Hi everyone, looking for some advice, especially if anyone has had a similar experience.
I've been engaged by a local NFP to come up with a logo design, of which I was asked if I would do it for free as they have no funds to pay for any advertising or marketing work at this point as they are brand new. The contact is a colleague of a friend so I thought I would do them a favour and agree to do some pro bono work while I'm on maternity leave.
There was no brief given except for some information about who the organisation is, their target market and stakeholders, and some other background information about their services. They didn't have any idea what they wanted so I submitted 8 original concepts.
They liked one of them in particular and I was given direction to tweak this concept with different colour options then presented. After about a week hearing nothing, they came back with a sample logo that they had mocked up on something called Logo Joy and asked me to work with that new concept (which looked nothing like anything I had submitted originally). I was a bit taken aback that they had shown me something completely different but I thought I would compromise and make some enhancements to their idea (font choices, colours, etc).
After two weeks I had heard nothing, so I followed up and now they have come back with ANOTHER completely different concept that has been mocked up in Canva and asked me to "play around with this logo design".
I'm feeling very frustrated by the seemingly lack of recognition of all the work that has been put into this project and that they are creating their own concepts this late in the process, essentially bringing me back to square one. And the fact that I'm not being paid for this work just adds another level of frustration. How do I tell the client politely that this isn't acceptable? They have indicated that there is more work needed in the future and they would be happy to pay for work once they get funds so I also don't want to burn my bridges!
Been there more times than I'd like to admit on a public forum (DOH!)
Fact is, working for free and doing someone a favour almost ALWAYS leads to this.
Even if it's friends or family.
Many people I know point blank refuse to work for free even if it's for family for this very reason.
What happens is (in my experience), when you agree to work for free it usually starts off quite informally with a very vague brief and no agreement (sound familiar?) so you've pretty much walked into an open ended story.
The fact you're doing it for free also does funny things to peoples perception of what you're doing and the value they attach to it.
When it's for free they seem to think you're a hobbyist sat doing it in front of the TV for your own enjoyment not hours on end working on your machine at your desk.
When people are paying for your time they value it much more when they can see dollar signs.
Also, when you have an agreement about number of designs/revisions and additional work fees it sets down the rules and the client usually respects you more for this.
It's very basic psychology.
As an example, I reluctantly agreed to design a logo for a colleague who was starting a cupcake business as a favour to help them out.
I did quite a few designs and spent quite a while doing them.
When I passed it over they chose one and all I got was a "thanks".
Not a bottle of my fave tipple. Not even a f@cking cup cake.
If I'd have charged them it'd have been well over £1000 GBP.
They just didn't see the value in what I'd done for them as they were completely ignorant to this.
As for what to do with your present predicament.
You've started off on the wrong foot.
The 'client' clearly does not appreciate what they are getting and the work you are doing or respect you as a professional.
This perception is now set and will be almost impossible to turn around and even if there is paid work on the horizon.
What has been created is a "nightmare client" situation.
Do you want this?
Is this the kind of relationship you want for the future?
:: They have indicated that there is more work needed in the future and they would be happy to pay for work once they get funds::
Who hasn't heard this one before?
It's almost an inside joke in the industry.
If you want to carry on with them then I'd do my best to educate them about the work you've put in and the real world $ value of this and if you are to carry on with the project then there are rules.
This will be very difficult.
It may turn sour but you'll be able to walk away feeling you've tried and put it down to experience.
Don't get me wrong. I like doing things for people to help them out or for a good cause but in my experience it ALWAYS turns out like this.
It's not about just working for free.
It's the amount of work you end up doing for no return and very little respect and appreciation.
Almost every designer on AIF will tell you the same story as most will have been there.
::How do I tell the client politely that this isn't acceptable?::
::I'm feeling very frustrated by the seemingly lack of recognition of all the work that has been put into this project and that they are creating their own concepts this late in the process, essentially bringing me back to square one. And the fact that I'm not being paid for this work just adds another level of frustration.::
@Scotty all of what you said resonates with me - I've been working in the industry for over 14 years, both in an agency and as an inhouse corporate designer and when you place a dollar value on a job, it does change a client's psychology about the work and how the process rolls through. Although they have indicated that there is more work to come, given the current situation and how the design process has been treated so far, I think I'm going to politely decline being able to do more work until they can pay for any upcoming projects that they would like done.
It's a shame that some clients only see the designer as a means to an end, rather than an experienced professional with good advice and industry experience so they know what they're talking about when presenting concepts and rationale behind creative work. Anyone with off-the-shelf software these days thinks they can call themselves a designer, it's almost laughable except I've seen it too many times to count.
@Dan well I certainly am going to stand up for myself, I was just wanting some opinions on how to carefully word a response while still being professional about it all. I have grown many 'pairs' during my career but wanted to open a discussion with my fellow designers as a sounding board to this predicament. Thanks for your feedback.
If you got 14 yrs exp, then you should know better. Or maybe that's the difference between being employed and a freelancer. The later deals with these situations all the time. Clients like this will exhaust all your time then create their own (garbage) logo and think it's fantastic. Their budgets are low, they wont listen and will want to control everything.
@Dan I guess I was trying to help this client out from the goodness of my heart. Of course I knew from my experience that this outcome was always a possibility - perhaps I'm not as ruthless as others out there and had hoped for a smoother ride, and you're probably right about freelancers having more experience in protecting themselves against foreseeable situations like this. I don't think designing should always be about the money but knowing how to deal with clients is a learned skill so constructive advice for sticky situations is always welcome.
Scotty nailed it, nothing more to be said. Fire them (politely) and move on.
This is why cheap online logo companies exist now, to service clients like this. Don't try and compete on that level.
I sometimes do free work for close friends but state up front that I'm only presenting one concept and won't be making any changes. They can take it or leave it. And I also expect a small gesture in return, generally in alcohol form.