As designers, our relationships with our clients can be one of the paramount factors in creating a well-designed, successful brand.
In order to capably portray a brand, its promises, its people, and its ethics, we need to know the ins and outs of the company—and that knowledge comes from the alliance we build with the client. The importance of these relationships means that recognizing and choosing “good” clients will aid in your creative approach, and lead to a more positive, more productive, and more successful branding campaign.
Relationships are a two-way street, and designers are also responsible for contributing positively to the work environment with the client. We take a look at some of the instrumental aspects of an ideal client-designer partnership, so you are better able to identify clients that will promote your best work. Here’s what we’ve found to be the key factors on both sides.
Trust is essential in the design process. A client should recognize that they hired the designer for a reason—to create and implement plans to promote the brand. In this case, the designer was hired for their specific expertise, and that expertise should be honoured by the client with their trust that the designer will make the strategic, intelligent decisions necessary to establish a successful brand.
On the flip side, the designer must trust the client to know their business like the back of their hand. Designers need to know the object of the brand in order to accurately portray it to the world. More often than not, the client is an expert on his or her business, and the intricate knowledge of the company will aid designers in their ultimate goal.
If there is no trust between the client and designer, the strategic plan will fail before it even begins. Now, this does not mean that the client should choose just any designer and instill trust immediately. The designer must build that trust through collaboration, communication, and analysis of outcomes.
If this reciprocal trust does not exist, then the client should find a new designer or the designer should find a new client.
There must also be mutual respect between the parties. Each must recognize that the other is the expert in their field, and although collaboration and negotiation are necessary, all opinions must be met with respect.
This also aligns with more concrete actions. Respect can be given and received rather easily through open and honest communication, adherence to deadlines, on-time payments, and quick feedback.
Designers are known for their specific taste and pointed vision, and very often, clients do not understand this vision and are apprehensive to its implementation. This is to be expected. Most clients are not specifically educated in the art of design, so they do not fully grasp the need for certain aspects of your creation.
Do not get frustrated with these clients. Take the time to intimately explain each and every piece of your design and highlight what it specifically does for the brand and why it needs to be implemented. Let your enthusiasm and passion drive these conversations, and show them the positive outcomes that will occur if the design is set up to your vision.
A good client shows integrity and transparency from the very beginning. Budgets are set realistically because the client is honest from the get-go, and deadlines are set with practicality. Aggravating surprises are few and far between because expectations are clearly set through the entire process.
A client with integrity will also accept responsibility for any wrongdoings or mistakes that may arise, (and the same goes for a designer). Blame is not shamelessly thrown around because a steady structure of honesty and transparency is set and met by both parties.
Signs of a dishonest client:
- Withholds information until the last minute
- Withholds budget information before seeing a proposal
- Sets unrealistic timelines
Signs of a dishonest designer:
- Unable to meet deadlines
- Often creates intricate excuses detailing why deadlines were not met
- Does not consult with other team members before making a decision
The integrity of both parties will determine the success of the partnership.
A good client is organized. Designers do not want to step into a role and have to put out fires left and right, and they want to have a streamlined process throughout the relationship.
Good clients establish one point of direct contact for the designer to simplify communication. They send follow-up emails recapping important points made during a meeting, and sometimes, they even recognize that a simple email will suffice instead of taking the time to have an in-person meeting.
Organized clients quickly respond to feedback, and if they do not have the time to answer a question fully, they allot time and let you know when they will be able to get back to you.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to tell if a partnership will work before entering into a collaboration. However, clients and designers should do everything in their power to gauge whether the other is trustworthy, respectful, open to change, and organized. These traits will contribute to a successful, positive work environment.
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Nugno is a Branding & Digital Design studio. Founded and run by strategic branding & digital design experts that share a love of innovation, design and digital connection.
We create strategy and design with production across all platforms. We’re masters of brand identity and on point with websites and apps. Our skills extend to designing books people want to read and environments they feel comfortable in. We also create engaging motion design and much more.
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Luca Amoriello, Director
Tel: +353 (0)87 383 2134
Email: [email protected]