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When a client is spoiling a beautiful design

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by bluecube, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. bluecube

    bluecube Member

    Don't you just hate it when a client is spoiling a really good design by making requests like...."can't we make that bit yellow...erm....and that bit yellow....and erm that bit yellow too..."

    How do you manage a situation where a client insists on changes that will essentially spoil a good design??

  2. philjohns

    philjohns Senior Member

    State the fact to them, then if they are still keen make the bits yellow and show them how bad it will look....tell a few white lies too
  3. berry

    berry Active Member

    I've had too many years of this... Now we make it very clear from the first meeting that what we say goes and refuse to tweak client wishes, and there is no subjective client interference. But that is the Armadillo brand and it takes strength to continue that. But after 3 years we have no client interference and the work sails through at a rapid rate of immediate approval. All agencies and designers are not so lucky though. But i would recommend that you fight your corner, but convince them that as a designer there is a reason why 'x' is there and y' is that colour etc. Never show fear or uncertainty otherwise clients will dictate your business
  4. DereckJohnson

    DereckJohnson Junior Member

    As the great Paul Arden said " do it their way, then do it your way".

    Listen to what your client is saying and understand whether that is actually what they want? Explain you opinion on their suggestions. Show them why their suggestions don't work, then show them your interpretation of their comments.

    That way you they feel involved, but you've steered them in the direction that you believe is correct.

    However, there are also times when, at first, a client's ideas don't appear constructive or well thought out, but as you start implementing them it starts to come together. Arguing takes to much time and effort... Listen, show, explain
  5. bluecube

    bluecube Member

    Thans for your feedback,

    @Berry, are you saying you dont take any client feedback at all?

    @DereckJohnson we took this approach but the client keeps reverting to the same demands "can't we make that bit yellow...erm....and that bit yellow....and erm that bit yellow too..." so we explained why this would not be a good idea and offered alternatives which they agreed to we implemented these and then they wanted everything yellow again
  6. Victoria Kelly

    Victoria Kelly Junior Member

    I have to put up with this all the time… I try and deal with it by listening to the client (and biting my tongue) and having a think to see if they do have a point, which sometimes they do. If something is suggested that I think is really horrific I'll either advise them otherwise or show them how it looks and they soon see that it probably wasn't a good idea afterall. That way I don't come across as a diva and as DereckJohnson puts it they feel involved and are happy!
  7. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Hi Nathan,

    As Dereck and Victoria have mentioned, take on board their feedback as best you can, and possibly show them how it would look if it was all their way, in the hope that once seeing this idea in reality they'll see that your ideas are more appropriate/on-brief. It is a tricky balance to achieve once you have started taking on their feedback, but I would try and focus them on your ideas, by assuring them of your teams experience and knowledge in this area. After all it is this experience/knowledge they're paying for - not just an artwork service!

    Let us know how you get on, Greg
  8. DereckJohnson

    DereckJohnson Junior Member


    As you say, sometimes you get stuck in a loop and after all we work in a service industry. Although you should though out all your experience and agree with the client all the time, they are paying the bill.

    On the flip side, they have employed you for your experience and knowledge. If you've given them a considered response/opinion, in writing if possible - then agreed to use yellow - when they realise they've made an error, you can sit back and think 'I told you so', but never say it to a client.

    Doesn't help much with your pride in your work, but makes you feel better and then you have a perfect case study for future arguments, sorry discussions...
  9. DereckJohnson

    DereckJohnson Junior Member

    Dam Greg, you type quicker then me :)
  10. berry

    berry Active Member

    I don't let any client dictate the design and tell us how to design, what shade of colour or what the headline should read.

    They may have an opinion about the presented work, but I keep control over our authority of it and why we are the experts. That is the core of our brand. Otherwise I give them the "If that's what your really want, then I'll take your money and do it' speech. That kinda focus their mind that they are now taking responsibility, accountability and outcome for the design. They then give me the ball,and the Buck back. Why pay someone to do a job and end up doing it yourself. I run a dictorial boat. - My way or No way. I am in control of my business not clients. Feedback is good, but I am confident in our ability and knowledge so I'm not too interested in others opinions. I will always give a reason to my thinking and designs, and through discussion they generally accept our reasoning. Because most of my clients are on regular retainers we have a long term relationship with them that goes beyond supplier and more a marketing and business partner. I have one client that doesn't see or needs to see anything that goes to print as he trusts that what we do is right and we are the experts. It's about trust.
  11. dot design

    dot design Member

    The customers always right! :)

