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Is the client always right?

I sat in a meeting recently where a client said, “I want our company logo to be as recognizable as the McDonald’s logo…but it has to be neon orange and green.” Clients are often unsure about what they want, but less often do I hear from clients who sabotage their own logos before the first designs are even produced.

The golden arches of McDonald’s are recognized by billions of people. They’re recognizable because McDonalds is a huge international company that serves millions of people burgers every minute. However, in this case, the client was an owner of a tiny company that nobody had ever heard of, in an even smaller niche industry. No matter what the logo design would end up being, a few seconds of simple, rational thought by the client would prove that his company’s logo would never be as recognizable as McDonald’s golden arches.

The client had the idea that a good-looking effective logo would be the key to his success; that his brand would BE his logo. He didn’t want to hear that the logo is a piece of his brand, and that the real key to building a large business like McDonald’s was a great product, not his logo.
And then there is the issue with the color: The company was so new and so tiny that they didn’t have a company color. The industry had no recognizable color either. It was more than a little surprising to hear that a client wanted orange and green colors for a logo, but could give no reason for it, other than a personal preference. Orange and green would be fine for a logo if there was something, ever so small, that made using neon orange and neon green a good choice.
In a world where client is king, this particular king would never be happy with whatever logo was produced for the very reasons that was used to describe what he wanted the logo “to be”. In this instance, don’t spend too much time trying to please the client. Come up with a few options and move onto a project where the client actually collaborates by listening to you. Every designer has had difficult clients, but the key is to pick out, early in the process, those clients that will never be pleased. It will save you time and your creative sanity if you begin to recognize the signs of crazy!

I will contrast this with another client we had in the early days of BusinessLogos. His brief had no preference on color, but preferred to see what we recommended. He knew his target audience, and he knew what “feel” he wanted; fun, modern, with a hint of classic nostalgia. He was a frozen yogurt shop that was opening in an area with small competition in that market, and he wanted to build his brand around a quality product with nutritious and handmade ingredients. The brownies people add to the yogurt are made right there in the kitchen, for example.

This man knew that his product had to be great, and that the logo would be his signature. We gave him a great set of concepts to choose from, and then we tweaked it a little to his satisfaction. We also did his stationery, website, and other marketing pieces.

Sales have exploded. He just opened his third store, and is opening his fourth soon. He is starting a mobile unit. He is treated like a business rock star by his customers and peers. They just had a wedding in one of their locations. I love talking to him and we continue to work with him to create an even better website and marketing pieces. This type of client experience is the reason I wanted to be a designer.

What are your clients stories?

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