It’s a common topic among creatives: red flags and nightmare clients.
How to spot red flags?
How to deal with nightmare clients?
How to avoid them?
With experience, more often than not, you can foresee it in the small things. But sometimes it surprises you out of nowhere. Usually in an obvious way and you can’t believe you haven’t seen it coming.
Recently, this happened to me on a first call with a potential client for a Brand Identity Design Project. Unexpectedly – after discussing the brand, my process, a possible timeline, the scope and the investment for the project – when it all seemed to fit perfectly, this particular red flag alert unfolded:
“I have a sketch, an idea. Something I drew myself. I’ll send it to you.”
Classic red flag alert!
I could almost see it, fluttering in the wind right in front of me. Mocking me. Standing between me and success. A large, bulky red flag.
How could I miss it throughout the meeting? How will I deal with this red flag now?
When a client imposes this kind of ruling, deciding the way and narrowing the margin of input the designer should have, it’s usually impossible to proceed with the project. When designing a brand, this is generally a deal breaker.
Luckily, it turned out to be a false alarm. The client explained that she wanted to show me her idea, but by no means wished to restrict my process and creativity. The sketch should be an example, a hint I could follow up or ignore completely.
Red flag avoided!
It turned out to be a vote of confidence, a way to contribute without imposing, saying “I have this. If it’s not the right option, ignore it. I trust you.”
I took it into consideration but chose a different path.
The supposed red flag revealed itself as something good, underlining the client’s confidence.
Check out the SUNFLOWER brand design project here.
I’m still not sure how to sign-off these posts, so…