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Creative Ops

Why on-asset feedback is a must in creative work

May 04, 2022 · 8 min read

“Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless.”

This quote from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, beautifully outlines why she’s such an effective creator. 

It also outlines why she’s probably not such an effective marketing director. 

There’s plenty of time for “timelessness” when working on a passion project — there’s not a whole lot when working on an ad campaign. 

Especially during the feedback process. 

It’s an area of the creative workflow that most directors know intuitively: 

When planning the timeline for a marketing campaign or branding project, you instinctually build in an extra few days for the marketing and creative teams to go back and forth before the asset enters the review process. 

Between your unwieldy MarTech stack and the difficulties of managing and delivering effective creative feedback, it’s easy for those “extra days” to stretch into weeks. 

“Timeless” my ass.

In the throes of a feedback fiasco and stretched for time? Here’s a TL;DR to speed up the process:

  • Creative review, and feedback in particular, is eating up time for both your creative and marketing teams.

  • If you’re like most companies, your MarTech stack is the main perpetrator, here’s why:

  1. Too many platforms in the creative kitchen: your creatives are overwhelmed with feedback and their workflow is constantly disrupted.

  2. Feedback from the marketing team takes too long to deliver, making it easy for your creatives to get off track.

  3. You haven’t democratized creative feedback and marketers are having trouble articulating their thoughts.

  • In addition to blocking creative development, this haphazard feedback process reduces the ability of your teams to work well together

  • Air’s dynamic feedback functions  remove these barriers, allowing for the provision of instant feedback directly in the creative field without the need for DMs and emails: On-asset feedback is changing the game.

Feedback fiasco with your current MarTech stack 

Right now, your creative workflow is most likely carried by a disjointed network of SaaS platforms. Creative tools, cloud storage, project management systems, and communication apps. It clunks along something like this: 

1. Planning: The creative team receives a brief document through Slack or Gmail, or is briefed in-person via Zoom.

2. Creation: Depending on the project, the creative team uses something like Adobe, Figma, or Canva to draft assets.

3. Review: Feedback on the asset is given through Slack, Gmail, or Zoom, then implemented with the creative tool.

4. Approval: A final approval message is sent via Slack, Gmail, Zoom, or Docs.

Oh, and don’t forget about the multiple status updates in your project management platform at each stage or the supplementary creative platforms you likely need. 

Odds are you fit in with the 82% of brands who haven’t yet mastered their MarTech stack. 

Bouts of creative productivity are constantly thwarted by switching between communication and creation apps, matching assets to feedback, and — worst of all — waiting for a response to changes.

This can become a major setback during creative review. 

Forget about the issues surrounding the right way to give creative feedback for a second (more on that later). Unless you are working on ad copy in Google Docs, there is no easy way for your team to leave feedback in a timely, direct manner that fits well into your creative workflow. 

This creative process is starting to feel a lot less “timeless” and your creative team is starting to feel a lot more like this: 

Creative feedback is always going to be a tricky situation, no application is going to change that.

The “best” graphic, video, or copy for a branded asset is subjective and will always be up for debate. Personal preference, artistic egos, and good old-fashioned team dynamics are all part of the equation. It’s a constant work in progress.

Streamlining feedback is a great way to remove the administrative and logistical barriers that further complicate this highly dynamic process, enabling your team to give more effective feedback on a more efficient timeline. 

How on-asset feedback function helps save your team time

1. Reduce interruptions and keep that creative momentum rolling

Picture this: You’re a graphic designer working on a visual asset for the new ad campaign. 

You’ve gone through your existential crisis as an artist, closed all those browser tabs for “one-way tickets to Costa Rica,” and are now, finally, getting into your groove and putting together some bangin’ visuals. 

You’re in the home stretch of the latest version and then…

 “Thoughts About Direction of New Ad Visuals

“I’m not sure I like the facial expression on the girl in the background of this ad, second one from the left with blonde hair and red shirt”

“Hey, sorry, can you send me the link for the ad folder again?  Also not sure if I have access…”

Emails, slack messages, and inquiries about Dropbox. Your designer’s creative process just got kicked in the shins — repeatedly.  

Now, you may be asking yourself, “what’s the big deal? It only takes a few minutes tops to respond to those.” And that’s a valid point. 

But you know what doesn't take a few minutes? Getting back into your creative groove. Context switching is the mind killer.

Interruptions at work are a massive problem, regardless of role, with over 70% of people citing it as a problem for their workflow. How many interruptions do you experience in a day in the form of emails, DM’s, and app updates? Now imagine it takes 2 minutes to get back on track after each one. 

That adds up quickly, especially for iterative creative work. 

