A few weeks ago I blogged about Deadlines Being Your Friend and I guess you could argue that I didn’t have anything else to write about this week, but you’d be wrong. I could write about how great it feels when a client finally selects a logo that they want to run with and they tell you to “GO” meaning roll out the rest of the identity package, pick out the fonts and start laying out the brand guidelines and the PowerPoint templates. It’s a great feeling no doubt when you have arrived at a logo decision, it feels like giving birth, but without all the physical pain, though there can be mental pain. It’s the AHA moment meets the AHHHH moment because you can move on from the ideation stage and if you’re really lucky, the logo is still in a good place where you still feel good about it too.
No, this week I want to talk about the inevitable and the classic situation when a client is telling you to rush, rush, rush only to have you wait, wait, wait. The fact is that deadlines are a huge part of the job. About a month ago, I met with a promising, young entrepreneur with a bright idea that he needed help bringing to life. We met in person, then we met with the team and in a very regimented and methodical fashion, we came to agreeable terms and began the design process. The project tasked us with designing a user interface for a new consumer-facing lead-generation website. The process is usually the same for UI design as it is for logo design in that Phase 1 consists of developing 3-5 concepts from which the client can choose from.
This particular client was so eager, and came with a great referral that we broke protocol and began the ideation stage even before the Scope of Work agreement arrived in our mailbox. This client was in such a rush that we literally had no time to waste. This client would send text messages to me directly and I would respond quickly as I wanted to set the impression that I knew that this project was hot, and that I knew that it was a priority. For a week straight we exchanged text messages and emails and I even received a 6am text message on a Monday morning to see what the status was. You can’t get more high pressure than a 6am Monday morning text message. Now, I don’t recommend that anyone respond to a client before 9am on a Monday because it sets a bad protocol. You don’t want to give clients that much access to you otherwise you won’t have a life. No, I waited until 9am to let the client know that we were on track to deliver as originally outlined in the production schedule we had agreed to. Typical turnaround for a first draft of anything, is 2 weeks. For this client, I had promised first draft designs within 1 week. I received this 6am Monday morning text message at the 5th day. We were WAYYY ahead of schedule here, but I exercised patience and promised him we’d have creative very soon. This is high pressure and we made a decision to deliver. As a creative, or as a business owner, you have to understand your clients. I began to give him updates proactively. Don’t wait until your ‘pushy’ client starts pinging you. Instead, ping them and let them know that you’re on top of things. Also, judge each client on a case by case basis. If you think this relationship has legs, or there may be more work down the pike, you may be extra patient.
In this case, we ended up delivering 3 distinct UI designs right on schedule. Even though I had tried to deliver early, our workload didn’t allow it. We did what we promised which is all you can ask for. Well guess what? That Rush, Rush, Rush became Wait, Wait, Wait. Its been 3 weeks since we delivered creative to the client and we have not received any feedback yet. And you know what? It’s totally fine. We delivered as promised and we delivered quality. We can’t control how soon or when the client will have feedback. The ball’s in their court, and we are ‘free to move about the cabin’ servicing our other clients who are in a Rush, Rush, Rush.
These days, who isn’t?
Ramon has over 19 years of experience in award-winning, market-proven, print collateral, marketing material, iphone/ipad app and website design specializing in corporate identity and branding. Ramon’s passion for entrepreneurial design was borne out of 10 years as Creative Director for Jay Walker at Walker Digital, the Stamford based idea laboratory and business incubator holding over 300 US Patents. Ramon served as Senior Art Director on the start-up launch team behind Priceline.com, a Walker company and invention. Most recently, Ramon's logo and identity work was selected to be published in "Typography and Enclosures" the fourth book in the Master Library series by LogoLounge.
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