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Competing for work before pay!

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by iDesign, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. iDesign

    iDesign Member

    I've been approached and asked to design a logo. Only thing is - There are 2 other agencies that have also been asked. The "client" wants us to submit our work and then she'll choose.
    So that's research and design for nothing. If she likes it, only then will one of us get paid.
    To be honest I'd never really though about what I'd do in a situation like this. I've done work for her before. This whole "all three of you submit something" reminds me of those awful stock logo contest sites. They were great when I needed to build up a portfolio to help me get my first job, but I'm not sure what to do about this.
    Has anyone ever had this before? My reaction was one of "no way - you know what my work is like, don't patronise me by having me compete"
    But is this slightly cutting my nose off to spite my face?
    What would you do if it were you? It won't affect my decision (when I have one), I'm however intrigued. Would you or have you asked for some kind of payment to cover the research etc?
    Thanks lovely people :)
  2. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    I'd tell them to shove it - politely of course and explain why along with the simple comment, you wouldn't offer your services for free so why should I. There is nothing to say she won't say no to both agencies and get all that work (ideas) for free.
    Never be afraid to turn down a job, if the other agency is worth it's salt then it will also say no to doing anything for free.
    iDesign likes this.
  3. I would write a polite email back to them explaining that what they're asking is a very unfair and insulting business practice. If they're willing to treat their designers like this, it could mean one of any number of things: they aren't able to communicate what they want effectively, may have been burned in the past and are now massively sceptical of every designer they work with, aren't likely to have a realistic budget or have their own ideas on what makes a good logo, most of which are probably wrong. I could go on...
    Chances are that you've got one very small chance to write to them and to impress them enough to make them want to hire you, but finding those magic words, if they even exist, is going to be difficult at best. The problem is that someone who is willing to act like this clearly doesn't value the right things, and getting someone to change their values is a very difficult task...
    You could start with what I mentioned at the start of this post and then go on to say either that you would like a non-refundable deposit, explaining that when you do work for someone, you need to be paid, working for free is not an option that they would probably consider, so why should you? Or you could try and get them to understand why it's better to choose and work with one professional designer, instead of getting lots of different people to submit designs.
    1. People who are happy to work under these conditions usually don't have the experience or design skills required to get bigger, better projects. Do they really want to work with someone who might not know what they're doing? By utilising this strategy she is limiting herself to a particular skill level.
    2. If she is working in this way, she is unlikely to get a high quality logo that reflects the true needs of the brand, it's not a case of picking and choosing what looks the best from a limited brief. The logo needs to be developed from the ground up and tailored to meet the specific needs of the business entity, which I'm willing to bet isn't being done in this situation.
    Some times clients are beyond educating, and a good flag to look out for is those who look to do everything on the cheap. If this person is paying you less than £200 for the logo then I wouldn't bother trying to explain why they need to do things differently. Chances are they simply won't agree or understand.
    iDesign and like this.
  4. floriographic

    floriographic Member

    It makes my blood boil that people think its ok to ask people to work like this. What is it that makes people thing designers don't need to pay their bills or put food in their bellies? You wouldn't expect 3 painters to come and decorate 3 rooms in your house and only pay the one you like best, why do people think its different for designers?

    I was contacted by a local design consultancy last year to help them out with some logo designs they were pitching to a client against a couple of other agencies. They had decided the direction they wanted to go in based on a comprehensive brief document the client had put together along with a list of examples they liked. They had various meetings along the way to discuss their needs and potential concepts. I was being paid so i had no problems doing the work and a produced the logos as they directed. They took them to the pitch and the client completely shot them down saying they didn't fit the brief at all and were nothing like they wanted etc etc. So not only did they waste their own time but they were out of pocket for what they paid me. The client still has their old logo so obviously didn't like any of the pitches! I guess big companies might be able to afford to waste time on lost work but the principle is still wrong. As a freelancers there's no way i'd do it.
    romet6 and iDesign like this.
  5. iDesign

