Much of what a creative director does is define for the team what is good work, and then hold everyone to that standard.

The challenge isn’t that people don’t want to create good work. Writers and art directors and designers and producers and developers want to be proud of what they create, and they want to be recognized as good. The problem is that people have competing definitions of good.

So, beyond the core competencies of excellent writing and design, it’s worthwhile to spell out what we mean by good.

1. Good work is engaging

In any branding or advertising or design work, the majority of people we’re trying to reach are trying to ignore our message. Everyone is busy doing something else. So we need to attract their attention. Of course, there are an infinite number of ways to lure someone to sit up and open her eyes and take in a new message. Engaging work is built upon an understanding of the prospect and her concerns, and then connecting that to something meaningful about the brand.

2. Good work is built on the core truth of the brand

Every worthwhile brand exists for a reason. Before it was a product or service, it was an insight, a solution to a problem. The most powerful message is rooted in this core truth. Every lasting brand connects with its audience on this level. The products or services are the tangible expressions of the deeper value. Truth is magic.

3. Good work makes me want it before I know why I want it

The best work surprises. It reveals a truth that was hidden before. Engagement comes from revelation. The visitor recognizes something she knew but had not fully realized, and that moment of recognition has power. This is where we have the opportunity to change the way people think, and turn them toward something new.

Of course, this is hard to do. That’s why agencies like Berman exist. If it were easy to attract people’s attention, we wouldn’t be necessary. But it’s hard, and we are. And when we connect our clients with their prospects and build a market for them, the positive spiral up is the best business feeling possible. It’s why we love this.

Next up: A few of my favorite things, and why they don’t matter: Subjectivity vs objectivity in advertising