    Yeah right:mad:

    This is a difficult situation and I've tried several things to combat it:

    • point out your reasons for designing it the way you have

    • put forward the version they want and the version you think works better then argue your case..... to the death

    • pretending you have gone deaf when they ask you to change the font to comic sans and add rainbow effects to all the images
  12. matt

    matt Member

    Comic Sans and rainbow effects? What's wrong with that‽
  13. Aarlev

    Aarlev Member

    I wish it was like that where I work. If the clients don't mess up our sites during the design process, they certainly will later on by being "creative" with the CMS. Our clients have way too much control over the sites and the design process in my opinion. Unfortunately the policy here is "client wants, client gets". :(

    From a client perspective I don't really understand it. If I wasn't a designer and needed some design work done I would trust the agency to do what they think will work best. Just like I wouldn't start telling a good chef that he should add more salt when I don't have a clue about cooking.
  14. berry

    berry Active Member

    It's about establishing trust and confidence. Our first meeting with a client is make or break. We've been lucky that in the 3 years I've only had 3 potential new clients who do not want to operate our way and have taken the business elsewhere. But they more than likely would have been hard work if they stayed. In this business we are supposed to be the experts, but we show weakness and pander to clients whims without a fight. Anybody can say yes. But what you inherit is a ball-ache.
    There are a huge amount of inexperience clients who get too involved. By pandering to them you let them dictate your business, output and life. Some clients are just not worth having.
  15. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Hi Nathan,

    Hope you don't mind me moving this thread to the 'Running a Design Business' forum, although it's related to a logo/brand design I felt it was more suited to this forum as the thread is based on how to deal with difficult clients.

    That's sound advice Berry, I've been caught up in freelance projects too many times with clients who think that just as I'm a freelancer I'll be at their every wish and command to produce the design they personally envisaged. I'm slowly learning that the early stages of projects in the brief and quotations are crucial in determining what type of client they will be in the actual design and development stages.

    Nathan, how did you get on with your client? Is everything as bright as this little guy?... :)
  16. David

    David New Member

    I'm always suspicous of people who claim that they never bow to client pressure, the worst interference I've found is that which is most difficult to control, inept clients who wait till the end of a project to show their boss, who, as a result of not being involved in the project from the start, will then wade in insisting on making ridiculous changes, the client then insists these be done as not to question/upset their boss.

    Ideal clients who trust you implicitly take a while to create, it's all about the long term relationship and you may need to take a couple of hits earlier on to get there
  17. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    Wish I was that strong never to bow to pressure! But then I'm human and as a designer, acknowledge that there are other opinions which are equally valid.
    The design process is a two-way thing - a partnership. Yes, it's great when the client takes one look and says 'I love it - no changes!', but feedback is surely an essential part of the process and yes, even though you are the designer, you aren't all-knowing and the client's point of view on their brief will always uncover something you haven't considered.
    It is the management of their input that requires skill and tact and not 'I'm the designer here' attitude which invevitably gets everyone's back up.
  18. berry

    berry Active Member

    Are you infering that I'm teling porkies?
  19. berry

    berry Active Member

    This is where my standpoint is completely different to you.
    1. I'm not a designer I'm a businessman first.
    2. I don't and very rarely take design feedback from clients an essential part of the process. All design should be designed as a selling piece of communication that gets somebody to do something. If you throroughly understand the brief, the objectives and HOW TO SELL ( which is where the majority of designers fail) then there will be little or no client interference.
    3. Because I own my business i have the luxury of 'walking the walk and talking the talk.' But that's because I have 30 years experience of clients dictating your life. Now I am in control. But I am and always have been confident in my own ability to not see my head roll into a basket
    4. I am All Knowing as I have to I understand the clients objectives and deliver the results. If I'm not All Knowing then the client has got the wrong agency.
    5. I never ever let design get in front of the communication. That is the key difference here. If you play the 'designer attitude' then yes your right, hackles get raised and clients play the power game. The management of what you do, how you present and how you sell your ideas as a valid piece of business marketing is the crux of any client relationship.
    6. Finally, Even if your wrong, you are right. Sell sand to Arabs ( no offence to anyone out there)
  20. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Hi Berry,

    Interesting discussion running here, my main question with your approach would be, is the brief stage more extensive as a result of your approach? As some client feedback results from them knowing their own business back to front, and their experience of the marketplace their business operates in surely has value to add to a project?


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