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The Client Project Budget: Just one of a few tricky, and challenging, aspects of being a self employed freelance logo designer.

Well OK.

It's not tricky if a potential new client appreciates and understands the value of good creative work, as well as the importance and value of a quality logo brand design, and provides you with a whopping budget that you could almost semi-retire on…

I'm specifically talking about receiving a new work Enquiry, from a potential new client.

For a brief moment you're really excited to get that new enquiry; it may have been a few weeks since the last one, and you're scratching in your pockets for all the loose change you have.

For the first few seconds of reading about this new potential logo design job, you're still excited; it sounds like a really cool and interesting job to design a logo for.

But then…

But then you see their allocated project budget, and a little bit of your soul and sense of self just melts away.

Worth mentioning: this doesn't automatically mean the client doesn't value good skill and workmanship; they could well have the greatest respect for your skill set, but not every client does have the funds that we'd ideally need to do the best possible work.

Then there is the flip-side: the client who expects the world for the smallest possible outlay.

What Do You Do?

So you could just bite the bullet, and do a Proposal for the amount the client has indicated.

You know it's worth more, but maybe things are really tight your end, and you're just thankful for ANY job at this moment in time.

Sure, you still take the job on, but are forever resentful of the client, and this can ooze itself out into the quality of work you do, and that's not always a great thing.

Worse still: you could just turn the project away because you don't feel happy about asking the client increase the project budget.

So is there a solution?

Freelancers: It's OK to Ask a Client for a Bigger Project Budget

It's absolutely OK to ask a client to raise the project budget if you feel that the brief warrants it, especially if you feel you could really enjoy the working on this logo.

In my experience: clients putting down inadequate budgets, for whatever the reason, is quite common.

I've now become accustomed to replying back to the client, with a counter offer on the table.

I don't like turning away any job, so I'll always now ask the client if they have the means and resources, in which to raise the budget.

I'll obviously explain my reasoning to them, so they at least know I'm just not trying to milk-it

It's really very important you can sincerely justify the extra cost to them, otherwise it's just not worth going down that road.

Give the client a Choice

Sometimes their specificed budget is kinda on the line. By that I mean: the budget they have specified is 'OK', but if you were able to have just a little bit more, it would mean you could spend that little bit more time, which you know would be of value to the design process.

Sure, you could do the job for this budget, and you'd be very happy to do so.

However, if they client was able to compromise somewhat, then it'd mean you could spend just that little bit more time: exploring other avenues, adding that final layer of polish, not rushing it, etc.

In these cases I give the client two Preliminary Proposals: the first one has the budget that they initially suggested; the second Proposal has the amount I feel would be a more overall reasonable price.

I don't always send the same worded email, but a recent email I sent went something like this:

 

Hello John
Firstly, thank you for reaching out to me and considering me for your logo design needs, much appreciated. Also, thank you for taking the time to fill in my brief, which I have attached for your records, along with the Preliminary Proposals.

So you’ll see that I’ve actually included two quotes: one for £850, and one that covers the £850 - £1500.
I’ll just quickly explain why:
For a project such as this, and with the information based in the brief, I’d usually be looking to budget closer to the £1000+ range.

When I read a brief, and I feel that raising the budget would be of value, then I do feel it is important to at least mention this to the client.

It’s not so much that I can’t do the project for what the client has indicated; it’s more that I could do a more thorough job if there was more time available to me, in order to do the best possible work for my client.

Unless there is some major discrepancy in the brief and a clients proposed budget, I always try to honour what the client has selected for their budget.

I will therefore very kindly ask: if you do have the means to move ‘upwards' in your initial budget range £550-£850, then it’d certainly be appreciated, and would certainly be beneficial to the project.

I of course understand that this is a big ask, so please be sure I’m not trying to do anything underhand.

I will stress that I am completely happy to do the project for the £850, should you not have the means to increase the budget—If I felt I could not do the project justice, for a certain amount, then I’d not take the project on—but allowing for more would give me the extra time investment I feel this project could certainly benefit from.
Please let me know your thoughts on the above, and If I can be of any further help at this initial early stage, please do not hesitate to shout.

Look forward to hearing from you soon,
Kind Regards
Graham Smith

 

In my experience, the client has nearly always been very happy to increase the project budget, if they are in a position to do so.

This not only makes the project more attractive, it also helps establish some honesty and openness with the client, which I feel is really important.

It's the way you ask

Obviously, this only really works if you ask nicely, and justify the rationale behind the request.

It's important to ensure the client doesn't feel they are being 'coerced' into raising their budget, but that they full understand the value and positive reasoning behind paying more for your creative services.

If you ask nicely, then you really have nothing to lose. I don't think a client would ever begrudge a designer from being open and honest, especially if you provide them with options.

If you have any questions on the above, then please feel free to leave them in comments below.




Logo Designers: Don't Promise Deadlines

As a graphic designer, I'm sometimes asked to 'promise' an urgent deadline as well as providing a logo design the client loves: Don't Promise Deadlines.

