Sometimes, when working with a client, we see eye to eye on things. Other times, we don’t and that’s okay! Part of taking on client work is balancing what your client wants and what you feel should be done. Let me share two examples this when designing a logo:
Example #1: Simple job turned bigger job
In the first example, the client sent me a picture of a sketch and wanted me to digitize it. I told him it would be cheaper to digitize a sketch than to create a logo from scratch, as long as I stuck with the drawing he sent me. So, I created this, based on the sketch:
As is quite common when digitizing a sketch like this, the client said he didn’t like it as much as he thought he would, and asked to make some changes. In response, I explained:
“I’m happy to make some of these changes to you. But this is getting out of the realm of “just digitizing a drawing of a logo that I already have”. Its not a huge deal at this point, so I’m happy to keep working on it for you, so don’t worry.”
That is why I hesitate to take on projects like this when the client just wants an exact digital copy of a sketch. Because usually there are several changes that need to be made and the logo ends up not being an exact copy at all. Some of the changes require me to completely remake the logo and double the amount of work.
This was the end result of the logo:
He was very happy with the end result, and so was I.
Example #2: Create – Scrap – Revamp
The second example was similar, but a bit reversed. The client said he wanted something simple and clean, and showed some examples of what he liked. I spent some time sketching up many different concepts, and sent him these three:
He took a look at the sketches and said “Use whichever one you think would gel best with the site. ” So I created this:
Up to this point, I had spent quite a bit of time on this. Thinking, looking at examples, looking at his materials to get the “feel” of his company, drawing sketches (more than those three), and creating the digital version.
After all of that, he came back after seeing it on the website and said he wanted something different, and specified the font he would like to use. I basically had to scrap the work I’d done up to that point. I designed the new logo wishing he had just told me the font to use from the beginning. But sometimes clients don’t know what they want until they see it. And sometimes clients don’t know what they don’t want until they see it.
He asked for multiple changes and tweaks and we ended up with this:
There are a few takeaways from all this. First, understand that these types of scenarios are common with client work. Its hard for clients to explain to you exactly what they want. Sometimes they don’t know what they want and ask you to come up with something – only to tell you they don’t like what you’ve come up with. Its can be a challenge trying to combine the visions of two people. Be prepared to be patient.
Second, there are times you need charge extra for additional revisions. There comes a point when the requests of your client go beyond what you originally agreed to. That is why it is important to have an agreement in place that specifies the project scope (this is the agreement I use for freelance work). Some designers allow for two or three revisions and they specify that in their agreement. When you’ve fulfilled your end of the agreement and the client asks for something small, I usually go ahead and do it for them. If the client asks for something big that is outside what we originally agreed upon, say, revamping the entire logo, I then charge them based on my hourly rate and bill them separately for it.
Third, when your work gets scrapped, it doesn’t mean it was bad work. Now, sometimes it does :), but usually, it is just a matter of preferences. That is just part of the process. I’ve come to take on a bit of the outlook that Howard Roark does in The Fountainhead: I get satisfaction in the fact that the design was created . . . that I brought it to life – and in the end, if the client doesn’t like it and I end up “tossing it”, its ok. Occasionally, a client may ask you to do something you don’t want to do – create a design that you wouldn’t be proud of, build a website that you would hate building – and its ok to say “no”. I do, all the time.
What have you learned from working with your own clients? Please let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for sharing this, it was very encouraging. I’m working on a logotype for a good friend. We have a good relationship, yet they still very much have the same client-attitude/perspective (i.e. not knowing exactly what they want until they see it and like/don’t like it). So communication and checking-in have been crucial moments for me to pivot in my work. I get a bit discouraged before those moments sometimes (then i look for inspiration from others, haha!), and the check-ins ultimately have helped alleviate those discouraging feelings.