Client Can't Handle Change

I’m currently working with a client who has a horrendous logo and wants to update it for a more professional appearance. At our consultation, I told her I would need to start from scratch and she was okay with that. I presented the totally revamped logo that I was pretty happy with and she was speechless, and not in a good way. I explained my decisions and tried to ply her for feedback, but she couldn’t put into words what she was feeling. I could tell she was so shocked to see her logo of ten years changed, even though that’s why she approached me and that’s what she paid me to do. I gave her a lo-res file and told her to take a few days to think about it so we could have another call to discuss her thoughts and any desired revisions. In the end, if she wants to keep her ugly old logo, I’ll make the changes and take the money, but she seemed so excited to update her business at first. Has anyone encountered a situation where the client couldn’t let go of an old design because of emotional attachment?

I’m not sure if it is emotional attachment or what, but I have certainly had instances where I recommend something to a client and they won’t budge.

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It happens all the time to one extent or another.

I think I mentioned this before, but a couple of years ago, a company in Duluth, Minnesota, contacted me to revamp their series of fishing guidebooks they sold at Walmart and various sporting goods stores. They had dozens of these books for sale for various states full of maps and location-specific fishing information — all as amateurishly designed as anything I’ve ever seen.

They contacted me because I’ve designed several outdoor books, magazines, and fishing and hunting guidebooks.

The president of the company told me the previous owner, his dad, had died a year or two earlier and that his siblings were now in charge of the company and wanted to modernize the books — something they had wanted to do for years, but their father kept vetoing the idea.

When I asked them what they had in mind and how large of a change they wanted to make, they told me that based on what they had seen of my work, they preferred to leave it up to me because they loved what I had done elsewhere.

To make a long story short, they rejected my first ideas as too different from what they already had. I designed a second set of ideas incorporating cleaned-up aspects of their existing books. They also rejected those as being too different. I designed a third set that was mostly cleaned-up versions of their existing books. They rejected those as being still too different, even though they were nearly the same thing as the books they already had, with some of the ugliness removed and simplified. They told me not to proceed with any other designs since it was costing them too much money.

Out of curiosity, I visited their website a few months ago to see what they had finally done with their guidebooks. They looked the same as those their father had insisted on for 30 years.

They wanted change and liked what I had done for others, but when it came down to it, they had too much emotional attachment to what their deceased father had done to do anything differently.

I’ve experienced a similar scenario to this before.

It was a surprise (in a bad way) to the client, because I made a lot of assumptions and on little information I went away and crafted something I thought was a good solution.

The customers experience however, looked something like this:

:green_circle: (old logo) → :red_circle: (new logo)

The transition from their old logo to the new logo was very abrut and unexpected …and it totally fell flat. :man_facepalming:

These days my process is refined to eliminate that surprise :tada: at the end and save me investing time making something that won’t be acceptable to the client :writing_hand: .

My current process looks more like this:

:green_circle: (old logo) → :yellow_circle::orange_circle::red_circle: (new logo)

I gather a lot of information up front about their business, their customer demographics and similarly positioned brands. Then I go away and compile moodboards of varying design directions and present these to the client in real time to gauge their reaction, gather feedback and determine a design direction together.

It’s a gentle transition, so that the new logo isn’t a surprise.

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My process is pretty similar to yours, but presenting the moodboard seems really helpful in setting expectations and softening the blow, so to speak.

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