Judge Whispering or The Art of Award submission

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Builders have HIA Awards, Designers have AGDA awards, and Advertisers have the D&AD Awards. Whatever your domain, you have a chance to make your mark and get decorated with some form of awards. It’s a great way to build your brand and demonstrate to your client and future prospects that you are the best. Although, with entry fees, agency fees, and all the time you spend collating your entry, award submissions can get rather costly. What can you do to maximise your chances of success?

Marshall McLuhan said:

''The medium is the message.''

This basically means that the way we acquire information affects us more than the information itself. This could not be more relevant than in an awards submission context.

Consider that the way in which you have collated and presented your information will greatly affect how the judges initially view your work – first impressions are often difficult to shake. Judges may also be unwilling to designate more of their time to a scrappy submission that shows the entrant put little thought into how their entry would be received.

Make it easy for the judges – From writing your body copy to how you decide to present your appendices try to make their life as easy as possible. Judging days are long, exhausting and your judge will likely be reviewing several other submissions in the same day.

Understand everything – Criteria compliance, rules, specifications. Don’t assume anything and contact the awards organisers if in doubt. Be aware that your submission will be one of hundreds of applications. The fact that you missed a single element could potentially make it or break it for you.

Do your research – Collect data about your business or project. These can be in the form of reviews, testimonials, successes and results throughout the year. This information will be helpful to reinforce your message and back up your statements in the submission.

Adapt your tone of voice – Your role is to convince the judges that you are the best of the best. Make sure you use a (quietly) confident tone of voice when writing your submission.

Be clear and succinct – Don’t over explain. Keep it to the point.

Take the judges on a journey – Make your submission unique by writing your submission as if you’re telling the judges a story. But once again, ensure that your story does not over explain your entry. It’s about finding the right balance.

Avoid recycling – If a certain type of content works for you one year…it’s easy to think that it will also work next year. However, it’s always best to rewrite your ideas. You can only make your submission better each year.

Pay attention to the layout – Think about how many other applications judges will be going through. Wouldn’t you agree that it is more inviting to go through an application if it is visually pleasing? Make it legible by breaking up the information in sections. Use engaging imagery throughout and illustrate your ideas with graphics where relevant.

Reach out to local talents – Share the work by collaborating with a photographer, an infographic artist or graphic designer to ensure your entry submission is the best it can be.

It’s all about catering the overall entry to the judge and making it as easy for them as possible. They will likely be reviewing many other submissions in the same sitting, and they are more likely to look upon your entry favourably if it is neat, clearly organised and easy to interpret.

About Juli

I’ve been on both sides of the submission box. Prior to starting The Brand Foundry I was brand manager for a large project builder, where I oversaw the design, writing and printing of the Professional Builder award submission each year – a major award in the Australian building industry – which the company won every year I was in this role (and more!).

Also, during my career in Canada, I spent some time working in a publishing house that organised awards for the advertising industry. It was my duty to coordinate the award entries and jurors. Thanks to these paths of my career, I have sorted and organised mountains of physical submissions (before online submission became commonplace) and sat on multiple jury deliberation days.

At the Brand Foundry we can help you design award submissions that make a big impact. Ask us how we can help you with your next award submission or tender. You can book a consultation here.

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