Selling the Design
When I present a design idea to a client, for example a selection of 5 logo concepts, I generally post the concepts to our extranet and send the client a link to view them. Every once in a while, a client will react badly to this tactic, asking why I don’t mount the concepts on black boards and present them to the executive team in person. This usually comes from clients who are used to working with larger agencies, though you sometimes get this treatment from underskilled freelancers.
I refer to this dog-and-pony show as “Selling the Design.” Each concept is given it’s most flattering treatment and then paraded in front of the client, while the designer explains the subtleties of the design. Designs that might have at first seemed obtuse or unattractive are given new life when the designer can explain the reasoning behind the design choices. It works wonders. Clients who are “sold” a design are much less likely to reject it.
There are two reasons that I don’t take this tactic with my work. The first and most obvious is that designs need to stand on their own. I’m not going to be available to explain the nuances of the logo design to my client’s prospects. If part of the logo forms the shape of the first letter of the client’s company name, it better be obvious on the first or second look. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’m not saying a design can’t have subtlety or depth, but that depth better not be essential to conveying the brand qualities, or people are going to miss it.
The second reason is that I don’t have the time to do this for every concept or logo that I have to deliver. I wouldn’t be able to get anything done. That said, I do believe there are a couple of cases where presenting in person (or via conference call) and explaining the design is a good plan. The first is for PowerPoint graphics, which will have someone there explaining the design to my client’s prospects (their sales staff). The second is company names, which usually requires an interactive session, whittling down a large selection of names to just a few candidates. Often, the client does need to know the thought processes that went into selecting each name idea.
Ultimately, selling the design is done for one of two reasons: to make a bad design look better or to impress a client with personal attention. The first is a bad reason, and the second can be accomplished another way. Take them to lunch, and talk about their business.