    iDesign Member

    Love this example! Absolutely true :)
    Thanks for your views Levi, Sean and Floriographic. You are absolutely right. I think I knew it was a no when I got to the last line "I just wanted to give you an opportunity to pitch". I'm grateful for the thought, but I really don't need any favours. Or anything for my portfolio as is often mentioned. I've found this whole "pitch" thing a little indignant and degrading. Especially given that this is a client who I've worked with regularly.
    I've found out the job has actually been given to just one agency, and I've been told 3 because for some strange reason I guess, some people think that by increasing the number of competitors will in fact also increase your determination and eagerness to win the job. This agency doesn't know I've been asked. I'm not sure if the client is aware that she'll be charged full-whack most likely, regardless of whether she likes their design or not.
    So I have, as suggested, politely declined and said I am happy to do the research and design for a non-refundable fee (50% of the final total). If they don't like that, then that is fine.
    I'm still a little annoyed as this is a charity, the agency in question have told the client she's getting "mates rates" in return for a favour years ago - but these rates are actually pretty standard agency rates. I always try to price fairly :)
  6. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Just in case the topic pops up again - pitching for a job is fine, doing concepts for free is not. Now to me the distinction is whether or not I actually do any design work for the 'client'.
    In my opinion a pitch is kind of an extended meet and greet, you talk about ideas or the direction you are likely to head in based on the brief they have given you, you may even do some rough sketching while there depending on the type of work. But as with this 'job', when you are 'competing' by generating concepts for the 'client' then its got to be a no (we all need to stick together on this) because creating concepts is arguably the most expensive part of a 'branding' project and giving away the most profitable part of a job is not only stupid it's just bad financially... the client could easily turn around after the concepts and say no or even better say that the concepts were 'free' and you only get paid for the final concept image which is considerably less than what the whole project is worth.
    And as to the charity wanting work done - discount maybe, never give it for free as all it takes is for one charity to talk to another about you doing their work for free and you could have lots of 'free clients' knocking at your door. Not saying doing something for free for something you're passionate about is wrong, I just wouldn't advise it.
    iDesign likes this.
  7. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Dear **** wit,
    Thank you for your kind invitation to be part of the competition to "potentially" work for yourself.
    Unfortunately at this time I am busy doing 'real work' for 'real clients' to earn some 'real money' to feed my 'real family'.
    To be frank, I find your offer to work for free ****ing offensive to myself and my industry and the fact that you are a charity doesn't make me one.
    Should you ever darken my ****ing in-box again I will find your place of work, wait for you to come out and ****ing cut you.
    I will. I have a knife.
    Many thanks.
    (insert name here)
    [color=#ff0000;]Admin Message: Use this letter at your own risk. DF does not condone this type of behaviour.[/color]
  8. iDesign

    iDesign Member

    I am so disappointed I didn't see this before writing my reply. I think this letter would've worked much better :D
  9. iDesign

    iDesign Member

    Thanks Levi :)
    I've always priced more than fairly for them. The "doing me a favour" thing annoys me though. Well I genuinely look forward to seeing the final design from the agency :)
  10. Hahaha Scotty, great letter ;) Thought I'd add a (comical) disclaimer though :D
    I really hate it when people tell you they're doing you a favour by getting free work. I didn't spend years of my life studying design so I could do your f***ing work for free thank you very much!
    floriographic and iDesign like this.
  11. romet6

    romet6 Member

    It may be okay to do some free work if you are auditioning for a very prestigious and high paying position in some company, but I see no reason to audition for a random little one-time project. It's not like you are being offered a position at Google.
    This is like calling a taxi and then telling the driver that once you arrive at your destination, you will decide if you wish to pay for the services. You should be lucky if the driver won't run you over :D
    iDesign and GilmoreVisuals like this.
  12. GilmoreVisuals

    GilmoreVisuals Active Member

    Nice video! Shared it on facebook for my 'friends'.
    romet6 likes this.
  13. deadlymuffin

    deadlymuffin New Member

    Wow it's so depressing to get a client such as this. I have been designing for some time now, and try to negotiate with people like this, and have successfully only to find that they just won't pay in the end regardless.
    iDesign likes this.
  14. iDesign

    iDesign Member

    Love the video! :)
    romet6 likes this.

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