Do You Use Previous Logo Design Concepts for New Clients?


An interesting subject for a post me thinks. Time after time, us logo designers come up with 100’s of ideas in the process of satisfying each client. We amass these unused concepts and use them and modify them for future projects.This post is more of a question but also an answer. It’s hypothetical, but not. I am also curious to know what you would do in this following situation?

The Situation

A client approaches you with a specific request, a particular design or concept that you know you already have in your library, what do you do?

2 Months Ago

So a bit more background. 2 months ago you were working on a project and in the process of this project you created several ideas. One idea in particular you really felt stood out, an idea that really demonstrated your abilities. However, the client picked another design, leaving this one to wilt in the darker regions of your project folder.

Not feeling too deflated, you realised that this design would perfectly suit another client, all you needed now was to stumble across this particular client. So you keep it in mind and get on with the rest of your life.

2 Months Pass

On the first day of the second month, you find an email from a potential new client. They briefly explain what they are looking for, show you a previous logo attempt from another designer and bells ring. Immediately you know you have the perfect solution. You have a design already completed from 2 months ago, with a few minor tweaks it would be perfect for this client. You knew in your heart that it would survive to battle another day, to satisfy a client and live a long prosperous life.

The Dilemma

Being the gentle conscientious designer you are, you now wonder how you can possibly swing this by the client, without making it look like you knocked it up in 5 seconds, yet charge your usual rate. After all, this is a great design. This idea took ages to do, ages to create in Illustrator, you are super proud of it and even fellow designers who saw it agreed, it’s a neat logo.

You want to show the client this idea, to convince them to sign you up as his logo designer. But as yet, the client is still not sure. He has several other designers to talk to. You know that if this client saw this idea, he would be gobsmacked. It fits perfectly with the brief and the conversations he has already had with you.

How Much

You keep the client hooked, treading carefully, not wanting to give your game plan away so early, especially without securing a deposit. But the client is still ‘not sure’. So here you have this perfectly crafted logo design, born from years of experience and skill with your mouse. You are itching to show it to them, to say “look, here it is. Don’t you see, this is perfect for you.”

But to do so means the client see into your soul. They would likely react by saying:  well, as you have already designed it, and this means you don’t need to spend any time on it, surely it would cost me next to nothing. It’s already done, already designed, the hard work you have done for another client. Surely I can just take it off your hands as is at a fraction of the cost of your usual project rates? I mean, you don;t need to spend any time researching my business, you don’t need to waste time trying different ideas, different concepts, buying new fonts etc. It’s here, it’s all done, perfectly formed just for me.

The Realisation and the Reality

You realise this response is not totally without foundation, but you also know this perfectly formed logo ‘did’ take you a long time. It was created from years of experience in the trade. When a client pays you, they are not just paying for the work you actually do, but they are paying for the skill and experience you have to do this job in the first place. Presumably why they approached you in the first place, they like your portfolio, they like your style, they like your reputation… all of which you have worked tirelessly to nurture, maintain and grow.

The Plan

The client wants to see this idea before committing, but to do so puts you in a vulnerable position. So you explain you need to secure the job, they must pay a deposit before anything happens. You don’t let on too much, you put your best poker face on. You look them in the eye and say, I am pretty confident that I can create the perfect logo for you. Give me the opportunity to work with you and you will see.

The Truth

After all, nothing is ever certain. This perfect logo created two months ago might not be that perfect fit you assumed it would be. It may need further tweaking and changes to satisfy this client. After all, surely by now we should have learn’t that we can never second guess the client.

But you have a solid starting point, you have saved some time on this project, but you have also given your best, just not in the same way you usually do. Charge the same you would do for any other project.

Regardless of how many previous ideas and concepts you can mash together, you are charging the client for ‘your’ experience, your skill and your creativity. How you come about the end result is for you to determine, no one else. So keep some things close to your skin.

Like a sculptor, a painter, a craftsman, a writer… any number of creatives will create work prior to it being sold. Sometimes they are commissioned to create a personal bespoke piece. Some logo concepts ‘can’ be reused, tweaked and perfected for a new client. On the flip side, some clients, some projects ‘do’ require work to be started from scratch, research, planning, development for a niché area perhaps. But even then, a prior unused concept could be suitable as a foundation or starting point.



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Written by: Graham Smith: The Logo Smith
1st Posted: 2009/10/29 & Post Updated: 2010/05/29
Filed In Categories: Brand Identity, Opinion, Portfolio

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