Rebecca Peel, an experienced marketer in the brand design industry, worked at Elmwood in the United Kingdom for 15 years. She carved out a role as Head of Awards & Recognition, focusing on developing and driving their awards strategy. Elmwood has been a consistent award winner. She now runs a consultancy, Awarded Ltd., in West Yorkshire. We asked Rebecca about the awards world and her tips for potential entrants. Here is her response:

Q: Why is entering important, even if there is no win. What are some of the strategies companies should use, and why do they overlook using them?

Rebecca Peel
Awards Strategist

 A: Each business has its reasons for wanting to enter awards, and that’s where I start with any agency I work with. I’d get them to:

  • Establish why they want to enter awards – Is it to attract new business? To strengthen an existing client relationship? For fame or glory? Or something else?
  • Identify the best award schemes to enter – some will focus purely on rewarding outstanding creativity, and others on the business results generated for the client. Some will be more interested in why you did what you did, so it’s important to identify which ones will be the best fit for your own marketing strategy.
  • Pinpoint the projects that are suitable for these competitions – which ones are your very best examples. Nothing but the very best is acceptable.
  • Take a closer look at the categories – where does your work best fit? Are there any categories that are under-represented? Can you tell a compelling story for your chosen project in that category? If not, move on.
  • Ensure that the imagery tells the same story as the written narrative – does it highlight everything that is exceptional with the project?
  • Anticipate what the judges are looking for – seek out the judging criteria, and who the judges are.
  • Prove success in black and white – do you have independent data to back up your claims? It’s much better to provide impartial information than merely big yourself up.

There are so many design awards competitions, and it takes time to go through this process. That’s why many agencies don’t bother, or fall at the first hurdle. It’s too time-consuming. And it’s complicated. But I would stress to any business that entering the right award scheme is totally worth it. An award win can give you credibility in certain areas of expertise. It can attract the best people to your business, and award-winning companies can experience significantly higher sales growth. If you’re shortlisted, it’s a great chance to raise your profile and increase brand awareness, and also benchmark against your competitors.

Entering a chance to review projects

Just entering gives you a chance to review your business or project’s achievements objectively. The more strategic or commercial awards tend to have quite an involved entry process, and so it allows you to do a mini SWOT analysis and potentially identify opportunities on which to capitalize. And if you’re lucky, the awards will give you feedback on how your entry measured up to the competition, giving you areas to improve on for next time.

Entering awards can end up being a full-time and costly job. If you approach it strategically, and are picky about which projects to enter into which schemes, you can get a fantastic return on investment. In my opinion, to be successful in entering awards you need to be logical, considered, pragmatic but passionate about the subject matter.

Rebecca Peel can be reached at

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