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First Client being difficult

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by Delta-Design, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. Delta-Design

    Delta-Design New Member

    Hi everyone, first time poster here.

    I'll keep it as brief as I can. I graduated little over two years ago with a degree in graphic design and illustration. I am struggling to find work and am still stuck in my part time retail job. Recently, via Twitter, I was able to get my first real client. She wants a logo for her photography website. The name is 'Love Photography' and she sent me a basic mockup of what she wants it to look like. It was simply both words typed in a handwritten font and a heart inside the letter O. I asked her what she photographs, what tone she wants her brand to exude and for examples that she likes. After three different drafts of at least 12 different designs each time, she was quite hard to get any feedback out of. Recently, due to personal reasons, I was unable to work on it and sent her an email to keep her updated. After a few days, I sent her a more refined idea with a few variations. I had changed the letter O to be both a heart and a camera lens. In my email, I detailed the concept, showed several fonts that I had downloaded specifically for the project and asked for some feedback. The very next day, she replied with a very short email with the original mockup attached, saying 'please recreate this in black on white and white on black.'

    Now, I'm not that amazing at logo design and like I say have never had a client before, so I can't afford to lose her. I need you advice on a few issues, guys;

    - How do I communicate that her original idea is rather basic (and that I wouldn't want it to be seen as something that I 'created')
    - That she hired me to design her a logo, not trace one
    - That the branding process is more than replicating the original mockup
    - That 'less is more' and that the heart inside the o is a little bit overused and not very visually interesting

    Thanks for reading this, I'd really like some feedback, because I don't want to sound rude or pretentious in my email and drive her away because of this
  2. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    You can't. Believe me, I've tried. Just do what they want to keep them happy and put the better option in your portfolio.
  3. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    You just do what the client wants you to do. That's what they pay you for.
  4. The Northerner

    The Northerner New Member

    As above, just give her what she wants. You know you have done a good job. Give the client want they want but offer other concepts as suggestions.
    As paul suggests put the better concepts in your portfolio. Alternatively work them up further to where you would like them.

    I would also say for future reference try and get the client to give you a clear design brief. Maybe knock up some guidelines to fire out to potential clients.
    Not all clients will be able to create a brief so having guidelines will aid them. Asking questions with regards to the project. As this also helps with pricing,
    knowing how much work is involved.
  5. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    Most clients just don't get that creating a brand is not creating a logo THEY like. Maybe as part of the process in the future you have a kick off meeting and explain a bit more about what you will be trying to do and who you will be trying to engage with - i.e. her target audience
  6. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    In fairness to the client, it sounds like they were pretty clear about what they wanted from the outset, and that would have been the stage to discuss options for the approach. This much further down the line, they're sticking to their original instructions despite what sounds like a significant amount of (basically unsolicited) work on your part.

    I think that the first time anyone gets the chance to show what they can do in a professional creative sense, the tendency is to demonstrate all of your knowledge and expertise but that isn't always what the client wants: this should be (and sounds like it was) clear before you get to work on a project. In short, find out what people want and give it to them - it might not sit at the most satisfyingly creative end of the spectrum but it's good business.
  7. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    This is something I learnt the hard way very early on. A clint would ask for something, often being quite specific, and I'd do what I thought was a better option. But because it's not what the client wanted or expected, they'll refuse to accept it, and you'll find yourself in the situation you're in now.
  8. Delta-Design

    Delta-Design New Member

    Thanks for the reply! Believe me, I offered several different kinds of approaches, from more complex brands, to simple typography, but she barely gave any feedback. As of now, I think I'll just trace her original one and be done with it, as she is now asking for it to be completed soon and obviously isn't happy with any changes to the original idea. Thanks again!
  9. Delta-Design

    Delta-Design New Member

    She wasn't very clear, she just posted a pixellated mockup and said 'something like this.' I also did discuss the approach with her by sending a few emails back and forth asking what kinds of emotions she wanted her brand to convey, as well as examples she liked and what kind of typography she wanted. She even liked some of my original concepts, but then eventually just reverted to 'something like this' and resent the mockup.
  10. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Fair enough, but 'something like this' is the consistent marker here and that would have been my starting point for pinning them down. It's all well and good introducing concepts like emotion (although it's not a word I could comfortably use with a client... 'values' maybe...) and generating a range of original concepts but I think my first response would have been to clarify whether 'something like this' actually meant a properly drawn-up version of 'this' or something original using 'this' as inspiration. I think the thing is that there are clients who - rightly or wrongly - don't want to be burdened with involvement in all stages of decision-making and you need a means of clarifying and understanding their requirements clearly as early as possible in the process. They'll get what they want one way or another and giving it to them with a minimum of fuss is the key.
  11. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    Yep, that about sums it up.

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