Thursday, June 18, 2009

My job is now keeping me awake at night

It's after 1am and I can't sleep because I'm so frustrated, bewildered and angry about a ridiculous thing that's going on at work. It's entirely caused by ignorance, at least it's not malicious or intentional, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm stuck with it.

OK, so let's try to sort this out. I've been asked to do a logo design for a housing development. Great, I love designing logos. They are the most challenging and rewarding task for a designer. Get the logo right and everything else becomes easy. The logo sets the type, colour and style basics for everything that follows - stationery, advertising, website, brochures - they are all so much simpler to design if you nail the logo first. You get to create a consistent look for the client that becomes recognisable in the marketplace, which helps everybody. It makes it easier for the client to reach the target audience for their product, it makes it easier for the audience to recognise the client's brand, it makes it easier for the designer to produce everything required because the logo sets the style for it all.

When a client comes in and says "I've got this new product, I'm going to need a brochure", the correct response is, "OK, we'll first need to sort out the logo then so we can get started on your brochure". Not, "OK we won't bother the designer with that yet, instead we'll have our production guy knock up a brochure layout and worry about things like the logo later".

If the client has, say, $5000 to spend on a logo, brochure and website, you allocate at least a few days worth of solid time, perhaps $1000, to producing logo options, refining and editing down to the final result until it's perfect. It makes sense because then the brochure and website will only take half the time to design because you already half know how they should look.

What you don't do is, again, get the production guy to produce a single brochure visual, with no logo, present that to the client and get their approval, do nothing for a week and then tell the designer he has to design the logo and the website in a single working day. That would be nuts, right?

That would mean that the logo now has to be something that will fit into this already approved brochure design, which makes the job both far more restricted in scope and therefore infinitely more difficult. And it means that this riddle has to be solved within a few hours, so it's never going to be anything special, or going to work as well as something that was designed solely for the purpose of representing the product. It has to be a compromise before it's even begun.

I'm sure you've guessed which route they've taken at work. I have 1 day to not only design this logo and the website, but also the website layout for another job as well. Obviously we're just not a company that rates quality of design very highly, which is a shame because, as a designer, I do.


  1. NatskiB9:25 am

    My advice, for what it's worth, is to sit down and explain why this wasn't a good way to work - like you have here. You're most certainly NOT being unreasonable about what you're asking - which is to have what you do for a living rated a bit higher than below a production guy.

    Seriously, ask for a meeting with the people involved and explain why this was a fuck up. It will at least give you a bit of satisfaction that you've said something, and MAYBE if you do it often enough something will sink in.

    Hell, even if it gets them to come and have a quick chat to you at the beginning of a project.

    And quite frankly, Derek, what sort of fucking housing development throws together a logo and doesn't have a proper marketing plan etc?! that's appalling to me!

  2. Sorted!

    I'd already voiced my opinion yesterday but had been largely ignored, so today I did it again, more vehemently and preceded by the words "I was up from 1 till 2 this morning writing a blog to the universe about how much you've pissed me off with your handling of this job because I was so angry I couldn't sleep!". That seemed to get their attention.

    So it was agreed that the website design should wait until the client has approved a logo, the brochure 'design' was deemed to be disposable and I was told to do nothing else all day but design the logo. Which I did. The other website design was put back to mid-next week and I made loud grrrrrry noises at anyone who tried to make me do anything else all day.


  3. That is good news. Make sure you just keep teling them though, not just grrrr-ing at them. Otherwise they'll just be scared of you, and won't approach you BEFORE they do another stupid thing like layout a brochure first!