Somethings one can promise; other things, however, would be foolish and irresponsible to promise.

When a client asks me to promise, guarantee, or even stipulate in the contract, that the project will be completed by a certain date, I absolutely refuse to make this promise. Not because I'm being awkward; because I simply cannot keep that promise.

As a Graphic Designer, what shouldn't I Promise a Client?

So this is easy: don't ever promise a client that you can 'finish' a logo design project by a certain date.

If a client is really pressing you hard to commit to a deadline, you still need to try and avoid getting tied up with promises that are almost impossible to keep, or certainly guarantee.

But Why Can't I Promise This?

There are various reasons that make it almost impossible for a graphic designer to promise, and guarantee, that they'll have a logo design, that the client likes, by a fixed date. Even more so if the schedule is urgent, or needed in weeks, rather than months.

The main reason, that's beyond a graphic designers control? You can't usually foresee, with absolute certainty, which idea a client will really like.

So if you can't know when/if a client will like any submitted ideas, how can you then guarantee that you'll come up with something they'll like by a promised deadline?

What Can I Promise then?

You can promise that you'll have either a set number of logo design ideas, or a at least a few by a certain date. This is much more realistic, and is certainly something you can promise.

I'll promise a client, without any doubt, that I'll have at least one idea, and likely a few ideas, by the clients deadline.

What you can't promise, off the back of this, is that the client will like any one of those designs. 

I'll make it abundantly clear that: my promise of delivering logo design ideas by a deadline, isn't the same as: promising the project will be completed by that deadline.

I'll also make it very clear that: I'll obviously try my very best to meet any suggested deadlines, but the client must be aware that the project could well run past their ideal deadline, and to make accommodations for that.

The shorter those deadlines are, the less likely the design will be as well researched and thought out, as one that doesn't have restrictive deadlines.

Keep it Real

When all is said and done, we graphic designers are mostly not miracle workers, when it comes down to the VERY subjective nature of graphic design.

We cannot usually predict how a client will react to any presented design, and we certainly shouldn't make promises that we simply cannot keep, even if we really feel we are the best logo designer in the world.

Remember: By all means promise a client you'll have x-amount of ideas by a deadline, but you cannot promise that within this initial bunch of ideas, will be one the client likes.

Don't Promise Deadlines: It's just not a wise, or appropriate thing to promise.

The very least you'll have some constructive feedback to work off, and hopefully you'll have narrowed down the creative directions that you can take. Once the client sees you are working, and delivering evolving ideas, this is usually enough for the client to ease of the gas pedal, and give you the time you need.




During 2015 I experienced three unfortunate situations of unscrupulous clients trying to pull a fast one on me: Specifically, filing a 'Item not Received' dispute with PayPal.

This was after I had showed the client a number of logo design ideas, and had obviously spent my valuable time on their project: close to three weeks.

It is clear to me now, that some people do believe that they can get free logo designs if they pay using PayPal; once they have seen the ideas, can then file an 'Item not Received' dispute, with the goal of getting a full refund.

Leaving you, the graphic designer, very much out of pocket.

The immediate result of a client filing 'Item no Received' Dispute is that the amount the client paid you will be taken out of your PayPal account, and help by PayPal as the dispute is investigated.

This can lead to all sort of financial complications depending on how much the dispute is for, if you rely on eBay to sell goods, and just general stress and anxiety.

Using PayPal to Receive Client Payments

Using PayPal to received client payments for graphic design services has started to become synonymous with being a quick way to being ripped off.

Fortunately, from my past experiences, I can tell you there is a way for graphic and logo designers to actually prevent PayPal from siding with the client in such disputes.

Tangible and Intangible services/products

There is one major thing you must do in order to protect yourself , and to ensure that even if a client does decided to file this dispute, than you'll ultimately end up with PayPal siding with you, leaving the client very much red-faced.

First, just a little clarification on what PayPal calls 'Tangible & Intangible' services and products.

The client is paying you for a creative service, that is mostly based on: subjectivity and uncertain timelines for project completion.

You can't really define, or even promise to a client, the exact 'look' of the design at the start of a project, neither can you really be 100% sure that you'll come up with that winning idea by a certain date. (You might be able to say you'll have an idea by a date, but you can't control if the client will like it, and if they don't, then this will add more time to the project.)

You're rarely be able to post, and prove a confirmation of posting/delivery of said logo design, simply due to having nothing to actually post (unless you print out copies of the designs, and post these etc).

You are providing, and selling, a creative service that cannot be filed under the same as, say: selling digital downloads of a book; prints, artwork, photography, paintings etc.

In these cases there is a clear 'item for sale', and if the seller doesn't deliver, then the buyer can rightfully make an 'Item not Received' dispute.

This is where a lot of people get confused with PayPal, and what is covered under their Seller and Buyer protection schemes.

