Discussing colour / concepts etc with client

Most of my work is outsourced to me from other agencies / freelancers. I’ve recently started working with a new client who works in digital marketing.

He seems to want to discuss a lot of things with the client before I get to work on any designs. This has got me wondering if I should be doing the same?

So for example, when I was working on some logo ideas for one of his clients, we were all in a meeting. And he was suggesting that I discuss ideas for the logo with the client in the kickoff meeting… e.g. the kinds of imagery / symbols that we might use in the logo, and discussing what kinds of colours we might use.

This has got me wondering if I’m not being thorough enough in my meetings.

But I struggle to come up with ideas during meetings. Nor can I find a way to justify design decisions before I’ve even started working on anything, e.g. ‘I think this should be blue’ or ‘Perhaps we should base the logo on a tree

My usual process is more like so:

  1. Discuss clients’ business goals, values, competitors keywords etc

  2. Present some moodboards to get more of an idea on what aesthetics the client likes (not so much the ‘concepts / ideas’ behind them)

  3. I go away and collate all this information, get my head down and work on a bunch of concepts, seeing what ideas I can come up with and refining them how I see fit

  4. Present to client, and revise based on their feedback

I’m curious as to how other people work? Do you follow a similar process to myself or more like the one my client uses?

I completely agree with your approach (in the main – I don’t use mood boards).

As a designer you need to find out what the client needs. Their goals, aspirations, market, customer base, etc, etc, as you seem to being already. Of course if they have any preferences, take them into account. Once you have all the relevant information, it is your job to visually communicate and problem solve. That includes colours, typefaces, etc, in order to tell their story. The only exception, to my mind, is of course, if they have an existing brand you have to work within. They should then have some brand guidelines that you can follow for house style.

If you get the customer to choose colours from the outset, they are going to pick colours they like, not necessarily ones that work best for them.

If I am honest, and adding the caveat that I don’t have the full picture, but I think it could appear that this new chap is potentially being a bit lazy in wanting to be led by the nose by the client. It is your job as a designer to point your client in the right direction.

That’s my take.

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Or it could be the new guy doesn’t want the expense of a second client meeting?
A lot of times if I’m going out to meet a client and survey for a sign job, I don’t want to be going back later. Most sign jobs can’t support more than one site visit charge. I have to charge for the time and can’t be competitive if I have to make a second trip (usually a 4-hour minimum given drive time.) Sketching on the fly does happen at these meetings. But all design work and layout is done later, and approved via PDF.

Great thanks, glad it’s not just me then!

All our meetings are on Skype because of the lockdown… my client is one of those types who seems to want regular meetings with his clients (cant say I’ve ever been one of those types myself though :laughing:)

Yeah, we use Zoom. It’s still billable time though.

My process is more like yours. The first meeting is more about solidifying the relationship, selling oneself, listening carefully to what the client says, then asking lots of questions. Depending on the situation, I might suggest some general directions, but there’s no way I’d just design something on the spot for them or dive headfirst into a brainstorming session.

I wouldn’t typically show moodboards to clients in a first meeting. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea, but my initial attempts at a moodboard might be totally off the mark and be made irrelevant by the conversation. When a moodboard might be a beneficial part of the process, I’d rather it be put together by the client after the first meeting to provide me with information on what the client liked and, by extension, what the client didn’t like.

In lieu of a mood board at that first meeting, I usually ask the client what are some logos or websites in their industry that they think are impressive. This will help clue you into what they’re looking for, rather than you blindly pitching a mood.

Thanks both for clarifying! that’s great to hear… sounds like I’m doing the right things then.

RE: moodboards, I mustn’t have been very clear in my original post by the looks of it, I don’t typically turn up at an initial meeting with moodboards to present (have done once or twice), these are what I normally work up after that initial meeting based on discussions with the client :+1:

You were perfectly clear. That’s the way I read what you meant. I just don’t do mood boards at all. After discussions, I tend to go in with a two or three variations of visuals of what they are looking for. That is not to say they are wrong. Plenty of designers use them. I just prefer not to. I find it just muddies the water a bit and you end up discussing the general feel in specific ways, as if it were the finished item.

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