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My company keeps requesting that the company name be in green (the brand color) every time it appears in a text block. This is jarring, disruptive and generally bad design but I am having a hard time convincing them. Does anyone have any rationale that I could use?

  • 4
    You have to communicate why it is bad design, not just lecture them. Bring up over-branding and readability. – KMSTR Oct 16 '15 at 10:22
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As KMSTR mentioned in the comment section, don't lecture your clients, show them why one option is better than the other.

Some clients pay for color and want color everywhere even though using some black/white or grayscale is way more elegant sometimes. Sometimes they just think of what they find nice, not what their target market might prefer. That's a mindset very hard to change if you only bring the artistic point of view.

The fact that you do design best and they do their own job best doesn't mean much to some clients. Not all clients fully trust the value of your judgement as designer and think they know better what their clients want; it could be true, it could be wrong. Some designers are indeed very bad at doing design for a certain type of market and push their own agenda into the mix.

With some clients, you need to focus on the practical and financial reasons why your ideas are better. Artistic taste are often judged as a matter of preference only and if you focus only on that aspect, you lose the power to convince the client in a rational way. Maybe your client is a "bigger, bolder, more colors, fill the white space" kind of client.

Some ways to "negotiate" on this:

  • Show examples of work done by big corporations that use the style you think is better for your client. You want your client to want to identify with the winners and you'll show them what winners do.
  • Prepare proofs with the logo style you prefer every time. This way they can see it in context. You can even prepare a proof that is totally different from what they're used to see and refresh the whole image. Sometimes it's necessary and they're happy for this even though they never ask for it. You can challenge to try your concept once; if they get good feedback, they'll trust your advice next time. Find a way to appeal to their ego. It works very well when their own clients send them a few "wow" feedback.
  • Show them technical reasons why it's bad practice. For example, printing a color on a black block can be printed with bad registration (eg. colors not aligned and there's a white space between the colors).
  • Find data about contrast, for example some colors are hard to see for people with vision issues.
  • If at any point there's a money factor (eg. expensive printing because of logo only), mention it.
  • If the logo needs to be photocopied, faxed or laser printed, show them examples of these results. Seeing is believing!
  • Finally, what works well too is to compromise somehow. Try to find out why they absolutely want to have their logo the way they do, there's real reasons they believe it's better than your suggestions. And find a way to implement their preferences and yours together. By doing this, you can slowly bring them to go your way as you produce more material for them and "acclimate" them to your concept slowly.

If nothing works, get used to it! You'll end up accepting the fact the client won't change his/her mind on this, and work around that challenge to make your layouts look beautiful even if that particular area doesn't seem to fit well. Some clients simply like it a certain way and you are the only one who knows if it's worth fighting for this or not.

Some designers will suggest you to fight your way through this to get your idea accepted because "you're the designer" but that largely depends on the budget of the project you work on. It might be true if you do flyers at $3000 but not so true for the $300 flyers! In that last case, you're paid to simply create a layout that will do what it's supposed to do, not for real marketing campaign and brand management. If your client wanted to give you total freedom and trust you in these aspects, they'd also pay the price for that kind of expertise. For low budget projects, you'll learn to let go a bit and work with the challenges, otherwise you're doing way more than what you're paid for.

One thing I believe is a good designer can go around any bad logo or concept and make it awesome; there's always limitation when you design and that's part of the challenges designers must deal with (unfortunately!) There's big corporations who have ugly logos/colors, yet we kind of forget about it because the logo ends up meaning more than what it graphically looks like and its their layout concepts that become the "superstars" of their brand.

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Part of protecting a brand identity is to know when to use it and when not to use it so that you aren't diluting it.

I'd suggest stating: In the middle of a paragraph of text is not the time to be using it. The priority for the customer is to be able to easily read the text. And anything that distracts from that customer's goal is going to be a bad experience for the user which, ultimately will reflect badly upon your brand. As such, insisting on using the brand identity within the body copy is actually leading to a poorer brand impression for the user.

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