It used to be that most 'services' with Intangible services/products were simply not covered by PayPal's Buyer Protection schemes, but recently PayPal has tightened up on this.  Cageapp Features

How Does a Graphic Designer Avoid Losing a PayPal Dispute?

However, as I have experienced myself, you are still protected IF you ensure you do one important thing.

Think a long the lines of 'proof of delivery', but in a digital sense. It's more of a 'proof of having SEEN the work you have done', than receiving something in the post.

We're not talking about printing out sheets of the final logo design, and posting them to the client; we're talking about proving that you've done 'x-amount' of work so far, and that the client has seen, or better yet, actually commented on this work somehow.

This is what PayPal deems as you having fulfilled the Service the client has paid you for, or are continuing to full fill the service if you're mid way through a project. Especially if the client has given notice of 'approving' any work done thus far!

Cageapp Features

Submit Proof to PayPal

So how do you get to prove to PayPal (because YOU will need to prove and submit proof) that your client has seen various logo design updates, and even better, has maybe commented their views and feedback to you? 

What saved me in my last torturous experience, was having used the handy Cageapp to upload my various: ideas, sketches, type selections, along with comments explaining any reasoning and other useful comments for the client.

What this meant was that the client HAD received, AND had acknowledged receipt of my work thus far. 

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.21.14

I was able to instantly see when the client had logged into Cageapp to firstly view the various logo ideas, but critically, she left VERY positive feedback for me on these first designs.

Two days later this client filed for a full refund of £1000, claiming she had not received the work she had paid me for.

After PayPal put my account on hold and took the £1000 from my account, I was eventually able to submit unquestionable proof that the client HAD in fact not just received the start of the ideas, but had also expressed very positive feedback. 

This client ultimately didn't have a leg to stand on, because I had digital proof, in the form of screenshots etc, that I was indeed doing what she had paid me for.

PayPal had no choice but to file in my favour. 

Cageapp Features

Keep Track of Client Feedback/Revisions

That is really the most important bit of advice I can give any graphic designer, who still needs to use PayPal when accepting client payments.

I was thinking about other ways one can prove to PayPal that a client has acknowledged your work so far, has left comments on ideas and concepts, which ultimately means 'Proof of Delivery'.

There are many other project workflow applications and services out there, BaseCamp is probably one of the most well-know and has been around for a long time.

If cash is a problem, and you need to find a way that doesn't involve subscriptions, then I think there are a few methods available:

FaceBookYou could set up a Facebook album with privacy set to just the client, then upload images of your progress so far, and request the client leaves comments each time.This acts a bit like Cageapp, in that you are creating a digital finger print showing that the client has indeed seen (received) your work.

Flickr (any photo service really that allows comments etc) — Much like Facebook really: create private albums for each client, and ask them to leave comments and feedback exactly like Facebook.

It's just about finding a way that allows for you and a client to digitally leave comments and feedback, and FaceBook and Flickr are two that come to mind.

The one downside is that the client 'could' remove/delete their comments if they were that keen to get a refund, so it'd be important to keep screenshots each time.

This is where a great service and application like Cageapp comes into it's own, because it's designed to be easy to use, but to also protect your best interests.

Conclusion

I've said it already, but I'll say it again. If you are using PayPal to accept client payments, then in order to protect yourself from being 'conned', please please ensure that you keep good track of each clients' interaction with your ideas.

If you can't prove to PayPal that your client has seen work you were paid to do, then you'll find it pretty hard to win an 'Item not Received' dispute.

It's not impossible, as long as you are prepared to search through emails, texts, IM's etc to find any proof that the client has 'seen' work you have done for them!

It's certainly a shame that 'we' have to take such precautions, but it's best to be overly cautious in these situations.

But also, it's just good project management to have a process in place that tracks your work, your ideas, your massive list of To-do's as well as general interactions with your client etc. :)

Cageapp Features




If you have a logo design problem

Logo Design Advice from The Logo Smith [AQfG]

"A Question for Grahamis a Logo Design Advice & Help feature that is focused on providing help for any: logo & brand identity; freelancing; graphic design; marketing & advertising, questions you might have. You might have a problem that you could do with sharing, or simply need some advice.

I get a fair number of emails each week, with questions about one aspect, or another, relating to freelancing as a logo and graphic designer. Due to work commitments etc, I have often struggled to even send back a basic reply in some cases.

A Question for Graham [AQfG] is a way for me to create some form, structure and usefulness out of this particular aspect of my day.

Answers Turned to Blog Posts

If you ask me a question, and I feel it's also a question that other people would find the answer of use, I will write the answer as a regular blog post. The idea is that you get your answer in a format that is useful as well as providing me a platform to share the answer with everyone else.

I can't promise that all questions asked will be replied in this format as this comes down to both my own time as well as relevancy, but also if the question is something a reasonable blog post can be created from.

Here are a few questions already answered: A Question for Graham

Have a Question?

