What Makes Something Award-Worthy?

What Makes Something Award-Worthy?

The world is full of things that are objectively good (ice cream) and objectively bad (ice cream headaches). Then about 99.9% of everything else falls into the realm of subjective. Could be good, could be bad, could alternate between the two depending on context (shoulder rubs). When it comes to running advertising competitions or website awards, you need to get comfortable in the gray area. So how do we take something that is primarily subjective and decide if it is better or worse than others in its category? And how can you tilt the odds of getting that coveted award in your favor?

Getting the Basics

The first thing any judge of advertising competitions will notice is when a piece does not even display the core competencies required to work in that field. Designers will hate you for life if your kerning is off. A blatant typo will set you back a few points. And you’re not winning any website awards with that excessive loading page. Sometimes you want to break the rules to prove a point. But if you can actually pull that off, most people should be able to tell it was intentional.


You could paint a beautiful, accurate, photorealistic painting of the New York skyline or a bowl of oranges on a table, but everyone’s seen that before. Talented people can also be extremely boring, so along with the skills, you need a taste and a sense for what’s new and different. But even then it still has to be good. Different alone doesn’t mean your work resonates.


Subtlety is great and all, but it’s easier to miss than something that’s more in-your-face. When submitting to advertising competitions or a website awards platform, you are getting your work in front of judges who should (at least in our case) have plenty of knowledge in your area of expertise. Nevertheless, a bunch of other people are going to be vying for that same spot as you, so you need to stand out.

Doing More with Less

We at Rock Candy Media always say that the best designs are minimalist while feeling maximalist. Big, brazen text on a simple backdrop. Simple illustrations with deep connotations. This might seem to go against our previous advice. Actually, we would argue this is bombasity in its finest form.


This is more about you than your work. Even if your work checks all the boxes above, it might not win for one reason or another. Brilliance sometimes takes a while to get noticed. That means you just have to keep on turning out the work, stepping up your game, and submitting the deliverables you are proud of the most. Creatives don’t plan on slowing down their game anytime soon, so the rigor that advertising competitions will be based off will only grow as well.


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