I Love It…. Just Change It

Not Quite Unconditional Love

I Love It.... Just Change It

Sometimes we agonize over every detail, submit and resubmit options and designs to one another and start over again with fresh elements until we’ve created the perfect ad, webpage, logo or whatever. Even if we don’t have much of a lead time to work with, we’ll sacrifice our personal lives or business development goals to pour our hearts and souls into a client’s request. After a rigorous trial, and considering the required parameters, available assets, existing brand appearance and the client’s budget we’ll present what we believe to be the best possible response to our client. To our great satisfaction and infinite joy, they respond immediately, “I love it!” Nothing could be more satisfying to an artist than recognition that her work is appreciated. Of course, every so often there is a caveat, that love is not quite unconditional. And the next word we hear or read, “just…”

Such an innocuous little word, right? Just turn her face a little. Just add a border. Just edit the copy. Just change it. No big deal to make some changes for our customer. Sometimes ‘just’ changing it entails far more effort than the client could possibly understand, or to perform such a request would be beyond available resources. However, often enough the requested change is within reasonable limits of the assignment. It’s just that we’ve already used an image that showed more face, it wasn’t better, we discarded it. We had a border on there for a while, for the last 8 versions we’ve been borderless – it just looks better. We poured over that copy analyzing every word, every connotation, entendre, rhyme and alliteration, every trailing character, leading syllable, dangling definition, anagram possibility, character count and negative space. The fonts have been carefully weighed, tested, licensed, styled, customized and arrayed. Presenting the finished product of our due diligence has left us in a quandary. Should we have let the client in on our all-night design meetings? Should we have submitted all eleventy-seven versions for approval?

I used to cringe when I heard someone say, “just change it”, but not anymore.

A Magical Place

I Love It.... Just Change It

As we did in agonizing over the assignment, we’d be close to making the error of agonizing over the response. I long ago learned something about that cold little adverb, just. If your client sees the change they request as only or merely a minor difference, that should raise a flag. Either you haven’t accurately portrayed what service you perform for them, and at what cost and process or the change is indeed minor. If it is within the scope of the project but we’ve already discarded that change, it is our duty to speak up, let the client know that in our experience and expertise we do not favor such a modification. If it really is an irrelevant difference, its often better to accept the change, just to foster a good relationship and to help make sure the client feels like a part of the design process, if that is what they want. If they are asking too much or there just isn’t enough time left, that too is important to clarify, and right away.

I used to cringe when I heard someone say, “just change it”, but not anymore. Aside from triggering us to clarify our relationship or process, and other than seeing it as an opportunity to let the client’s voice into the design, I also look at it as a compliment. That’s right, a compliment! She did say she loved it, didn’t she? Sometimes the design or the artwork is so powerful that is just inspires the audience. If they felt that inspiration with every breath, they probably wouldn’t have hired us in the first place. Instead, we brought them to that magical place and showed them their wings. What else could you expect but that they’d want to fly too?

The next time you tell your designer or your marketing team, to just change something, just remember, they might not take it so well. They might be grumbling inside. Just look at what inspired you to make that suggestion and let them know what it was. I promise, you will both benefit from that recognition. Or, if someone tells you to just change it, know in your heart that you might have inspired them, exactly as you had hoped to do!

Rich Harris
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