3 Things I Learned Judging Logos from Alaska

Get the inside scoop straight from an experienced awards judge.

It’s award entry season! Numerous local and national shows have sent their “Call for Entries” out. That means project managers, creative directors, account supervisors, marketing interns and anyone with a little free time at agencies and in-house departments will scrambling to gather the “Background, Strategy, and Results” from their best 2017 campaigns.
Everything from a theme and logo for the local fundraising gala to a multi-million dollar marketing automation implementation gets considered. So what goes through the judges’ minds? I’ll give you a peek behind the curtain.

Everything from a theme and logo for the local fundraising gala to a multi-million dollar marketing automation implementation gets considered. So what goes through the judges’ minds? I’ll give you a peek behind the curtain.

Keep in mind, your entry is judged in one of two scenarios:

  • The first is a group behind closed doors. Imagine a really big conference room, cafeteria or other shared space. The entries are spread out all over the place. On the walls, the tables, even on the floor. Judges walk around with score sheets, talk to each other, and take the work in. Labeling is important. A little context goes a long way. And sometimes judges even argue over your work. Cool, right?
  • The second and increasingly more common is independent judges working online. Imagine a marketer in a remote city, after work, after dinner, after the kids go to bed. He or she is clicking and reading through the entries, toggling between PDFs and spreadsheets, trying to get a handle on your program, and scoring online. It’s very independent and fair because the judges don’t influence each other. But you need to your write-up needs to be quick, clear and compelling.

AMA Rochester Board of Directors has helped several other chapters across the country judge their awards shows. Per the second scenario, we have reviewed and scored entries online. After reviewing hundreds of entries this way, here are three things I wish every submitter knew:

  1. Background and strategy matter, big time. A clear “situation” paints the picture for the judge. Here’s what we were up against…and here’s what we wanted to do. Reach an audience. Change a perception. Change a behavior. Win back customers. Establish a whole new brand. Whatever the situation, keep it crisp and make sure it sets up the work to follow.
  2. “Clients really liked it” is not a result. I’m not saying verbatims aren’t valuable. In fact, awareness and sentiment surveys can constitute results beautifully. But if all you have for results is a vague accolade or “too early for metrics” then you probably should reconsider the entry.
  3. Tie your success back to strategy. The tightest, most successful entries in a results-based show are those that connect metrics to the original objectives and strategy. Even when judging logos from Alaska, if the goal was to refresh the brand and change perceptions among a target audience, survey results, increased traffic, likes and sales proved it. So yes, logos can drive results!

In the weeks ahead, as you gather your entries for the Pinnacle Awards, or other shows, ask your do a quick scan. “Imagine you’re a judge. Does this story make sense?” We’ll be showcasing past Pinnacle winners via social media. If you’d like to know more about what set them apart, let’s talk.

I want to say good luck with your entries, but luck should have nothing to do with it.

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