When good money turns bad

when good money turns bad

When good money turns bad

Winning tips for business

Assuming that the Agency is professional, when a campaign is commissioned, how can good intentions and precious budget get dissipated?

Here are a couple of traps that clients can fall into when managing creative projects. And then there’s the eloquent approach to wrap up, The Lesson.


Work presented by Agency is distributed for comment and sign off. This sounds clever and complete but unless this disconnected “panel” has insight into the Agency briefing and context, you’re headed for a train smash. This often results in numerous reworks by Agency which costs money.

The campaign can also become a compromise of many disparate ideas, eroding chances of a clear message to the market.


Get whoever signs off the Agency proposals to all sign off the brief BEFORE Agency starts work. Context or missing perspective can be provided upfront and all parties then have a clear framework to base input on.

Family and friends

The client takes the creative proposal to the spouse, golf buddies and Happy Hour mates. You cannot ‘crowd-approve’ creative work. If your advisors do not have detailed sight of your brief or knowledge of your brand, expecting an intelligent view is far-fetched.

“I once had a client who asked his wife for a spontaneous reaction on important creative work.  Predictably, the view was way off-side. Becoming exasperated, I asked what qualified his wife to comment as such. He looked at me perplexed and responded that she had studied History at Cambridge 20 years ago,” recalls Sherpa CEO Gary Hendrickse.

The way that the trusted advisor is canvassed can also cause the response to be skewed.


Don’t involve people outside of the business unless they are very clear on all aspects of the brief and your brand. Back yourself, be objective, take responsibility.


Such a tempting trap.

Business can be all operational grind with stress a constant companion. But there is relief on the horizon – new website time, a Facebook campaign is beckoning and there’s a logo refresh to change the conversation.

It’s a natural aberration for the Boss who quickly dons a creative beret – the Boss becomes the brand (it should be vice versa).


Sherpa director Elsa Barnard describes a situation close to home.

“A few years back we felt that our logo no longer positioned us correctly. Our strapline and client promise was Stand Out. Be Found. Instead of thinking about design options, we focused on refining a brief for our lead designer. He soon presented a new logo to us which was bright, bold and confident. We were emotionally invested in the old logo, but we approved the new logo immediately as it met the brief perfectly. If the brief was right, the logo was right.”

The Lesson

Creative is a process. Gary expands on this:

“I headed Marketing for a bank where the CEO, a Chartered Accountant, had final sign off on creative campaigns. He would scan the Agency brief, look at the campaign presented and mentally tick off the business case and also whether the work was consistent with the bank’s brand DNA. He’d also be checking for reputational risk. I would time the process. His sign off process averaged 97 seconds. Totally in tune, totally objective,” says Gary.

The benefit:

The CEO’s level of understanding, objectivity and trust in his Marketing Executive, the Agency and the complete framework and process contributed hugely to campaigns either winning or featuring prominently in international creative awards. The bank was also recognised as leader brand in its category.

The biggest learning is perhaps that “creative” is a process (not a nebulous game) where rules apply.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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