate the effort and the spirit of striving to be the best. After all, they are the only judge that matters.
  5. Best in Show
    Finally, what’s a competition without awards? Develop a fun, fair and informal system of rewards for winning designs or design teams. It’s a great way to provide individual recognition within your ad agency, marketing company or design firm.