Giving and receiving feedback

Hoping for a discussion and perspective on this topic. I’m trying to keep details/specifics neutral in the hope it won’t effect opinion.

Today I got a first look at the creative being used to promote an established brands premium product. The creative in question has been produced by someone I’d consider to be a creative (graphic) pioneer. They have inspired many designers, me included, to experiment and ask questions.

The campaign I saw before me looked akin to something I and many others might have submitted as supporting evidence during our exploratory stage(s) at college/university. I was astounded. I had so many questions, yet I asked none.

Until I was told, I had no idea who the brand were or even what product was. Yes, the campaign would certainly have ‘disrupted’ but, is that any good, if you don’t actually know what you’re being sold?

I came away from the session being really annoyed with myself. I asked ‘are there those who are above feedback?’ Yes, I was seeing the finished campaign but I wondered, would I have said anything, given the opportunity, earlier in the creative process?

Are you happy to give creative feedback? Given the opportunity, would you give feedback to your Art Director or Creative Head? Are we sometimes too scared to say anything?


  • Hi Nicholas,

    I do believe based on the previous comments you can tell most of us agree that anyone should be able to take feedback independently from seniority.

    However based on my personal experience what I hope not representing the numbers in large, the half of (creative) leads are not prepared or opened hearing feedback. The bigger the company the harder to give a voice for a honest thoughts on seniors/ leaders / CCOs work and performance and the smaller the chance that it goes anywhere.

    I'm not saying it's right, I'm not saying you should accept it but always consider workplace politics and have an idea about the viewpoint of decision makers. Hope it helps.

    Feel free to check out my work on
  • Hi Nicholas,
    Of course no-one is above feedback! For an organisation to become functional and successful in all aspects, we need to grow a culture where everyone’s voice can and should be heard. In my experience, we become better leaders and we make better, more relevant and creative decisions if we are open to feedback and listen to the people we work with. Your reflections are really relevant, but this said, everything also has its time and place.
  • Great question Nicholas.

    I believe feedback is an integral part of the creative process, it can only make the work better if given constructively and received with an open mind. I don't beleive anyone's above receiving feedback, no matter what level you are in your career. It's almost the same as saying one is above learning - which only leads to stagnation and eventually creative death.

    But as with all things, the way feedback is offered matters. I learnt early that when giving feedback, listeners are more receptive when you first note and remark on all the positives of the work, before pointing out to them a new perspective, or something you might've done differently or added, in a clear specific way - no wishy washy expressions.

    I find it's really important to foster a culture where everyone can be brave enough to speak up and make a contribution in a respectful, clear and constructive manner- it can only lead to progress, yours and the organization's.

    My two cents :)

  • Hi Nicholas,
    This is a truly interesting topic.
    In my opinion nobody is above feedback and the simple reason for this is that we all as consumers have an opinion (even at an unconscious level), whatever we have the opportunity to share it or not.
    However in my experience feedback is only constructive when it has been asked for in any capacity, and people involved were both open and receptive. Also in order to be helpful, feedback needs to be addressed in a safe space where people feel they can express themselves without further consequences. Unfortunately few companies I have come accross with do nurture this sort of culture.
    At a more practical level and especially in corporate/larger teams, creatives often operate under the policy "do not rain in my parade today and I will not rain in yours tomorrow" which in my opinion brings little progress to the projects.
    There is also the local culture to consider. In my first meeting with the team as Design Manager in the UK, I gave a straight forward & factual feedback on several projects, only to understand later that it came accross as too harsh. After that I took the time to observe my team closely and understand what sort of communication they were more receptive to, things improved quickly after that.
    Hope this helps!

  • I believe creative feedback should always be given and that nobody – I repeat – nobody – is or should be above feedback. Not getting feedback means that leaders cannot learn from mistakes and cannot grow. Everyone needs to learn and grow... surely thinking you're always right is not the mark of a good leader?
    The answer to this is to have a culture where feedback is given, received and, crucially, invited on a regular basis. Leaders have the responsibility to model this behaviour and invite feedback on their opinions and work. If you've stopped learning, you stagnate.
    Asking questions, as you do, is the way to stay creative. Keep asking them, and my advice is, be brave and ask them of all the people around you, regardless of hierarchy.
  • It's an interesting and sometimes difficult scenario! I've heard quite a few leaders talk about how important it is that they're surrounded by people that continue to challenge them. If you want everything you're delivering to be the best you need people who will help you improve it and not be afraid to offer their opinion. That said, I think you have to do it with respect because when it comes to creativity, every perspective is only an opinion. Ultimately the creative leader might decide you're wrong, but I don't think there's a level you get to where feedback isn't welcome as long as it's given with respect, Alexandra x
  • @Angela Meron

    Interesting approach. Asking questions also enables the creative/designer to address the whole room, making the process more engaging for everyone.

    Really like that. Thank you.
  • This is such a great question and scenario. One we are probably not often in. I had a similar situation, albeit with a colleague. No one else challenged their decisions and as the other design faculty (within our university setting) I would have been the one to do so. The issues I saw at the time continue to plague our brand. As junior faculty, I didn't feel I had a voice. Interestingly, I designed the University rebrand and they did the department brand. I would handle it differently now (time gives us some wisdom in how and when to do that).

    A later project provided opportunity to speak my concerns about design and overall content. What I've learned is to offer criticism in the form of questions, such as: Can you help me understand what you were thinking here? Why did you choose this? What was your inspiration? And another might be, have you received feedback from stakeholders both in and outside the group?

    And I don't think there are those above criticism, but it does make me think of "The Emporer's New Clothes!"

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