If you have any kind of question relating to: logo and brand identity, freelancing, accounts, client woes etc, then please feel free to email me at: [email protected] or visit my contact page and use the form.

I will reply to all questions so you will know promptly if a blog post will be in the works or not. If the latter then I still may answer in a personal email if time permits.

Please ensure you add "I have a question for Graham" in the email Subject field.




I received this question, as part of my A Question for Graham the other day, and although it: Logo Design Naming, Copyright and Ownership Problems, sounds, at least on the surface, reasonably straightforward, there are some possible hidden dangers, complications etc. I don't have an awful lot to go on, so my responses are little bit of advice, or general insights, and should definitely not be taken as legally sound, as I am not a lawyer.

All I can do is answer based on the information I have, and hopefully, at the very least, provide some useful insight and suggestions to take the issue forward:

"I designed for a client. The client is a good friend of mine and I did a logo for free for her. I also named the company. Friend's partner, who I don't know, registered the corporate name and purchased the website with the name but failed to register the logo. The partnership is now breaking up and I want my friend to be able to use the logo and name in her new venture.

What's you opinion?"

Right then. First things first. You maintain full rights and ownership over the logo design until you say otherwise, and you can transfer that to whoever you want. The name, however, looks like it’s been taken off-your hands, and now registered by this 'partner'. As you probably had no agreement in place, pretty sure there is not much you can do with getting the name back, but your friend (for what it’s worth), is free to use your logo design.

One solution then is to cut your losses with the name you came up with, and try come up with a different name. You may want to word it so it works with your logo design, or at the very least, adjust the logo to work with a new name. Then you can make a clean break from this other ‘partner’, and have no risk of treading on each others toes.

This is important: You, or your friend, must make sure that this ‘partner’ is fully aware they cannot use your logo design without your express permission, and have a written transfer of ownership from you. If they are using it, then you’ll need to find a way to explain to them that the logo you created does not belong to them, and they are certainly not permitted to use it in any form.

Hopefully, you have some form of correspondence between you and your friend that shows the 'paper trail' regarding the intended use and purpose of both the name and logo design.

This should also then make it quite clear that this 'partner' wasn't part of this arrangement, and they cannot effectively argue that it belongs to them, more so if they have no proof that the ownership of the rights etc, having been transferred from you to this partner, as well as any money exchanging hands.

Trademarking a Design that Is Not Yours

There is one tricky scenario that comes to mind: if this 'partner' has managed to register the logo design, or part of it, as a Trademark/Registered Trademark, then this could be a whole different problem for you/your friend. Something I can't really advise on, as this really needs to become a legal matter.

Technically, I believe, you still own the logo, so you'd need to contact this 'partner', and carefully explain they have in fact registered a design that they had no rights to register, mostly because it's not theirs to register. If this 'partner' is reasonable, then hopefully you can come to some sort of financial solution, but this would probably mean you no longer have a name, OR a logo design.

However, not so good for your friend.

If they are not so reasonable, then you still need to start creating a digital 'paper trail' of correspondence, at the very least, showing you have made attempts to explain to this 'partner' that they are using a logo design that does not belong to them.

You can ask them to provide proof of hiring you to design them a logo, proof that they paid for it, proof that you signed over your Ownership of the design to them, all of which they won't be able to do. Maybe, just maybe, once that realisation hits them, you might be able to negotiation some form of financial compromise/settlement.




Logo Design Naming Copyright Ownership Problems

I received this question, as part of my A Question for Graham the other day: Logo Design Naming, Copyright Ownership Problems.,

It sounds, at least on the surface, reasonably straightforward, there are some possible hidden dangers, complications etc.

I don't have an awful lot to go on, so my responses are little bit of advice, or general insights, and should definitely not be taken as legally sound, as I am not a lawyer.

All I can do is answer based on the information I have, and hopefully, at the very least, provide some useful insight and suggestions to take the issue forward:

"I designed for a client. The client is a good friend of mine and I did a logo for free for her. I also named the company. Friend's partner, who I don't know, registered the corporate name and purchased the website with the name but failed to register the logo. The partnership is now breaking up and I want my friend to be able to use the logo and name in her new venture.

What's you opinion?"

Right then. First things first. You maintain full rights and ownership over the logo design until you say otherwise, and you can transfer that to whoever you want.

The name, however, looks like it’s been taken off-your hands, and now registered by this 'partner'.

As you probably had no agreement in place, pretty sure there is not much you can do with getting the name back, but your friend (for what it’s worth), is free to use your logo design.

One solution then is to cut your losses with the name you came up with, and try come up with a different name.

You may want to word it so it works with your logo design, or at the very least, adjust the logo to work with a new name. Then you can make a clean break from this other ‘partner’, and have no risk of treading on each others toes.

This is important: You, or your friend, must make sure that this ‘partner’ is fully aware they cannot use your logo design without your express permission, and have a written transfer of ownership from you.

