Advice on a regular client - not agreeing over what looks professional...?


New Member
Hi everyone,

I'll start by saying I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year! I hope to post more in here this year for sure. (all good in hindsight I'm sure!)

I'm hoping that some of you can maybe help me with a situation I have with an ongoing client, I work from their offices 1 day every week. I'm not going into depths about who they are etc but would hope that from how I explain the relationship that some of you can maybe relate to this type of situation!

Come April, I will have been working with them for a year. I have managed to turn their 'brand' round in my time with them, they produce a product so labels/web/any public branding has all been changed so it can be sold in a few of the leading supermarkets. The label design was initially started by another designer who left them in the lurch and I took over and completed the job, building a brand from the design that they produced. I had supplied them, as we were still in the early stages, with an alternative label but they felt that the process was too far gone to change now. Which in my eyes it wasn't at all but I've just stuck myself into it and got on with it! I can only see that things would maybe have been easier if I'd had a better base design to start with but that was sods law and I had to deal with what I'd been given.

My biggest issue is a difference in opinion with a couple of people in the office - this big bosses too! Not any project in particular, it seems to crop up with most things whether it's posters, clothing items etc. This generally comes down to what I think is tacky, unprofessional and when my name is associated with the brand as being their designer, I don't really want to be producing. I hope that doesn't sound too above anyone else as I definitely don't mean it like that, I am grateful to have an ongoing client I just want to try and make them see what is professional and unprofessional.

They use Vista Print for most things, even though I have proven to them that I can get them print for cheap and a better quality finish as I run a printer a couple of days a week too. They call a fun company who don't take themselves too seriously however, their brand has grown significantly in the past year and as more and more of the general public come to hear of them I believe they can still be fun but need to do it in a more professional way. I know these days most people experiment with Vista Print and I'm not saying this is their only flaw, I just hope it gives you a 'bigger picture' of the way they work.

I could probably go on for hours about wee things but I'd rather hope that someone is or has been in this same situation and can shed a bit of light as to how to deal with it.

Thanks guys!
Surely if they are getting into supermarkets with their brand they need to take themselves and their brand seriously. Could you cite Innocent as a brand who has a 'light' 'fun' image but who have taken branding very seriously. Or the tea-bag people Clipper. Ideally you need to get hold of some of their promotional leaflets (that go out to supermarkets) and, as long as they are of the right quality, show them to your client alongside what they are sending out. Hoepfully that will help persuade them!
Thanks for replying Kate - Innocent is great. Clipper are exactly where I'd like them to be heading. Fun, yet professional and a serious message.

They are an alcoholic drink so need to be taken seriously by over 18s, they also class themselves as a premium which I believe should be conveying the more expensive look rather than a serious fun look.
Your bosses will be driven by the profit motive and it sounds like their current identity is doing pretty well for them, hence their reluctance to tinker with it for fear of breaking the charm. Understandable...
My client, I am not employed by them ;)

I understand where you are coming from but they brought me in almost a year ago for change and I have already made huge changes to their brand. I, however, feel that what they are stuck in is tacky and unprofessional and need to get this across to them somehow.
I think your difficulty is that as long as the brand is doing well in the market place and selling, it'll take a lot of persuasion to make them think it's worth changing the formula. It might be that the best you can hope for in the short term is a brand refresh - unless you can unreservedly convince them that there is a whole new market out there who you can pull-in with your new branding and that might only be possible through some thorough market research.

Have they done any recent market research to find out who their customers are or what they want?
Maybe this is where I need to dig deeper into how their product is actually performing on the shelf within the supermarkets. As it is a new brand into the supermarkets, it's never going to dive in and compete directly with the mains brands, these things take time.

I guess my main concern really isn't the labels at this time, as we have just been through this whole process and these are still 'brand new' labels to them. These aren't going to change anytime soon.

I guess it's really the how to convince someone that something looks cheesy and unprofessional. How could you word that to someone without sounding derogatory or what?
I guess there's two ways - put their stuff alongside several really great designs... let them see the difference. Or (this is your cost!) redo as you think it should be and put alongside the several great designs - along with the old one... and let them see the difference. If you do a mock-up of shelves in a supermarket that might help. More research on how it is performing would help also.
Not much you can do to be honest. They are the client and you have to adhere to their decisions, whether their right or wrong (latter most of the time!). What you can do, is if they need promotional material is to subtley change the concept over time. I have done this to one particular big client over the years and because of that, they now have two galleries in the space of 5 years and their mailing lists are growing bigger. I haven't felt their wrath yet but I wouldn't expect it now lol!
Furthermore, if they've only recently got onto the shelves (and, one presumes, partly on the back of their branding), then tinkering with the appearance of the product is potentially going to be counter-productive in terms of brand recognition; one can conclude that any success to date is in spite of the packaging but there is a broader picture (the relative success of the business as a whole) so I wouldn't be thinking about a relaunch at this stage if it were my call (and if I was numbers droid, obviously).