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Learn from your bad clients


I need to write my experiences and classes from a current emblem design venture I took on, which sadly didn’t go in addition to I might have hoped.

I nonetheless have a great relationship with this shopper, and though a ultimate design was chosen and full cost was made, I’m conscious that sadly they may proceed to revise and modify the brand to their ‘personal’ style.

This weblog submit hasn’t been written as a private assault on my shopper (who I can’t identify), however as a approach to present the continued efforts I make to enhance my processes and repair.

I additionally hope by telling of my experiences it can additionally assist different designers and creatives who might at some point fall into an analogous state of affairs.

Beginning the challenge

Initially of each id design challenge, as per my undertaking course of, I create an inventory of aims based mostly on collated info, which types a quick for the venture.

This listing of aims is agreed with the shopper earlier than any designs are created, as my design selections and decisions can be made based mostly on this record. Upon presentation of the designs I will even clarify how every design meets these objectives, and advocate which design I consider is best suited.

With this specific challenge the shopper was fairly particular with the kind of designs they needed me to probe for them, and these necessities have been included inside the temporary.

The shopper gave a brand new requirement

Upon presenting the designs, the shopper favored what I created for them, nevertheless defined that they anticipated an icon to be included as a part of the word-mark, and despatched over a selected instance of what they needed this to be. This wasn’t one thing that was ever mentioned beforehand, and didn’t even relate with the kind of designs they needed me to initially probe for them, as per the goals created.

Wanting again now, I do know I ought to have raised this with them, and re-evaluated the undertaking temporary, nevertheless the shopper was so particular in what they needed that I put a revised design collectively for them, which was a mixture of an idea I had created, with the addition of a brand new icon.

As soon as I used to be pleased I had a design I felt was distinctive, memorable, easy and applicable, I introduced the revised design to them.

Regardless of the reason of my design selections, the shopper requested additional modifications to be made.

As a part of my course of I permit limitless modifications to a selected design. It’s because I consider that if a shopper pays for a design, they need to love what they ultimately obtain.

I additionally do that as I work in the direction of an inventory of goals, and consider that the shopper can add their very own helpful enter to create a design that may appeal to their audience, and higher mirror their enterprise. I consider this additionally leads to a greater designed emblem.

The worth of “limitless modifications”

Sadly, on this case my honesty and angle was abused.

With every revision made, the shopper requested additional modifications. The shopper even at one level despatched over their very own revisions, and although I made the modifications to their actual specs, they didn’t just like the change and needed to see additional variations.

Finally, after hours of labor, I used to be loosing money and time on this venture, therefor I wanted to tell the shopper that this spherical of revisions would have to be the final, and any additional modifications would require a small hourly charge.

The shopper didn’t argue this in any means, and understood the explanations, however was not ready to take a position any additional into the design.

The shopper agreed that when this revision was made, they might make the ultimate cost, and would revise the design themselves to their very own tastes. I nonetheless consider this was a nasty choice, however I have to respect the shoppers request.

Regardless of the extra work and time I wanted to place into the undertaking, I made a decision I might current the shopper with 2 choices. I proven a revised model based mostly on their necessities, together with the model I’ll current inside my emblem design portfolio.

With this second model I wrote a supporting doc. This doc contained my design selections; each from technical viewpoint, in addition to a artistic perspective. Regardless of my efforts, the shopper chosen their model, and disregarded my opinions.

All of a sudden the shopper began to demand information to be despatched by a selected date, which was by no means agreed or mentioned at any level. I used to be additionally knowledgeable that emails weren’t being acquired.

It was very weird because the shopper truly replied to emails they claimed they didn’t obtain… Perhaps I’m being naive, however I consider that the shopper genuinely didn’t ‘see’ the emails, however I’m assured they did obtain them regardless. I perceive what it’s wish to be busy, so I do know emails might be missed, however to be trustworthy… it was irritating, and was losing additional time.

Joyful finish? Not likely…

The shopper ultimately made remaining cost, and was extraordinarily proud of the ultimate design. I do nevertheless wait to see how my design is used, and what design selections the shopper will make. I hope they’ll make good design selections, and don’t damage the work I did for them, nevertheless since their web site is sort of horrific, I do have nice considerations…

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are finally two kinds of shoppers. People who need a designer, and have respect for the information, talent and schooling, after which there are those that simply need somebody to create their imaginative and prescient, and couldn’t care much less concerning the designers opinions.

Fortunately virtually all of my shoppers respect my opinions, and I additionally respect theirs too. We now have a great working relationship, and this collaboration finally leads to nice design work.

People who nevertheless disrespect a designers opinion are ‘inconceivable’ to work for, make you doubt your opinion, design expertise, and make you are feeling bodily and mentally drained. These are the kind of individuals I need to keep away from sooner or later.

I’m making modifications to my processes from this present day on, each in an try and keep away from shoppers like this, however to additionally keep away from getting used and abused by shoppers on this method.

What emblem design processes have I modified?

I’ve made quite a lot of modifications to my design processes to keep away from the flawed sort of shopper. This can be a abstract of what I’ve carried out:

1. Getting extra particulars earlier than beginning the work

Detailed info is required earlier than cost is made utilizing a brand new enquiry type. I hope by doing this it should flush out ‘time wasters’, and people who aren’t ready to place the time within the to the undertaking. Effort in = Effort out. If somebody is a real shopper, and is critical about their enterprise, they’ll spend the time to finish the knowledge.

2. Adjusting my charges to the shopper

My pricing mannequin has modified. Beforehand I had a single worth to go well with all. I’ve now revised this in order that the worth will range based mostly on necessities and expectations. This does additionally imply my costs have been elevated, however I’ve finished this as an try and flush out the dangerous shoppers, and appeal to enterprise house owners who’re critical about their model id, and perceive the worth of excellent design work.

three. Limiting the design time to shield from abuse

Limitless modifications have been quantified inside the preliminary citation. Though ‘limitless’ modifications could be made, I’ve capped the design time inside the undertaking worth. This time permits for a number of revision rounds if wanted. If the shopper does need additional amendments, there’s a small hourly payment.

This finally protects me from abuse, and protects me ought to a authorized state of affairs come up. An inexpensive shopper ought to by no means have to pay extra, and I’ll by no means use this as an excuse to get extra money out of a shopper.

four. A managed record of objections, well-documented

When goals are created, I’ll make it very clear that this listing will turn out to be the temporary I’ll work from. I will even request this to be signed and dated by the shopper. If something is raised after this level that modifications the path of the undertaking, there shall be a charge to re-evaluate the record and for any additional designs wanted.

This listing is in any case my approach of making certain exact objectives are met, and is to additionally assist the shopper make the fitting selection for his or her enterprise.


I truthfully don’t assume there are such a factor as dangerous shoppers, however as an alternative ‘fallacious’ shoppers.

I don’t assume this shopper was dangerous, however I do consider they chose the flawed service for his or her necessities and expectations. I consider this shopper needed an art-worker, and never a designer. Somebody who might create their imaginative and prescient for them.

I’ve discovered quite a bit from the expertise, and hope by telling this story it is going to additionally assist different designers to guard themselves from comparable issues.

Have you ever had an identical expertise? Do you’ve gotten any helpful recommendation to share? Add your story to the feedback part under.


Publish by Ian Paget

Ian Paget is a graphic designer from Studying, UK. In his day job he works as artistic director for an eCommercy company. With a love of branding and emblem design, in his free time he runs Emblem Geek, designing logos & identities for SMEs around the globe.

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