If they are using it, then you’ll need to find a way to explain to them that the logo you created does not belong to them, and they are certainly not permitted to use it in any form.

Hopefully, you have some form of correspondence between you and your friend that shows the 'paper trail' regarding the intended use and purpose of both the name and logo design.

This should also then make it quite clear that this 'partner' wasn't part of this arrangement, and they cannot effectively argue that it belongs to them, more so if they have no proof that the ownership of the rights etc, having been transferred from you to this partner, as well as any money exchanging hands.

Trademarking a Design that Is Not Yours

There is one tricky scenario that comes to mind: if this 'partner' has managed to register the logo design, or part of it, as a Trademark/Registered Trademark, then this could be a whole different problem for you/your friend. Something I can't really advise on, as this really needs to become a legal matter.

Technically, I believe, you still own the logo, so you'd need to contact this 'partner', and carefully explain they have in fact registered a design that they had no rights to register, mostly because it's not theirs to register.

If this 'partner' is reasonable, then hopefully you can come to some sort of financial solution, but this would probably mean you no longer have a name, OR a logo design.

However, not so good for your friend.

If they are not so reasonable, then you still need to start creating a digital 'paper trail' of correspondence, at the very least, showing you have made attempts to explain to this 'partner' that they are using a logo design that does not belong to them.

You can ask them to provide proof of hiring you to design them a logo, proof that they paid for it, proof that you signed over your Copyright Ownership of the design to them, all of which they won't be able to do.

Maybe, just maybe, once that realisation hits them, you might be able to negotiation some form of financial compromise/settlement.




A-Brief-Summary-on-Font-Licensing

When I saw that Tweet in my Twitter timeline I rattled off half-a-dozen or so replies, and realised it would probably be somewhat more practical, and useful, to summarise them in a post. Here is that post: a quick run through of the main do's and don'ts with the subject of Font Licensing, commercial use, legal and moral right's and wrong's.

It's not a comprehensive list, but should certainly deal with the main legal issues to stop you inadvertently breaking a font licensing agreement. Feel free to ask me any questions, or general follow-up on Font Licensing, over on my Google+ thread for this post: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GrahamSmith/posts/hrJty1PALAW

For the most part, the main gist of font licensing pretty straightforward, but I think a number of people assume that font licensing is somewhat of a minefield. I'll start with a summarised conclusion first, which ought to set you the right course.

The Quick Explain

Simply put: it is safer to consider any font, any typeface family, that you purchase, will have licensing restrictions when it comes to commercial applications. That is to say, if you buy a commercial font, and use it in a logo design for a client, you have taken the 1st step to moral and legal safe ground.

However, if you borrow a font/typeface, and use it in a commercial sense, for you or for a client, then you are almost certainly breaking the law. That the former is bad, and the latter is good. Buy is good, borrow is bad. OK?

Now please do remember: Each font foundry, each typeface designer, will have their own unique licensing arrangements that come with their fonts and typeface families (form hereon-in, I'll refer to both fonts and typefaces as fonts), and so nothing should be presumed/assumed about it's use. When it comes to small-print, reading a commercial font licence ought to be a priority, and certainly not passed over.

What is a Licence?

The purchase of a commercial font/typeface basically gives you, the buyer, a certain right/freedom to use it as you see fit, for both commercial and non-commercial works.

Again with the variety: some fonts come with 1 licence, some come with 1-5 Licences. A font that comes with 1 Licence basically means you can only install the font on one of your own computers.

A font that comes with a 1-5 licence means you can safely install the font on up to 5 of your own computers, but no more. If you have 7 computers, and you need the font on all 7, then you ought to buy another instance of the font, giving you freedom to install the font on up to 10 computers.

Using Myfonts to buy fonts

Font Licensing from Myfonts

As the image shows above, my recent purchase of Alright, by K-Type, allows me to install the font on 'up to 5 computers/users'. Here is their official, but brief, Font Licence text:

K-Type Standard License: Purchasing a K-Type font grants you non-exclusive rights to use the font commercially on paper, on film, online and embedded in documents. The software may be stored on up to five workstations and output devices. You cannot legally give the font to others or install it on their machines (with the exception of co-workers and your service bureau).

Myfonts makes font purchasing, licensing and to whom it should be licensed to, very easy and clear to understand.

Font Usage in a Logo Design

Myfonts also addressed the specific topic of font licensing and usage within a logo in a post: [Font] Usage in a logo which is definitely worth a read.

Font Licence and Registration

During the checkout process for Alright, you can see in Step 2 (above), one has the opportunity to specify to whom the font will actually be licensed to. So even someone else might have kindly purchased the font for me, they have registered the licence of the font also to me, thus removing them from any legal implications arising out of me copying and distributing the font! Very bad.

Contrary to what some people would like to believe, the licence is unique to you, and does not then mean you can give that font to up to 4 of your mates, or clients. This is quite a common misconception, and I think this is where confusion over font licensing exists.

