Ever wonder what gets your Graphic Designer excited… and equally frustrated?
As much as things change, they do stay the same but as far as communicating with your designer, the following list of semi-humorous scenarios will hopefully help shed some light on the design process, setting realistic goals and expectations for your project and how to more effectively look for and communicate with your designer.
Logos and Branding
Logo design has been a hot topic lately (as if it ever wasn't). As we know, pretty much every business has a logo. Even if a simple text-based logo, this does serve as the company's logo. It's an identity and depending on how it was planned, designed or setup, the fact of the matter is that whatever you put out there is how your company image will be portrayed.
Although people may already know this, the process of designing an appropriate logo is often misunderstood. It is important to know some process and expectation fundamentals when it comes to logo design, or really ANY type of design.
The following list may seem funny to some, annoying to others and perhaps downright infuriating. It really depends on who's reading this. But in an effort to have a little fun, we've curated a list of 6 Things a Designer Never Wants to Hear [from a client]:
While all of these comments/questions may seem valid to the client, often times they present more challenges than solutions for the designer. Logo design involves more than setting type. There is a lot of thought and research that goes into a logo design. Many designers will tell you it's probably the toughest part of designing because it sets the tone for the entire identity of the company.
I don't need anything fancy; just something with my company name
This is something that's said if timelines are short or when budgets are tight. If you look at some of the most successful brands, you'll notice that they do may not have a fancy logo, but rather very clean. Many may think that the cleaner and simpler the logo, the faster it was made. This is not true. In almost every case, the more refined and simple you want something, the longer it takes to get the perfect finishing touches.To name a few of most recognizable logos/brands in the world, NIKE, Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald's. Each of these logos are very simple and use less than 3 colors. In most cases, you will find that the some of the best and most recognizable logos use only one color. Of course, depending on the application, a special effect may be applied, but for the most part, these brands seem to practice the “less is more” theory. It's clean, effective and memorable.
I can't afford much, can we work on trade?
Working on trade can PERHAPS be mutually beneficial for both parties. However, it is important to remember when offering or requesting this type of transaction, that you both need to feel you're benefitting. Equally. Your designer may decline the offer and it is definitely not personal. There is nothing wrong with declining this type of arrangement and here's why: Simply put, it is often times better when a monetary payment is made for the benefit of “cleaner accounting records” and to be downright sure everyone know exactly what they are getting (for what they paid).
Just because trade of services is offered and/or requested, doesn't mean it is the best solution. Trade offers are VERY common and a designer could potentially find herself (or himself) in a position where so many trade offers are on the table and no money is changing hands. Don't forget, designers have bills to pay too!
I like the logo that XYZ company has; can you copy that?
Oh boy. Where do I begin with this one? I have been in this situation before and it's awkward. Yet, I find myself stating the following:
“Inspiration is one thing, plagarism and theft is another.”
When a logo or design is copied – and by copied I mean literally copied to the point that any average person could mistake one for the other – that is considered an infringement of copyright; for the original designer and/or the company that was copied. Sure, anyone can actually copy or recreate a logo or design for his/her own use, but that does not make it original and it does not make it right. Copyright infringement is a serious matter that is quite often misunderstood. Designers (and hopefully their clients) take pride in the original work that is created and want to protect that original work at all costs. So if your designer rejects this question, you now know why.
It is better if a designer creates an original logo for his/her client that is best suited for the business. In the long run, an original and protected design will be better for the brand. As previously mentioned, it's the identity of your company and the mark you use to create brand awareness with customers. Sure, we all see images and concepts mimicked in the media and most often we are able to recognize when this happens. No client wishes to be the subject of intense scrutiny – especially in the digital age where criticism flows like water. No company that I know of, wants people to copy or steal their hard work and claim it as their own. Original is always better.
I have no idea what I want, but I'll know it when I see it
Sometimes it is hard for a client to articulate what he/she wants as it pertains to the new logo design. A good designer will ask questions to help bring out what that client is looking for:
– What is the nature of the business?
– Who is the target audience?
– What will be the primary application for this logo? (web, print, product, etc)
Questions such as these, help the designer to understand you and your company better, what the company does and how it will be communicating with its customer base. They also the designer to research and conceptualize some options for the client in a more informed manner. Usually, a designer will submit an estimate for the creation of a new logo. The number of hours estimated is based on the amount and quality of the direction he/she receives from the client as well as the time involved to research and sketch new concepts. I usually include 2 comprehensive revisions in my cost estimates. For each addition round of revisions, additional charges apply.If there's not enough direction or a client really isn't sure what they want, it might be better to wait before hiring a designer so you can get a more firm idea of what you're interested in. Otherwise, the process will be endless, expensive and frustrating for everyone. Definitely not beneficial to either party.
I could do this myself, but I do not have the time
Sigh. This is a tough one. It's hard to tell if this is a condescending statement, a power play, or perhaps the proverbial “I'm the one that wears all the hats but I just can't do this today” kind of remark. The reality is that no one person can be that good at everything all the time. That's the definition of ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None'. That's why there are people who are experts in a particular field.If in fact the client is capable of doing the work himself and suggests as much, then he might want to do just that.The reason a designer is hired is because experience and expertise is needed.
When a designer is told “I could do this myself, but I do not have the time”, this is usually what is heard: “This should be really easy and it shouldn't take that long and should not be expensive”. When a professional is hired to perform a service (and this applies to just about any kind of service or professional field you can think of), it is most likely because the client does not know how to do it himself, isn't licensed to do it, or has no interest in doing it himself. When a professional is hired to create something for a client, he/she has knowledge that enables the process to move more swiftly, create files that will work across all platforms and mediums as well as communicate with third parties that might come into play (like a printer or sign maker).
Maybe you can come over and we'll work on it together
This is the toughest yet most hilarious. I can't even tell you exactly why it's so funny but it is a tough request to receive. It's equally as hard to have to say to a client “I work better on my own” because it will be perceived as cold and inflexible. What that really means is “I'm sure no one looks over your shoulder at work and watches you and critiques you as you're typing, writing, filing, etc. The only way I can appropriately explain this is:
You've probably seen variations of this many times over. As funny as this image may seem to be, it actually speaks volumes about the design process. Imagine what it would be like if someone was watching you work and offering real time suggestions about your techniques. Admit it, if someone is watching you type, you make about 10x more typos or other kind of errors. (not sure what the science is behind this but for close to 20 years, it never fails to happen).
Of course comments and suggestions are always meant well and sometimes are very useful and valid points, they are almost always a road block in the process of designing. The results are always better if the designer is able to work his/her magic in the studio – where the magic happens – and present concepts to a client when ready.
What has your experience been? Have you ever said or heard these things before? What's your take? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section.
NOTE: This article was originally published in 2009, and updated with more current information