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How to deal with that incredibly controlling, completely stupid client

Let’s faces facts. Every now and again, you’ll come across that one client in your designing career, that really believes they know more about design than you do. You’ll think things like, “Why did you hire me” and “You don’t know anything at all” which can be understandable, but some of us take it a step further and tell the client why all their ideas are dreadfully wrong.

Here are a few tips on how to survive a situation like the one described above:

Keep Your Cool

One thing we all have to do is keep our cool. If you tell the client that their ideas are bad, they may just decide to hire someone else. Nobody who thinks they have a great idea, likes to be told it’s not great. Especially since this is their company and they ultimately have the final say in the design. There are a few ways you can let the client know that their idea isn’t the best, without jeopardizing all the hard work you do, so take a deep breath and try them out.

Show Them What You Mean

One simple way to let the client know their idea isn’t the best way, would be to show some logos and designs that weren’t successful with the same concept. You could also go ahead and do what they ask, and then tell them why it won’t work. For example, a lot of clients like to use cool swooshes in a design, but it’s so overused that they wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. Simply do what they request, then throw a bunch of logos you find with the same idea all around it. Tell the client to find their design within 5 seconds. Sort of like a logo I spy. Everyone learns through example.

Try To Reason With Them

Maybe the client should know just how experienced you are. Simply explain why something won’t work without being cocky about it. For some reason, people will assume that designers think they know everything, and can come off as snobby, so try to be polite. It can be a touchy situation, but try your best to let your view be known. If the client wants an overly complicated logo, let them know that the public needs to remember it in about 2 seconds. Another good thing to tell them is that if they can’t draw it from memory, or explain how it looks to another person, then it probably isn’t a good idea to go with that logo.

Will It Work In Print?

If a logo is too complicated or too detailed, it most likely will look bad in print. This is something the client must know. Sometimes work can be overwhelming for them too. They hired you because you know something they don’t, and they count on you to relay this information to them. So if they have you doing a logo that will not even look close to good in one color, or if there’s just too much going on, bring up how it could look in print. The same applies for sizing. If you shrink it to 1-inch, can you still recognize it?

If All Else Fails: Give it a Try

There are some cases where it might just be a good idea to try what the client likes. Actually, you should always give it a shot. No one person can hold the perfect idea all the time, so trying other ideas can expand your horizon. You would really come off as snobby if you’re not even willing to try other ideas. Who knows, the client may just teach you something you never knew.

In Conclusion

Even though you want to tell the client that their ideas aren’t so great, you should try them out anyway. If they are really bad ideas, be polite and explain why things won’t work. You want your logos to be simple, clear, and easy to remember, and by showing examples of why their idea won’t work can solidify your explanations.

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2 Comments

  • by rAX
    Posted March 15, 10:23 am 0Likes

    Hello,

    I found your article while searching for the same subject, you do have great points and I completely agree, however, I’m still wondering, if you do as they say, and make a completely ridiculous(or as you said overused) design (means failing to make the client think that his/her ideas are outdated!), can this action affect you and your reputation in the future? or saying “I only did what I’ve been told to do” can save your career?

    Thank you.

  • by Jamie Miller
    Posted April 14, 4:58 pm 0Likes

    Hello rax. I believe that if you are just honest, professional, and upfront with the client, all will be well. You should also go ahead and give your client’s ideas a shot, but if it doesn’t work out, politely explain why, and give a better example.

    Remember that clients trust in your design expertise. Don’t let them down.

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