Font Licensing for Designer and Client

This is where font licensing can get a little tricker to get, so here are a few typical scenarios to get your head around.

Scenario One: Designer and Client

Let's suppose you are designing a logo for a client who will be using the logo for commercial gain. As the designer, you have no intention to ever use that font again, and basically will forget it ever existed.

— In this example the font licence is needed by just one person, ideally registering the client as the owner of the font. You the designer can buy the font, but ideally need to register the licence to the client. But remember, this effectively means as the designer you would be breaking the licensing agreement if you decided to use the font again for another client, and could in all likely hood actually get your first client in trouble, as they are now responsible for that particular font's licensing. This is a good scenario to avoid.

This means the client who purchased and registered the font licence in their name, can use the font for internal and external use, and is useful/required if they decide to use the font as a key part of their brand identity.

*The previously mentioned limitations on how many computers the font can be installed on holds true for whoever buys and licences the font. So, if you, the designer, buy and register a font for your client as part of your project/client service, you must ensure the client understand they can only install that font on however many computers the licence is valid for.

*If the client subsequently lends the font to other people, who also lend it further down the line to be used commercially, then pretty much everyone associated with the font is doing bad, and are all equally liable.

Scenario Two: Designer and Client

Again you are designing a logo for a client who will be using it in a commercial way. As the designer, you love this font so much, that you anticipate wanting to use the font for further projects down the line for other commercial applications.

— This example basically means you need to buy at least two individual instances of the font, and it's licence. This will allow both the client and designer to install the font on their respective computers, and safely use the font as per the licence description. 

*The same warnings with the asterisk above hold true, but also some more below.

*However, and additionally, if sometime down the line you end up using this same font for another client, then you'll need to ensure this new client also buys the font, and understands the licence restrictions in it's use, etc etc.

Buying the font once, does not give you free reign to use the font for any number of other people for ever and ever. Each time you use a commercial font in a design for a client, and that design will be used in some commercial sense by someone other than you, you need to assess how the licence might come into question.

Who Should Buy/Licence a Font for a Client?

There are risks with buying a font for someone else, as you are the one ultimately responsible for any wrong doing accidentally/purposefully made by your client.

This isn't to say you shouldn't arrange the purchase of the font for your client, but do then ensure that the font purchase, and it's licence, are correctly registered to your client (assuming you have no plans to use the font yourself as above). I have purchased a number of commercial fonts on my clients behalf, and also suggested in some cases that the client actually buys and registers the licence themselves.

If you just want an easy life, then simply ask the client to buy and licence the font themselves. Easy.

If you have purchased a font licence for your client, then it's crucially important that your client understands the limitations, and it's accepted use, when it comes to their new font.

Free Fonts & Restrictive Font Licensing

Somewhat confusingly, free fonts for download can come with quite restrictive font licence, and other free fonts are complete with zero-free restrictions.

Do not assume just because a designer has generously made the font for free, that it's also then permissible for you to use the font in a commercial sense.

Oftentimes, if you read the licence, you'll notice that this particular free font CAN be freely used in private works, but CANNOT be used in commercial works, except with express permission from the designer.

So for peace of mind, it's certainly worth reading a free fonts licence, and if you like it so much that it needs to be used for a client logo design, then do the decent thing and ask the fonts designer for permission first.

Conclusion

As you can see, the subject of font licensing can get a little murkey if you are not simply fully aware of how font licensing works on it's simplest level. It's just safer to assume that font licensing needs to be acknowledged, and that it needs to be checked each time you use a commercial font for commercial use. If you do that then you ought not go wrong.

Remember to share the font licensing information and limitations with any client, friend, work colleague who might also be using the font, regardless if the end use is private work, or some form of commercial use.

Font and typeface design is a highly skilled, and very technically creative art. These mastercraftspeople toil for months and months, on glyph after glyph, really do deserve recognition and respect.

Buying the font is just one part of your commitment to their work you are buying. Using the font as per their licence is just as important, if not more so, then buying it.

Et Cetera

Worth mentioning is this often discussed question, "If a client has purchased the font that I'll be using to create the logo, but I myself [the designer] will not be using that font past this project, am I able to use/install that font for the creation of the logo without a licence? Or do I still need to buy the font, and it's licence, even though I have absolutely no plans to use it past this current job?"

I have heard, by various font foundries, type designers etc, that they understand the somewhat unpractical expectation of forcing a designer to buy a font for a short period of time needed to create their masterpiece. The problem with this sort of 'leniency' is that once you install a font, given/lent to you by someone else, is how often then that font is removed, and never used again. Herein lies the bigger problem with font piracy/using without a valid licence… and probably needs a much longer post/discussion to get to the bottom of. Although I doubt there is such a bottom.

In all these cases, the unwritten rule/understanding is that it's sort of OK to use/install a font that doesn't belong to you: as long as it's for a legitimate temporary period. *I'm absolutely not saying that this holds true for evert type designer and foundry, but I think it's certainly reasonable to assume that this is a reasonable exception to the font licensing rule. But as with a lot of things, don't count on that being a commercial default.




