Easy as ABC? Pt. 2 of 2
Time Estimating Essentials for Designers

The Client as Visual Decorator

Make It Red

If you've ever had a big corporate client, you've probably had the following type of conversation:

Designer: We've used purple in the logo because it connotes royalty, and since our audience is British nobility, we think it'll really resonate on a deep emotional level.

Client: I don't like purple.

Designer: I understand your personal preference towards another color, but our research and review of your competitive landscape reveals a real opportunity to make purple the real differentiator between you and the Goliath Corporation.

Client: Really, every time I see purple, I get violently ill. There's no way I'm looking at this logo every day for the rest of my life [or until I sell my company next week]. Show me more options.

Designer: Er... [looks panicked, locates nearest exit]

You know how this conversation ends. You make the change or you don't progress with the job. Put up too much of a fight and dishes get thrown around the kitchen, threats are made, and usually by the time everyone's gone kissy-face and made-up, the long-term prospects of working with this client are toast because you weren't a good listener.

How do you keep from ending up in this situation? The answer's in the description above: do your research, and have a reason. Explore the nooks and crannies of your audience strategy, what their likes and dislikes may be, before you dig into the work. Discuss this when sharing the creative brief with the client, not the designs. See if you can have them unpack any nuances of their personal taste versus the audience's taste. If they aren't the target audience, then you've planted the seed for having a balanced conversation about your aesthetic decision-making.

This approach does require more time and planning before your meeting, to ensure that your color decisions have firm ground beneath them and can be summarized succinctly. It also helps if you can quote a primary source or research as basis for your decision, rather than giving a personal opinion.

This may be scary for designers that are more intuitive about their decision-making process, but ideally you should be working out these kinds of issues independent of showing your design work. If your client can't articulate an opinion or doesn't have a vocabulary to discuss things like color, sometimes it requires trotting out the dreaded mood boards -- a visual dartboard that can be used to help shape opinion about the final design effort.

However, if you just send the completed creative brief to your client, await their signature, then dive into your design project without any ground for your aesthetics as well as your strategy, you're just asking for an extra round or two of rework to get to the right solution. And do you really have the time for that?


Emiliano Perez Ansaldi

Clap, clap, clap.

Excellent. I have nothing more to say.


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