September 6th 2016

When a bad creative brief turns to shit

by Martin O'Toole

Just recently, we had a rather protracted and painful experience with a client and their feedback on some design work we were doing for their new PowerPoint deck. The story seemed worth sharing, as we could all no doubt learn a lesson from it.

You see, it all started after we'd done a load of strategic work with this client on their brand tone of voice and positioning in general. They were so happy with it that they asked us to give a load of their brand collateral a (much-needed) refresh.

The importance of identifying the creative decision-maker

Things were going rather swimmingly with our client - loads of great feedback on the look and feel of the new design work - but then the CEO left out of the blue - and our contact suddenly received a load of rather negative feedback on our work - from the new CEO. This, as many of us know is where things can get messy rather quickly...

Apparently, whilst our contact really liked the work we'd done, the new CEO was far from impressed and thus, wanted to set us a new challenge - i.e. to include the redesign of their case study slide. Not usually a complex job under the circumstances, though the way this was positioned to us, you'd think we were repainting the fucking Sistine Chapel ceiling rather than redesigning a PowerPoint slide for a logistics company.

Anyway... So we redesigned their case study slide (the original one was really nasty) and sent off a couple of options to our client - all inline with the new design which had already been approved. Suddenly, the feedback came: "It just hasn't got the 'WOW' factor, has it..."

Imagine our surprise. Firstly, our redesign was already much better than the crap they were using. Notwithstanding that, one had to wonder: "How does one give a PowerPoint case study slide the 'WOW' factor?!"

Naturally, we asked for a little more information on said 'WOW factor', but were not given anything else particularly useful to go on, other than the fact that it just didn't "do it" for the client. Those of you involved in the design process will know how useless feedback like this really is - and how frustrating it is for the people trying to create something nice - whilst trying to keep the client happy.

However, on this occasion, we went back FOUR TIMES with alternative designs (best comment would have to be "The new CEO doesn't like orange" (their main brand colour)). It was at this point that the unthinkable happened. Our designer on the project (bloody good, in the business over 20 years, patient as a trout fisherman) literally lost her shit and threw the towel in mid-project!! I'm laughing as I write this, but at the time, it was rather disconcerting... I mean she'd LITERALLY had enough - with her final email being a rant along the lines of: "WTF is the f***ing 'WOW factor' anyway?!"

Next email I got from her was empty - all bar this attachment:


When your client says: "It just hasn't got the 'WOW' factor" and your designer literally loses their shit... When your client says: "It just hasn't got the 'WOW' factor" and your designer literally loses their shit

It definitely has the 'WOW factor' I think. We're just waiting to learn the licensing costs for the Chris Martin and Usain Bolt images.

The point

Apart from demonstrating that Fist of Fury is the go-to for stunning presentation design? That we were dealing with the wrong point of contact, yet didn't have the bollocks to say anything about it. Hardly smart, hardly bold, hardly honest and not very bright. Where did it get us? A loss-making account, being dictated to by a logistician with no creative or marketing qualifications - stuck between a rock and a hard place (poor chap), with the real decision-makers being the people we should've dealt with from the offset.


Anyway... we live and learn, right? And we're still laughing about the 'WOW FACTOR' slide design which sadly never saw the light of day (until now).

If you'd like the 'WOW factor' putting into your design work then look no further. Click on the link below to find out how a fireball-juggling cat can make all the difference to your branded collateral.

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