Asking Clients for Full Payment Upfront [AQfG]

As part of my A Question for Graham series [AQfG], Chris from PixelHatch, emailed me a follow-up question with regards to an earlier post of mine on the topic of asking clients for the full payment upfront, opposed to the more usual deposit/balance format.

"I read your blog post on charging 100% up front and this is something I'd like to do in the future. In my mind it doesn't make any sense to work on a deposit since it's always possible for the client to just not pay you at the end and there's not really much you can do about it.  

My only concern is that because the idea of a deposit and payment on completion is so accepted in the industry I'm scared of putting clients off. Do you have a particular way that you explain this to new clients without scaring them away? Would be very grateful for any advice."

There's no denying that asking for full payment upfront for a logo design, or any graphic design for that matter, often has this perception of being a rather 'cheeky, and/or taking the piss' method of cash collection. Alternatively, when asking for full payment is not appropriate, I tend to stick with my Deposit & Progress Payment Strategy.

I can only really go on my own personal experience of charging the full whack up front, and hope that this might offer up something useful for other designers who feel this is worth considering.

For context, in my early days, I was simply ripped off too many times by clients not paying the final invoice after I had delivered my end of the deal. A lot of that was a result my own inexperience of being self-employed, but also I had a tendency to over-trust people. What a personal failing, I know…

I tried, over a few years, various methods to protect myself against non-paying clients, but it's simply impossible to do 100% of the time due to the sheer vulnerability of 'putting your idea out there' before securing some, or all of your money. Once you show that logo design idea it simply leaves each and every one of us super vulnerable to being cast aside.

On one hand: some clients feel untrusting towards a designer to pay the full amount upfront (even a heft deposit!), and equally a designer may be untrusting of a client to pay the final balance when it is due.

Where is the trust

My feeling is that if a client approaches you to do them a logo design, then it's simply up to them to find the trust to place in you, not the other way around. Maybe you have a great portfolio, loads of testimonials, a regular and transparent social networking presence, various communication methods etc: all of these things ought to provide comfort to a possible client. If they still have trust issues that you will not deliver, then I wouldn't personally want to work with them in the first place.

Assuming that both parties have done their due diligence with each other: client checking out the designer, and the designer asking the right questions and providing adequate information, then there should be no reason why a client will not consider paying the full amount up front. Other than the obvious: not having that sort of cash laying around, but if that's the case who's to say they will have it 4-8 weeks down the line? If they don't have it all now, who's to say they'll have it a few weeks later, and I do think many clients end up in this problem of hiring a logo designer, paying the deposit but simply unable. or unwilling, to then pay the rest.

Just look at how our society ends up in constant debt by buying things they can't afford with credit and overdrafts, all the time having the noble awareness and intent of settling that debt at the end of the month. If some of us struggle to pay off that card for a new car we have just purchased, then I also slightly worry about the importance placed on paying up for a logo design once it's been done. After all, once it's been done, the designer has shown it to you, the novelty sort of wears off, and you are then faced with the reality of forking up more money. OK, so that's a somewhat cynical view, but it's also not really all that far from reality.

As a materialistic society, once we have what we want and have not yet fully paid for it, then trouble is just around the corner when we are faced with that final invoice/credit card statement etc. I have seen this, been a victim of clients simply not having the funds when the time came, and I just got royally brassed off about it.

Hence the full payment up-front seems to actually prevent more problems than more common methods.

Clients DO like paying all up front

And, do you know what? Since I offered this on my initial proposals easily over 80% of all my past clients have offered to pay the full amount, rather than the traditional 2-part deposit/balance approach. Oftentimes we are talking about a client finding, and happily paying between £1000-£8000 before they have even talked to me on the phone!

Now that is what reinvigorated my sense of trust in people. I have been continually bowled over by the continued, and seemingly lack of distrust, that all my past clients have exhibited towards me. So, if I have worked with clients that have, historically, shown no apprehension whatsoever to pay the full amount up front then it surely shouldn't be such a taboo subject to raise?

Just want to make it clear that I don't DEMAND full payment, although I did go through a period of a few months when this was the case. I provide two options of payment, but with a nice little incentive for a client to pay the full amount. Don't underestimate the hassle some larger companies have when it comes to paying, or having to arrange with their finance department, their own invoices etc. It's been explained to me by more than one client that it was simply case of, paying the full amount up front that is, being easier to arrange than two staggered payments. Plus, of course, they go get a genuine reduction, which the bigger the budget, the more it makes sense.

Advice

So my main chunk of advice, if you are worried about asking clients to pay all up front, especially if the project is going to take a few months, then at least offer both options. When doing so provide ample reasons and incentives for them to pay the full amount up front, but don't box them into a corner.

