Identifying Client Personality Types

Hi there,

Are there a few types of client you feel like you run into repeatedly? Are you able to identify them early on and plan/estimate accordingly?

Like if you can see you have a client who is very detail oriented you might plan revisions more carefully or if you know you have someone who is super budget or time conscious you might spend more time on explaining process ahead of time. Also curious about this in relation to landing new clients, knowing what to focus on when presenting yourself.

Or maybe you know of some good books or articles about it as it relates to visual design work.

Thank you!

The type of clients I’ve learned to identify almost immediately (and turn down) are:

(1) The ones who aren’t serious (tire kickers) or are evasive (deadbeats).

(2) The ones who assume that I’m just the artsy guy they need to hire to implement their awful ideas.

(3) The ones who don’t realize that I charge more than the kid who mows their lawn.


B mentions case-by-case client personalities that can usually only be detected when you meet the client or hear about them from someone else who’s worked with them.

If you are looking for more general types, there are factors such as big companies vs small companies in client personality, but not necessarily critically decisive factors. Another broad sweeping generalization of client types are business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) which I think is somewhat relevant to client personality. Business-to-government (B2G) is a variation of B2B which brings it’s own unique factors.

There are also various industries which affect the client personality type by the nature of the business within their industry. For a while I was avoiding biotech companies until the entire biotech industry got a little more sophisticated working with graphic designers.

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That is super interesting to me, I hadn’t thought much about how the industry effects the relationship but it must be huge, how many creative projects come through that industry right? If not many, then a lot of education is required.

I was just working with someone with a science and healthcare industry background and I felt like I was not communicating well at all. My clients have typically already been in a creative field or team I guess.

I’m INTJ on the Myers-Briggs personality test. We pair really well with ENFP’s. All my best personal and professional relationships have been with that type. On the other hand, ESTJ’s are a terrible match as clients for INTJ’s. They fire me or I fire them. It’s dogs and cats.

INTJ’s are very curious, good at asking questions, listening, remembering, and providing honest, unfiltered feedback. We’ll speak the truth to power without concern for the consequences. That’s a trait the ENFP’s tend to highly value. They’re clients who need to feel like they are being heard and they value blunt honesty.

ESTJ’s on the other hand are all about the chain of command, appearances and following orders. Appearance is more valued than truth. They tend to look at people who ask questions (an INTJ specialty) as being incompetent or insubordinate. I’ve been fired a few times and it’s always been by ESTJ’s.

Books on Myers-Briggs and personality:
Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence
The Art of Speedreading People
Just Your Type

Oh yeah, that’s a great idea to use these for awareness of how to work with clients. Thank you :slight_smile:

Haha, those are great. What are the types you are happy to work with?

Mojo, I love that you brought up the Myers-Briggs personality types. But… I haven’t found that ESTJ’s are as you describe. “ESTJ personalities lead by example, demonstrating dedication and purposeful honesty, and an utter rejection of laziness and cheating, especially in work. If anyone declares hard, manual work to be an excellent way to build character, it is ESTJs.”

(I’m an ISTJ.)

I’m also an INTJ, but bordering right up against INTP. I have no idea what most clients I’ve worked with might be since I rarely know them well enough to make a guess, let alone have them take a test. Maybe I ought to start requiring one. :wink:

Hahaha, funny and true atst.

Intrigued by this so I took the test… Turns out I’m an ADVOCATE (INFJ-A) whatever the bleep that means.

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I was curios too so I also took the test, turns out I’m a LOGICIAN PERSONALITY (INTP, -A/-T) :sweat_smile:

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There’s also the DiSC thing and the colors one, which I forget the name of. Corporate horoscopes aren’t they? Personality tests are so fun. I think the DiSC one could be easier to use with people you don’t know.

Best I’ve turned up so far about client types and design work:

Allegedly we’re the rarest snowflakes, but I think it’s just what one INFJ started telling everyone and it spread.
Anyway, think Jon Snow. Lots of idealism and disappointments. :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you that confident in determining who’s which MB type? Just curious!

Now I’m really confused - I was ok with :avocado: but I’m a :snowflake: ?? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::crazy_face:
The meaning is subtly different here - in the US I understand it is an insult meaning (in US terms) liberal wimp. In the UK it means a millennial with a fragile sense of self worth. I plead not guilty to both. I would consider a US liberal to be to the right of me politically. Idealistic, yes and hopeful for the future but frequently disappointed by what I see going on around me. I find it helps to laugh, like the members of the UN General Assembly recently.

Haha, I meant neither! This is what it says on the 16 personalities website, hence the special snowflake comment. :smiley:
“The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population”

INFJ and INTJ are supposedly quite rare, yet most every mention of the Myers-Briggs classifications I run into on various forums result in the majority of the people responding claiming to be one or the other.

Maybe it’s all nonsense or maybe, as I suspect, people with those personality types are more inclined to take personality tests and hang out in online forums.

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I have noticed that too. I guess the latter makes more sense.

I worked on a monthly newsletter about Myers-Briggs research the editor was also INFJ. We worked well together. I’ve taken the test a few times and I’ve gotten INFJ every time.

It’s important to me to weed out the non-serious clients early on. The ones that seem like tyre-kickers usually disappear if I mention a deposit. The faster you identify the problem clients, the better.

My favourite clients are super organised with content but give only a few tips on creative aesthetics. The worst clients are ones that don’t have any content but want you design a 4 page brochure.


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