I'm desperate for some advice and I'm not even sure this is the right place to ask, but here goes anyway :(:

In a nutshell:

  • Client wanted rebrand + style guide for labels to bring consistency to range.
  • Spoke about having templates so that their in-house designer can use template to change range name/title.
  • I created labels + guide, letting them know as templates are native an extra fee will be charged on top of design/dev fee.
  • Client now saying they would just like the style guide.

I know what they're probably going to do is use in-house designer to recreate design using the jpg mock and guide. I don't know whether the best thing to do is just send them the guide and invoice for design/dev + guide book. Trying to tread carefully as client is long-standing and one of the biggest paying.

  • 3
    A style guide's sole purpose is so that follow-on designers can "recreate" the style and brand. A working native template file is just a bonus. If you bill them for the time spent and any real expenses, you aren't really out anything. Or are you saying they don't want to pay for any logos etc. that came out of the rebranding?
    – Yorik
    Oct 5, 2016 at 16:16
  • So are you saying you made releasable templates before they agreed to do the work? Or would you have made them regardless? If the later what have you lost but chance to upsell your product?
    – joojaa
    Oct 5, 2016 at 18:27
  • @Yorik: They agreed before I started work. Just charging for design/dev + style guide means I lose money as they will recreate design on their end and reuse it over and over for future labels. Native file charge prevents this.
    – Qrious
    Oct 5, 2016 at 20:53
  • Just sounds like you are either conflating the design with the native files, which you admit are a separate line item, or you are expecting somehow to bill them per label in perpetuity.
    – Yorik
    Oct 5, 2016 at 21:40
  • @Yorik The design and native files are somewhat intertwined, as they need it to create labels with different product names on it etc. Prior to this I would create the labels for them and bill them per new label. Now they asked a rebrand + templates to have their in-house designer use, essentially cutting me out - which is fine. Issue here is that they now do not want the templates, just the guide (and will probably get their designer to try to recreate the labels I've designed). Hope that makes sense.
    – Qrious
    Oct 5, 2016 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


I feel your pain, been there. My advice, given that they are a long standing and high paying client, would be to proceed as follows:

  • Explain that you reduced the cost of the style guide because you were expecting to make money from the additional designs / artworks and imply that you were doing them a favour
  • Tell them that in this instance, you will only charge them the quoted price for the style guide even though they have cancelled the other work and make it clear that you are doing them another favour
  • Swallow the loss, add it to the experience pile, and hope that the favours you have done them get you some brownie points with your client
  • Next time you quote for a similar project have a base price for the style guide and then a discounted price if you also get a certain number of the roll outs to do, that way you've got a safety net

This kind of situation is always tricky and awkward, especially when you want to keep the client. All you can do is try and plug the loopholes in the future and hope that you can up-charge on the next job(s) to claw back some of the loss.

  • Thanks @Chris. I was thinking to hard-ball it and tell them that they can't recreate/edit design as I own rights, but instinctively I feel that it's probably too abrasive and not worth the trouble. I am still going to charge for the time spent designing along with guide. May just raise the flat fee a little to "compensate".
    – Qrious
    Oct 5, 2016 at 21:02

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