Once you get your first client accepting full payment, then you'll find more confidence to ask the next time round and so on and so on, which was pretty much the case for me. I certainly did feel cheeky asking for the full amount the first few times, but once the first few clients happily obliged, it became routine.

The other way to try is to simply have a FAQ page that gives fair warning to a client about your payment options before they might even get in contact. They are not forced into using you, or accepting your terms, but they are your terms and your business, and if they want you as a designer then they'll need to seriously think about trusting you. It's mostly as simple at that.

Sometimes my gut tells my I need to tread cautiously with a particular client, so in these cases I might just offer up the Full Payment Upfront, and no 2-part option. Obviously always a risk they'll move on and find another client, but I've learnt to trust my gut and also not sweat it if a client gets narky about your payment options.

I probably have three or so proposal templates, and tailor each one depending on the vibes I get back from the potential client, as well as taking into consideration the budget, scope and length of time I expect to be on it. If it's going to be closer to two months on one logo design project, then I'll make sure I'll either get the full payment up front, or at least ensure I have a staggered Progress Payment in play.

My current proposal layout

I'm continually changing the layouts of my proposals, but the current version shows you how I typically will present the full payment option to the client. You can see that I first offer up the total cost, in this case £3800. Then I choose to provide a standard 2-part Deposit and Balance method with the Full Payment option underneath with a nice little discount as an incentive.

Screenshot 2014-01-02 13.43.48





I certainly understand that choosing the right font for a logo design can seem to some clients to be a complete mystery that will get them so worked up that they refuse to want anything to do with it.

I guess with some clients that might be a good idea, but there are certainly some clients that might be better at selecting a font than they themselves realise.

I'm not necessarily talking about giving a client a 'blank sheet' and expect them to do your job for you, neither am I suggesting you SHOULD always give your client a choice, but there is place and time during the course a logo design where a clients input might make the client feel more part of the design process.

I know it might seem obvious to some of you, but I do know some designers who refuse to allow their clients any where near making a font choice because said designer has already got the final design signed-off in their head, even if the client doesn't know it yet.

So I thought I would just scribble a few words about this important part of the logo design process.

I often find myself asking the client to choose from a selection of fonts that I have carefully and thoughtfully sifted though, often after days of searching and scanning 100's and 100's of options.

Yet when I present this carefully curated list of font options the client can often remark, "I don't know what I'm looking at because I know very little about fonts." This is a honest response, but I also then feel that a client can make the idea of choosing a font to be so hideously difficult that they simply shut-down at the very idea of being asked to make a choice.

Font Choices

It's important to explain to the client that you would not allow them to make a drastically bad decision, or choose a font that technically or aesthetically is totally inappropriate, but at the same time giving them some confidence to take part in the evolution of their logo.

If you don't make it clear that you are the font 'gate' keeper, then they might reasonable presume they could choose completely the wrong font which is where the anxiety usually comes from.

Often at this point in a logo projects evolution, the logo mark has been signed off, the general style of the font has also been approved: say a strong serif font (see above for Viva Chocolat: I used this selection as the final selection for the client to choose from, but I did thrown in a wild card).

You've found a selection of approximately 12 serif fonts that you feel would work, but now would like the client to see if there is one from this 'final' selection that they like.

It's not them choosing life or death here, it's giving them the opportunity to make a style choice that's not going to break a logo into a million pieces.

I might say to them that it''s more about looking at a font style as a form of dress or suit: does it fit the body shape well, is it styled in a manor that is pleasing to you, and overall does it look appropriate to represent your brand.

One will know if a suit or dress is inappropriate for a certain event, we even know what's acceptable for just going down the pub on a Friday. That decision would be much much easier then if you had your partner pick out 6 suits/dresses for you, and asked you to choose one knowing that all 6 would be suitable.

All you need to do now is not worry about picking a suit that is going to be a disaster because you trust your partner to know exactly what is appropriate, so you can now breathe a little easier knowing that you can now choose one that best reflects the look you want to give.

The client needs to know that you have carefully selected a range of fonts that any one of would work, but one will, or could be, more preferable to the client even for a reason they might not understand.

Simply might just be a gut feeling, or something else as to what font they choose.

Asking a client to choose a font doesn't need to be a massively anxiety filled decision, or even one that is technically or right or wrong.

You can also encourage them to try and give 'simple' reasons for any choice they make as they might surprise themselves, and you for that matter, by actually coming up with something that is valid and appropriate.

"Ultimately I wouldn't let you choose a font that was totally wrong, inappropriate in any way!"*

*Although there are cases where a client will insist of a font choice that is a complete disaster even after your passionate pleas to listen to reason. Sometimes you simply can't get through and have experienced reason taken seriously.

Graham Smith

Ask Graham a Question on Logo & Brand Identity [AQFG]

If you have a question or issue that you need a hand with then please take a look at this post: http://imjustcreative.com/ask-graham-a-question-on-logo-brand-identity and feel free to whip me a line.

I'll try my best to address it in a unique blog post so that you and others can hopefully get some use from it.