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What is a framework for evaluating creative?


Once you’ve done the hard work to identify a precise brand strategy, then not to use it in your creative would be a major bummer.

Your brand strategy identifies how you can stand out to your customer in a way that’s motivating to them, while also unique to you. To pick creative that is neat but not on-strategy is to lose the differentiating power of brand.

Excellent creative is the result of excellent strategy. So, before embarking on new creative, take the time to write a tight creative brief for your creative partners. Set the strategic direction for them, so that all the creative that comes back to you is on strategy. Whether it’s new copy, a new logo, a new ad, or new photography, make sure you always start with a brief.

Okay, so you wrote a tight creative brief, you shared it with your creative partner, and they have gone off and crafted work that they want to show you. How do you approach that evaluation?

First, re-read your creative brief. Ground yourself in what you set out to do.

Second, review the creative in question.

Third, evaluate their creative work using the HOPE framework. HOPE stands for Heart, On-Point, and Execution.

  1. Heart – do you like it? As you look at this creative, do you like it? Just with your gut, no analysis, just take note of whether you liked it.
  2. On-Point – does this creative do what you set out to do? Does it accomplish what your brief designates needs to be accomplished?
  3. Execution – are there things about this creative that would bring advantage as you execute? For example, if it’s photos, will this photo reproduce well regardless of the quality of the printer? If it’s a logo that you’re evaluating, is it legible for somebody who has never heard of your brand?

As a brand strategist, I am especially interested in Step 2 – On Point. That’s because I’m surprised by how often we get struck by the bright shiny object, that clever piece of creative that isn’t on-strategy. If it’s not on strategy, it’s not going to accomplish what you need it to accomplish. So, make sure that you’re staying true to your strategic intent as you’re evaluating creative.

Do you approach creative as systematically as you approach the rest of your business?


Your brand’s creative is creative, but it is there to serve a strategic purpose. Evaluate your creative to ensure that it delivers.

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