Clients Do Homework. Designers Do Designs. My Reasons Why.

Something that’s essential to my process is having my clients do “homework” before their project can begin. For brands, this means and a logo form and sometimes a vision board. For websites, it’s comparable web research.

With my Type-A clients, homework gets a really positive response. I can tell some people thrive on doing prep work and researching. Others, not so much - sometimes I also get pushback and an aghast “But…but I’m hiring you to do my logo!” Or, I hear “But I’m not creative. I’m not sure how it will help.

Here’s why I ask for this, and why it absolutely helps.

Because it’s vision work, not creative work.

Would you hire an interior designer to come decorate your kitchen without showing them examples of your style?

I’m not asking my clients to design their own logos. I’m asking for them to make critical thinking decisions about what their brands’ personalities are. Vision boards (most often done on Pinterest) are reflections of what your business should be, not creative exercises. They’re also not meant to be super narrow. Pin away! Think a particular color blue will resonate with your audience? Add it! A particular font speaks to you? Add! Add! Add! The creative work is my job: to find patterns and create logos based off of vision.

Because the more work you do on your brand, the more invested you will be.

This doesn’t happen often, but every now again I get a client who wants to fly through the process and just churn out a logo. There are great services for that - 99Designs, Fiverr, etc. But I am not that service. I consider my clients partners. I work to create something meaningful and that captures their brand perfectly.

This work means critical thinking.

Being thoughtful and thinking critically about a brand not only means a client will be invested, but also that their brains are going to start thinking in terms of brand and not just a quick logo. Critical thinking means that when they finally see my first round of logos, that they understand the thinking and directions and why I presented them the way I did. This leads to a higher chance of success.

It leads to better feedback.

Feedback is something very tricky to teach others how to give. Instead of “I don’t like it,” we designers want to know WHY. Whether you hate or don’t love something doesn’t matter - what matters is how we can move forward to get to “love.”

When clients are invested already by filling out a form and working on their initial vision, when giving feedback, they say things like “I see you tried to emulate [this image I pinned] but now that I’m seeing it, I’d love to see [this font I researched.]” Or, if they’re unsure, they say “I think we want to go in a direction that’s brighter. These logos feel dark for the brand.”

Those examples leave emotions at the door, and have the client’s critical feedback as it pertains to their business and brand, not their personal tastes.

All of the above are reasons why I have my clients do homework ahead of time. While I’d love to peek into the minds of every client I meet and pull out exactly what I need to create a beautiful logo, I can’t. I have to rely on my process and tools to be able to achieve the perfect design for everyone.

Below is a free “how to make a vision board” for anyone trying at home!


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