Creative Cadence
Design for lone marketers

Views from the studio

Views from the studio

The client/creative relationship – how to maintain ‘that loving feeling’.

With love in the air this month, we thought we’d look at how clients and creatives can maintain a great business relationship during a marketing or design project – viewed from both perspectives. Feel the love people!

The designer

    1. We’ll always be clear about costs up-front.
      Nothing sours a relationship more than unexpected charges at the end of a project. Any decent designer will meet the client at the start of a project to take a brief, ascertain exact requirements and start to build the relationship. Post-meeting, but before project start, the designer will provide the client with a detailed quote for the job discussed. That way, there’s no surprises at the end. Work shouldn’t start on the project until the client is happy with these costs.
    2. We should always be as communicative as possible.
      Clients tend to worry about their project when they don’t hear anything. A decent designer will stay in touch with the client, telling them how things are going. Even if they’re not ready for the ‘big reveal’ presentation, a quick email to the client, letting them know how things are progressing, along with rough timings is just common courtesy right?
    3. We should talk things through where possible.
      Presenting creative, especially to a new client, is always done much better face-to-face. It’s easier to chat things through this way, the client can ask questions and the designer can often get a feeling for which creative route is going down well (or not) from emotional reactions the client might display (run if they burst into tears though!)
    4. We shouldn’t bamboozle clients with jargon.
      Never assume clients know all about the difference between CMYK, RGB, desktop and responsive, digital or litho. Assumptions lead to misunderstandings, so be clear about terms and processes as much as possible and try to stay jargon-free.
    5. We should always be open about any changes.
      Assuming now that a quote has been created and signed off, designers should be clear about any extra charges that may not have been included, such as stock photography or font purchases or extra charges from third-party suppliers such as printers or web-builders. At least talk it through and keep the relationship open. If extra costs are beyond a designers control, a client will usually respect this. They might not respect them so much if they’re just added to the final invoice without discussion, at the end of the project.


The client

    1. I’ve never worked with a design or marketing agency before.
      A designers job, as well as to design, is to guide you through the process. A face-to-face meeting is essential here. Brief the project well to the designer, and you can both agree what needs to be done going forwards and, in doing so, hopefully avoid any misunderstandings.
    2. I worry about whether I’ll like the finished work.
      Choose your designer carefully, by doing your research. Any of your short-list will have portfolio examples of their previous work on a website. If for any reason they don’t, ask them to send you some. By seeing these work examples, you can gauge if you like their style of design, even if it’s not for your particular business … yet.
    3. I worry about reliability – will they complete the work when they say?
      Discuss a timing plan at your briefing meeting. At least be clear when you would like the work to be completed by, especially if you have a brand or product launch coming up. The designer should advise you if your schedule is unrealistic and offer up a revised suggestion you can agree to. If you can agree timings, then you’re well within your rights to chase things up if things start to slip.
    4. What if my chosen designer or agency uses external suppliers?
      Smaller design agencies or sole-traders often expand their offering by utilising the talents of other smaller suppliers such as copywriters, web builders, videographers, 3D modelling and animation specialists. I’d see this as a benefit, not a negative. All these people will be experts in their fields, trained and renowned for their particular niche. Personally I’d be more wary of a small agency or sole-trader that purports to do absolutely everything themselves – ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’.
    5. Should I give my designer feed-back when the project is finished?
      Absolutely. Any business loves to hear positive feedback and may ask for permission to use your feedback as a testimonial or case study. If, for any reason, you’re not happy, you really shouldn’t have paid for the work, without some discussion. Also, constructive feedback (even if it’s negative) will help the chosen designer or design agency going forwards. Creative Cadence have a plan to send out a ‘How did we do?’ questionnaire at the end of a project with new clients this year, to help us maintain, or indeed, better our services going forwards.

Share our ‘Relationship Flower’ and feel the love in your projects!