In psychological terms, high-level creativity involves lots of lateral and divergent thinking — making connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, ideas, and emotions. You know, all those “out-there” ideas your creatives are always cooking up. This type of thinking is essential to open-ended tasks like creating an ad or branding campaign. Constant interruptions easily derail these creative trains of thought. 

That’s bad news for your creators, which means it's also bad news for you, your marketing team, and your brand as a whole. 

What if, instead of moving between cloud storage, Slack, and email to track feedback, reviewers could leave it directly on the assets themselves? Instead of putting designers on the merry-go-round from creative review hell, your team simply drops comments directly on the asset in the storage space. 

Well, it just so happens that we know a certain creative ops platform with just this kind of dynamic feedback functionality. 

2. Eliminate the frustration of long response times

As annoying as constant messages are, waiting for said messages is equally frustrating. 

Distract creatives with a feedback goose chase, and the workflow gets derailed. Leave them hanging for too long, and they can quickly go off target. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop and all that… 

when you're still waiting for the marketing team to provide feedback on your creative asset meme
when you're still waiting for the marketing team to provide feedback on your creative asset meme

Feedback is extremely important to keep iterative creative headed in the right direction. It’s an inherently time-bound process. Without the guidance of the larger team, a creative designer may double down in the wrong direction. That’s more time and money out of your marketing budget. 

Sure, you might have that one graphic designer who’s been around and has the brand guide down pat, but it takes time to internalize that process. And that reliance on institutional knowledge definitely doesn’t scale as your marketing and creative departments expand. 

Even with an optimized tool like Air, the feedback only flows when someone gets around to actually sending it. You need to instill the importance of timely feedback into every member of your marketing and creative teams. 

The specifics of “exactly when” and “how long” the feedback cycle needs to be will vary depending on the overall creative workflow of your team. It’s a trial and error process that you sharpen as your team settles into their ideal cadence. The media, scope project, and specific team involved are all going to influence this cadence.

Be patient and consistent. It’s like conducting an ad test [insert blog post 2 link] but for your creative review process. 

3. Democratize creative feedback

You shouldn’t need a fine arts degree to give effective feedback on visual and video content. 

It’s a common issue between marketing and creative departments that seriously bogs down the creative review process: a lack of vocabulary. 

That’s the added bonus of on-asset feedback that most marketing teams don’t realize — it not only streamlines the creative process, it democratizes it as well. 

Air's own Content Marketer, Francis Zierer, is quite familiar with this issue and how our platform provides the ideal solution. Here’s his answer to why Air’s dynamic tools are such a game changer for marketing departments struggling to articulate the specifics of feedback on visual creative: 

“The feedback functionality means I don’t need a graphic designer’s vocabulary. It democratizes that ability and outsources the institutional knowledge ‘stuck’ inside the head of creatives. You just create a comment thread based on the specific area of the asset that you highlight.”

It looks a little something like this: 

Your marketing team is now ready and able to convey highly nuanced and specific feedback to designers with ease. No more Googling the rule of thirds or color theory. No more Rosetta’s Stone for Speaking to Creatives. No more frustrating back and forth between teams. 

On that last note…

Candid feedback is a sign of your team’s collaborative health

You’ve probably heard the saying before, “the team that sweats together sticks together.” 

First of all, yuck. 

Second of all, you better believe that that sweaty team is also able to collaborate effectively. 

The ability to craft, deliver, and implement feedback is central to effective collaboration. It’s a foundational component of teamwork that often goes overlooked, especially in fields like marketing where creativity meets strategic constraint. 

For instance, some of the most successful creative teams in the world pride themselves on the ability to deliver feedback with “candor, honesty, and respect.” (Is the name Pixar ringing any bells?) Granted, it’s not quite as romantic as the vision of the enigmatic artist, absorbed in a “timeless” creative moment. But it’s a much better model for sustainable, scalable creative success.

If your marketing team is delivering vague feedback or your creatives lash out at the mere hint of constructive criticism, you better believe there’s a lot more than just a creative asset in jeopardy. How you do anything is how you do everything

That’s why we’ve made it our mission here at Air to streamline creative operations — it’s about giving you the tools to improve that one element so crucial to a cohesive team: communication. 

More effective communication means more thoughtful and constructive feedback. Means more time for creatives to process and implement that feedback. More time for your team to develop a health cadence for creative review. 

Let the good times (and ad creative) roll with Air’s on-asset feedback

We’re all about saving time at Air. 

We hate how patchwork MarTech stacks and outdated cloud storage platforms are eating up those productive hours with frustrating busy-work. You don’t need that. 

You need to focus on the aspects of your creative workflow that are essential to creating high-quality content. You need to stop playing hopscotch between development, project management, and communication tools. You need instantaneous, intuitive feedback capabilities. 

Let us help you out with that.

Try Air for free today and let the good times (and ad creative) roll!

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