The Design Award Entry 101


Thoughts Piece

The 2016 design industry award season is well and truly underway. TYC has spent many (many) hours crafting award entries but it’s been worth it with 4 award nominations from 3 award bodies so far.

This isn’t our first rodeo though and we’ve learnt a load about entering awards. In the spirit of shared knowledge, TYC has created The Design Award Entry 101 for those looking to WOW the judges and get on that prestigious shortlist! So here goes and good luck:

ONE/ Set expectations at the start

When kicking off new projects at TYC we think ahead to ‘What’s the instagram moment?’, ‘What would customers steal?’ or ‘Which awards could this win?’ along with stretch goals like ‘How could this project be seen to be #ChangingSectors ?’.

Take the time to think about such things with the client before you begin designing rather than post rationalising.

TWO/ Capture the magic as it happens

Take time during the project to capture a mix of everyday work as well as the magic moments. Regularly take photos, short videos & stop motion of the team hard at work (and play).

Invest in a good project show reel or expert photography of the final product, such investments realise themselves when you can use them for your portfolio, marketing, PR and awards.

THREE/ Have a PR plan

Plan to build anticipation and excitement of the project in the media. Aim to get releases in both your client’s industry press as well as the design press. If the project receives good coverage and sparks conversations then you’re more likely to be on to something award worthy.

FOUR/ Research the awards

Don’t just go gung-ho and enter every award under the sun. Be picky about what you enter into which awards.

Research the judging criteria as well as the actual judges. Consider what they will they be looking for in an entry; weigh up if the project ticks all the boxes. Some awards are about aesthetics, others are about brand impact or commercial viability.

FIVE/ Many heads are way better

Ask the extended project team to contribute towards the entry, whether that is the landlord, client, partner or supplier. Business success matters so plan to get some killer success statistics into the entry.

SIX/ Write, rewrite & obey

Writing the award entry is no small task. TYC brainstorm out the key defining points of the project so we are clear about what to focus on. We then expand these points out in to digestible paragraphs.

Remember to demonstrate how the project answers the specified judging criteria in a short and concise manner, deliver the message with WOW factor. The judges could be locked in a room for hours, if not days, judging so your entry needs to stand out. Keep the judging criteria to hand so you can reference it regularly.

Don’t be fooled, one size will not fit all if you are entering the same project into a number of categories or awards. In order to make each entry as relevant as possible and to give it the best chance of being nominated, create a new version specifically designed to answer the requirements for each category / award.

On any normal day we don’t like to follow the crowd but in this instance (trust us, we have been on the other side of the fence and sat on many judging panels) we have found that the entry will benefit if it does exactly what the rules say, specifically things such as word counts.

A great way to understand the judging process is to get yourself on a panel, this way you will get first hand insight into what makes judges tick.

SEVEN/ Finishing touches

Almost over the finishing line but make sure that any physical or supporting material submitted is as well considered as every other aspect of the entry.

Think about how presentation boards can be made to stand out from all the other entries. Spend time designing the boards to ensure they tell the same story as the written submission; then get them professionally printed.

When sending physical submissions ensure they are well packaged and sent by courier or hand deliver them. After all this effort you want to make sure that the supporting material arrives in a good state for judging.

This goes without saying but make sure that everything arrives before the deadline.

Hope this works for you, it sure has worked for us with 4 nominations for a recent project #TheStoryShop by World Vision UK in the 2016 award season by The Drum Design Awards, BCSC Opal Awards and SCEPTRE Awards.

Good luck.