At Fletcher Prince, occasionally we work with people who have not worked with graphic designers before. It takes a little educating to help them understand that they are a partner in the creative process, especially when it comes to logo design, which is one of the most challenging of all graphic design assignments.
Here’s an imaginary story I came up with to illustrate how a graphic design project can be a partnership.
So, imagine, that Joe hears that the “Fletcher Prince Cafe” has amazing burgers. He decides to to have lunch there. ”Mary,” the server comes over. (I really did wait tables in college, by the way.)
Joe says, “My friends say you’ve got great burgers. Please bring me a burger.”
Mary replies, “Sure! How would you like that prepared?”
Joe considers, and admits, “Well, I really don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. I just know I need a burger.”
“Okay,” Mary says. “How about this? I will bring you three choices and then you can select one. We’ll charge you for the burger you like best.” That sounds good to Joe.
So Mary returns shortly with a plain burger, a cheese burger, and a veggie burger.
“Hmm,” reflects Joe. “These all look good, but they are not quite what I had in mind. Can I see the cheeseburger with a whole wheat bun?”
“Certainly,” Mary replies. She returns with the revised burger. Joe considers all the burgers, including the revised one.
“It is almost there, I think,” he tells her. “Is it possible to add pickles?” “Of course,” answers Mary. She returns with pickles on the cheeseburger.
Joe considers. “Well, that looks really good. That IS what I THOUGHT I wanted, at first. But now I am having second thoughts. Maybe what I want is not a cheeseburger, after all. Maybe what I am in the mood for is a piece of your chocolate cake.”
“That’s fine,” says Mary. “I will bring you chocolate cake. But I must ask you to pay for the burger you ordered. We put a lot of work into trying to deliver what you asked for.”
Do you think Mary was justified in asking for payment for the burger? I hope you said yes!
Our logo fee generally includes three designs, and an explanation of why the designer created those designs in that way. The client gets to pick the one he or she likes best, and then they have up to two revisions for that design that are also included in the fee. Any additional revisions are billed.
You may wonder, well, what if the client doesn’t like any of the three designs? That doesn’t happen very often, but if it did, the client would still be responsible for payment. They contracted for three options and two revisions at a fixed fee. The graphic design work was still done.
It’s up to the client to look at a designer’s portfolio, check references, and have discussions with the designer before the project is undertaken. Those steps help ensure that the result will be satisfactory.
The client has to trust in the process somewhat, but more importantly, the client should make sure the designer has all the information he or she needs to deliver the logo as desired. Just like Joe could have been more specific about what he wanted on his burger, or considered his needs and preferences more carefully before ordering.
Fortunately, we don’t have these misunderstandings with our paying clients — probably because we make these terms crystal clear before we begin work, and we put the terms in writing. In the worst case scenario, we have a 50% kill fee (the deposit we collect up front for all our contracted fixed fee work), because we recognize that we have done our part to make the project work out. But we have not yet had to enforce it, thank goodness.
The next time you are thinking about hiring a graphic designer, think about my Joe and Mary story. Keep in mind that your valuable input and your ongoing communication with the designer is a vital (and fun!) part of the creative process and helps produce a successful graphic design outcome.
In this short video, several graphic artists talk about how they develop typefaces — what inspires and motivates their designs.
PBS Show Notes:
- The Human Face of Type (nybooks.com)
- MoMA | 23 New Digital Fonts in MoMA Collection (dogsmeat.wordpress.com)
- 10 Essential Books on Typography (brainpickings.org)