What to do if a designer cannot apply what he prescribes after diagnosis(strategy)?

I believe the best way to elaborate my question would be an example: Suppose a corporate identity designer diagnoses(strategy phase) a design problem of a client after going through the contracts(agreements…) and discovers that the client needs to use a hand-lettered identity system. However, he is specializes in geometric logos and in the use of sans serif and serif typefaces(loves modernism, Swiss graphic design…). He is competent at hand-lettering but not decent enough to provide great value to the client. Should he hire someone else who specializes in hand-lettering in order to apply what he prescribes? Or should he just charge for strategy and let the client hire someone else? BTW how can he actually charge for strategy if the client does not value strategy unless it’s followed by execution?

Thanks in advance!

When working in an agency (in-house or otherwise), there are often several different designers with different skills. If not, jobs are often subcontracted out.

When freelancing, most jobs I’ve worked on are obtained through personal references or from clients who have seen my work and liked it. That being the case, they typically want something similar to what they’ve seen. Also when freelancing, you soon learn to do a little bit of everything. It’s also not uncommon to turn jobs down when the client wants or needs something that you can’t or don’t want to do. Sometimes you put them in touch with someone who can.

There’s no set way to handle any of this. Every job is different, and quite often, you figure it out as you go.

1 Like

As a designer, agency or freelance, you always want to be developing resources. No one person or company can do it all, so you do research and develop a stable of artisans who can help you in your work.

It’s sort of like how it works in the print industry. No one print service can offer everything or own every piece of machinery out there, nor can they offer singular items that take a whole company to make. Any signshop can print a vinyl banner, but if the client also needs an outdoor weatherproof sign embedded as solid phenolic, I’m gonna call one of only 3 companies in North America that do those (note I didn’t say “the US”) and sub it out.

It’s all about getting the client the quality product they need for their project. It’s about recognizing your own personal limitations. And it’s about knowing where to go to get the client what they need. You may have to turn down this work, but if you have a go-to for the client for this project, they may come back to you next time for something else because they know you have their best interests at heart.

1 Like

If I didn’t want to retain the client I would tell them that’s not what I do, and leave it at that. If I was feeling helpful, and I had contacts who provided that service, I might refer them.

If it was a long time client, I would help facilitate the solution to their problem. Sometimes that includes sub-contracting for services I don’t provide or are outside of my skill set. I don’t want them wandering out in the wild, contacting strangers they found on the internet. Quick way to lose clients.

I build that into the original quote and contract, and have separate line items for each facet of the services I provide (or sub-contract to provide): graphic design, photography, copy writing, meeting/consultation (in person or by phone), etc. From the beginning, there is no question about what gets billed. And consultation always gets billed, even on projects to don’t progress out of the planning phase. You have to teach your clients what your expectations are.

1 Like

That’s what I would do.


I’d talk with the client about the options, and work out the next steps with them.

In my experience, communication is often the solution.

©2019 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook