Logo Tutorial #9: Client Headaches

As this logo design series winds down, we now make the jump from discussing the design process to discussing communication and collaboration with your client. I say collaboration because they will play a large part in the process. This is more than a one-time ad or flyer—this is their identity. You will notice them being more hands-on than normal. And understanding how to work with your client will be the key factor in making your experience positive (for both parties) and not a lingering headache. So let’s get right to it.

Get on the same page as your client

At times designers will gloss over input from the client because they feel it hampers their creativity. Don’t fall into that line of thinking. First, someone is (hopefully) paying you to create something for them—they’ve earned the right to have their desires considered. Second, having input from the client restricts your creativity in no way. As you get more experience, you’ll develop your own system for learning what the client is looking for. When getting started, one of the most helpful things to do is ask them for a few logos they like. This will tell you the general style they prefer. You may have another style you like better. Now is the time to discuss those options—before you needlessly spin your wheels on a format that is not even on their radar.

Understand how much time logo design takes

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, logo projects are very important to the client—as they should be. Know there will be multiple rounds of revisions. Now, unless you’re dealing with larger corporations, you will find that charging for all the time you’re actually going to put into the project will not go over well. It adds up in a hurry. And while you don’t know how many revisions there will be, you still need to supply an estimate. It’s a difficult process and one I don’t enjoy. Some people give a price which covers a specific number of revisions. I’m not a fan of that method. What happens if you’ve used up the agreed upon number of revisions and the client isn’t happy with it? You’re in a tough situation. There’s no magic solution. If you’re just getting started, logo jobs are great experience and look good in a portfolio. Don’t feel bad about giving people a deal. As your experience grows, so should your price. But regardless, go into the project with a realistic understanding of how much time you will be investing. Price according to how hungry you are for the job.

Don’t show the client a design you don’t like

This is a general rule of thumb that applies to all design work. But just like a logo project is special to a client, it’s also special to you. Logo designs can be great showcase pieces. But there’s this mysterious force of nature that takes over when you show your client a concept you’re really not happy with—that’s the one they will pick! Now you’ve ended up designing a logo you regret. No showcase piece for you. Don’t throw in additional designs just to impress the client with how many options you’re giving them. If you don’t like it, don’t show it.

(And on a practical level, remember what we discussed in part five of this series: always show your designs in black and white first!)

These are general rules I’ve followed that have allowed me to experience very few client disagreements over my years as a designer. As with life itself, if you are willing to deal with a problem the moment you notice an issue, and can anticipate and diffuse problems before they mature, you will save yourself time, frustration, and heartache—maybe even money!

Articles in this series on logo design

  1. No Photos, Please
  2. Vector Victory
  3. Don’t Be Literal
  4. Be Fontastic!
  5. Black & White
  6. Single Concept
  7. Never Clever
  8. One-Hit Blunder
  9. Client Headaches
  10. Forget Design

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