Today I emailed a client who is struggling with figuring what it is he wants in a logo design. The design process can be very difficult for certain types of people. I know it's not "PC" to say that there are "types of people", but when it comes to the creative process, everything is subjective to how you personally see things. The right side of the brain processes things differently for everyone. It's part of what makes art so wonderful! In logo design, however, this can be a frustrating element for some clients who have trouble figuring out what they want.
So let's discuss the different types of clients.
The Open Minded Client
This client comes to the logo designer with a completely open mind and does not have any major pre-conceived ideas of what the logo should look like. You know everything about your business except how to represent it through a brand. You're giving the designer a blank page. This can be quite challenging for the designer, but also very liberating! Most designers want free reign in the design process. This allows the creative juices to flow to a maximum. Keep in mind that you've hired a professional to do a job, not just a flaky, artsy fartsy person (I hope you didn't hire a "flaky, artsy fartsy person"!). Let them do their job just like you like to do your job. That comes with a certain level of trust. Be sure you've done your homework when hiring that person and looked at their work and interviewed them. If you haven't seen their work, you won't appreciate their expertise. The Open Minded client will and should pleasantly have their minds blown with the designs that come out. They will be more open to taking risk and connecting with their customers in a way they never thought possible. A great logo design will do this.
The Visual Client
This client has the ability to be visual on their own, so they usually come to you with a few basic concepts to help jump start your designs. This can be helpful, but it can also be a hinderance. It's helpful in that the designer gets an idea of how you think and what you like. The hinderance is that now you've put ideas into the designers mind that might stifle the creative process. A great quality of a visual client is they do already know what they want and so if the designer hits it, we have a winner early in the process. The down-side is if they don't it can be a long a painful process for you both. Be sure and communicate in very specific ways in commenting on the designs at this stage. Your designer needs to know what it is you don't like about what they've done, including why you don't think it's a good solution.
The "Designer" Client
For a graphic designer, this is the most difficult client to work for. We as designers appreciate your desire to create and be a part of the process, but having the client step into the role as designer pretty much rips the heart out of your designer. Most designers feel that what they do has very much to do with who they are, designs come from within. We're not making widgets in a factory. We're creating something out of nothing. It's a huge task to undertake and it takes a LOT of energy to do this. To have a client come and give you a sketch is one of the hardest things a designer encounters. At this point, the creative process is over for the designer and they are now just order takers and production artist. My suggestion is to be very upfront with you designer before the project begins. If you want to be that heavily involved in the design, tell them, then they can decide if that process works well for their work process. Another option is to hire a production artist. They charge much less than a logo designer and often are more open to multiple changes and variations.
This client is a very sophisticated professional who has previous experience in branding a company. The design and client come together as a team. For a designer this can be a little intimidating at the beginning, but as the process develops, they'll see the benefit of working with this client. The Collaborator Client needs to realize however, that the designer is the stronger person as far as design goes in this partnership. I personally haven't had very many of these types of clients, but would be open to working with this person. I feel that most great ideas come from good collaborating!
Which kind of client are you? Have you stopped to consider your expectations of working with a graphic designer on your brand? Do you make decisions easily or with great difficulty? I'll write later about how to narrow down the decision making process when it comes to branding.