Tuesday, February 8, 2011

3 Reasons Why You Should Not Fight Your Client

When a company comes to me for creative services you can believe that I am ready to answer any questions, fill in any holes and get you up to date on what can and needs to be done. I say "needs" because the creative process is a process with purpose. You must create with the purpose of designing something effective and functional. If you're out to create something that just "looks cool", you're doing it wrong. In this world there are two types of creatives. Those that design and those that advise and design. Those that design do just that, design and that's about it. Their concern is to make the client happy by doing countless revisions until it looks pretty to the client. There is no leadership or example of expertise. They simply take orders. And that's the opposite of what the advisor does. The advisor takes your idea and comes up with a purpose, a strategy. Designing for the sake of design is pointless without a plan.

But there comes a time that no matter how much you advise, the client does not want to listen. They simply want what they want and you are simply a tool. It's a shame really when you think about how much a great designer's expertise goes to waste. Why hire a professional in the first place if you're just going to tell him/her how to do their job? I've found myself in situations such as this and have 3 reasons why you shouldn't fight your client.

The Customer Is Always Right
Not exactly. When you're an independent designer you wear many hats. One of those hats is customer service rep. It's your job at this point in the design process to carry out what the client wants even though they're misguided. Why? Because if you keep fighting them they will take your advisement as defiance which will lead to you being stamped as difficult to work with. You will never get any leads through that particular clients network and depending on the client, the network could be a very valuable one.

I Need Money (That's What I Want)
Barret Strong made it very clear that sometimes you just need money, and if you're a young creative sometimes you have to go through some unpleasant experiences in order to become the creative you want to be. I've said so before, "Sometimes we need to be mediocre in order for us to grow and become better". Getting paid to do work that you're not proud of serves a purpose. It teaches you who you want to work with and how to deal with different personalities, which is invaluable. In the end, you get paid in experience and you don't have to display the work you're not proud of in your portfolio or website. Which brings me to...

Just Say No
You're being asked to create something that is beyond mediocre and paints you in a less than professional light. Well, you can say no. No matter what level of creative you are, you can simply change your mind. Let me explain. You might have already accepted half of your fee upfront and begun the preliminary designs or sketches, but the client is not happy and wants to go in a direction that you are advising them against. Call the client and respectfully terminate the contract and state that you do not feel this work will represent you in a professional manner and you would like to give them their money back . I would advise to give back the entire upfront fee, but if you think you are entitled to some of the fee, feel free to negotiate. I'd rather look like a professional than argue though. And that's what it comes down to, being a professional. Sure, you just cost yourself a paycheck, but you have insured your integrity and the client will respect you for it and tell others.

Happy Designing,

Dennis aka tanoshiboy

Do you have any other reasons to not fight your client? Have you been through a similar experience and have a horror story? Do you disagree with any of my logic? Let us know. Comments, shares and tweets are appreciated.