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Upsetting a Client

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by Chantelle Prempeh, May 5, 2013.

  1. Chantelle Prempeh

    Chantelle Prempeh New Member

    Hi everyone,

    Just a quick question and some needed advice.
    I started work with a client for fashion start up, who has already had her logo designed by another designer.

    At the moment I'm designing some labels but felt the logo wasn't reflecting what the brand was suppose to be and what the client told me, so I asked for some feedback from some friends of mine who could potentially be interested. My assumptions were correct and everyone said they probably wouldn't buy or look at it, and quite significantly it resembled a logo of a massive brand and that it was bordering plagerism.

    So i emailed this to my client, who seemed happy at first until they read the responses, I've now had an email were they feel i have diminished the brand value and reputation.

    My gut feeling is that if the responses were positive there wouldn't be an issue. I apologised as they stated the intellectual property rights belonged to them, (though i'm a little confused by this as their web pages feature images that have 'borrowed' from a massive retailer?!) and said I couldn't do any market research without permission

    How do I move on? And was I right to ask for feedback as a designer, or should I have just designed them and sent them straight to her?
    (sounds a bit Dear Deidre!)

  2. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't worry too much about the etiquette issue but I would be uncomfortable if I felt I was producing work within an overall framework/brand which I strongly felt was an exercise in passing-off. It's never easy to turn your nose up at a job but, in the event of any legal issues down the line, it doesn't sound like you could legitimately claim to have been working in good faith, knowing what you know (I'm not even sure that the concept of 'good faith' would have any value as a defence in a trademark dispute). Try explaining to them the value of what you've done in highlighting the issue (out of genuine concern for their interests), offer to help put it right and, if they're still happy with things as they are and had failed to convince me that I was mistaken, I'd think hard about my ongoing involvement.
  3. Dodfaefife

    Dodfaefife New Member

    If you think there's still money to be made from them as a client, then it won't hurt to blow a little smoke up their arse to try to get them onside. I'd explain that, as a "highly experienced professional" you were "concerned that the current logo fails to successfully convey their brand in a manner that reflects the standards they clearly hold to" and that "by using imagery that could 'appear' to be echoing the style of others makes it difficult for their brand to stand out and really doesn't need to ape others with what it has to offer" (cough, cough). Telling them you and your mates have critiqued their logo was a bit of a faux pas and I wouldn't have admitted doing it to a client. The designer/client relationship is one part priest, two parts teacher with a dash of best mate. You could send them a revised version of the logo to illustrate how much better it could look (free of charge of course) "because you feel they deserve better and that is what motivates every decision you make when working with a client." Good luck.
  4. Chantelle Prempeh

    Chantelle Prempeh New Member

    Thanks for the feedback, I understand that I may have been wrong in showing others, as I work alone I get feedback from othet creatives who happen to be friends. The thing is I wasn't showing them the logo, I was showing them what I had designed, which is what I had relayed back to the client I have feeling they didn't understand that, also i'm confused on why they would feel the need to sue me.

    The client than resulted in me that the people she asked liked it and she did herself, which I don't doubt but that's not my stand point and neither was it of anyone else, we were looking at the design from design and brand identity POV and they did not match.

    There's no money in it as of yet, apparently there seeking sponsorship and only then would there be talk of money, so i'm not tied down to this project.

    There's also the fact that anything I do I would have to hand over all rights to the client, so the only benefit I receive is credit.

    I think i'm not going to proceed with continuing to work with this client.
  5. Dodfaefife

    Dodfaefife New Member

    If there's no money in it then call their bluff and let them know that you're disappointed that they miss-understood your intentions but understand if they wish to cease co-operating further on the project while wishing them all the best on their enterprise and stress that, should they wish, you would welcome working with them again in the future.
    You'd be surprised how often they come back when they realise they're about to be left with no designer. No one is suing anyone. People throw threats like that around like confetti but until it appears on solicitors stationery its just wind. You embarrassed them buy questioning their integrity so they got a bit arsey. End off. Pull out and move on.
    Chantelle Prempeh likes this.
  6. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    There's no reason why they should sue you; I was referring to the possibility of the people whose trademark you think they might be stepping on raising a complaint against your client and the associated risk (should such a situation arise) of your designs being cited in the complaint. I'm no expert in these matters by any means but, looking at that suggestion of plagiarism/passing off in your original post, I wouldn't want to expose myself to any risk in a scenario I had reason to believe was iffy from the outset.
  7. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    At this point I'd resign yourself to the strong possibility that you are not going to have a collaborative professional relationship in which your design skills are going to be valued and where ego comes second place to getting the job done professionally. If you can afford it, bail out.
  8. gprovan

    gprovan Member

    It was possibly a bit much for her to take in. She may have been heavily involved in the design process and feels hurt that anyone should suggest that it's not actually that good. In saying that, you probably should have gently worked it in and gauged her opinion.
    I was involved in a similar case a few years ago. Everybody thought a design for a new organisation was terrible and emails flew about suggesting that we should all (being creative folk) submit our own ideas and get everyone's feedback. Turns out that the founder had designed it and, despite telling everyone that it was 'their' organisation, was extremely angry that nobody liked it. She even went so far as to say that she was hurt, had spent time and effort creating it and was fairly abusive to everyone.

    Anyway, I would say that you are creative and are proud of your work and feel that you should be honest if you don't like something. She might eventually see it your way.
  9. Chantelle Prempeh

    Chantelle Prempeh New Member

    Thanks everyone for your responses, in the end I sent an email wishing them the best but I wasn't going to continue working on this project with them, I think I may have bruised their ego but seeing as they come from an academic background and not a creative one, they were not going to value my opinion! anyway always more fish in the sea
  10. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I find it very easy to upset clients. No matter how much you tiptoe around them, you're going to piss a few off and as gprovan says, it's usually the ones who've 'designed' stuff themselves. They often think of you as their tool to getting a job done and don't see the value in your skill so will never value your opinion.

    For what its worth I think you've done the right thing. I've worked with people like that and have never been truly happy to put my name to the end product. I now try to work to an ethos of "don't do anything that might damage my reputation" and the above certainly sounds like it could have caused you some grief.
  11. I think in one way you did a nice thing by being honest with her. However, its worth applying a bit of psychology to these situations. You are being objective but the client, if its a recent logo, is very subjective. Pointing out the logo isn't great can be misunderstood by them as saying they have bad taste (which to a degree is what your saying if you look at it from a negative angle). I've worked with many logos that I don't like and try to put feelers out when I talk to the client to see if they are defensive of not. If they are, then, I need to just be objective, professional and do the work that they want to the best that I can with what they've given me. After a few projects and trust, it may be an issue we can pick up on but probably not something to be approached on day one when the relationship is very new.
  12. alanRammel

    alanRammel New Member

    I bet that was liberating.

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