When a client wants to change your ideas

Clients often want to change or alter a brief but that doesn't necessarily make them difficult to work with, they're simply doing their job or have their own ideas.
Briefs can develop from the first point of contact pretty much until the piece gets handed over. In my experience they're not usually re-written but once I've started inputting my thinking, things can change. Once the client sees the design, the brief can often change again because perhaps the way I've approached things has triggered more thought. This is all part of the process and you can't be precious about a piece of design or an illustration until it's signed off and going to print.  
It's one of the hardest things to learn: I've had some awesome work or routes for a piece to go down, then had them shot down and re-directed for what felt like ridiculous reasons. You have to suck it up, breathe, think and then come up with something better, incorporating the client's 'new, magical, solution' (if you can) or provide an alternative.
Importantly you need to be aware of this part of the process when quoting for a job and be sure that both you and the client are clear on their expectations for the agreed fee. There is a fine line between reasonable development and whimsical, client pandering and you should always be compensated for revisting work unreasonably. If you stick to this mentality, nine times out of ten the job will develop well and you will receive a satisfactory reward for your efforts.
Don't get deflated and defeated by any failures during this process, because having a piece rejected or being asked to go back to the drawing board is not actually a failure, it's a learning curve. In my case when I work with a good art director I'm aware that they should be able to see things I can't (because that's their job) and even if you're an excellent designer, illustrator or web designer etc, be prepared, they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't push you and point out faults.

Through experience you can get a much better understanding of the process and your role within it. Sometimes you can get lucky and you're left alone to literally fulfill a brief because the client trusts you and knows you'll come up with the goods. On the other hand, then there's the client that can go really into detail about what they require but don't really know what they want – experience helps you to spot this and stop it from becoming a real time waster. When you don't agree with a brief you have to 'advise' and help shift the client to believe what you think is the best course of action – you need experience and confidence to do these things and to create the best pieces - after all, that's your duty.

Tom Lane (a.k.a Ginger Monkey)  


27th June 2008

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