Make it Pop? Make it Stop


You’re sitting in a client presentation with the latest creative. After you tee up the design, the client stares at the screen in contemplative silence. Everyone is eagerly awaiting their reaction when they utter those three magic words: “Make it pop.”

Graphic designers hear it all too often. “Make it pop” is the Nickelback of design feedback: mostly meaningless and overused (sorry Nickelback, I know you’re the world’s punching bag).

I say this not to be a condescending jerk, but rather to highlight the importance of good design feedback. The reason “make it pop” doesn’t work is its ambiguity. I generally know what people mean when they say it, but there’s a multitude of ways to make it happen. And without specificity, the designer may end up unnecessarily changing something that the client actually liked.

Any of these tweaks can make a design “pop”:

  • Increased contrast
  • Brighter/more saturated colors
  • Bigger/bolder typography
  • Different spatial relationships
  • A photo of a popcorn kernel in the microwave
    A speech bubble with the word “pop” in it

Do you see where this can start to become convoluted? Even the last two bullets, while ridiculous, would still technically fulfill the request to “make it pop.”

So how do we solve this problem? Agencies and designers need to be better about asking the right questions of our clients that yield meaningful feedback. It’s all about open and honest communication. So if a client tells us to “make it pop,” here’s some suggestions on how to get more clarification.

  • “Can you be more specific about what needs tweaking?”
  • “What don’t you like about this design? The colors? The illustration style?”
  • “Can you provide an example of something that ‘pops’ for you?”

Finding ways to get more specific design feedback can cut down on unnecessary edits, lead to design that’s more in line with the client’s vision, and better relationships between agency and client.