July 19, 2012 Neville Godwin

How to ruin your Graphic Designers or Design Agency’s work

There is a common saying which goes:

“a camel is a horse designed by committee”

Over the 20+ years I’ve worked in the design and advertising industry I’m well aware that the best work sometimes doesn’t make it to the printers / shop shelf / on-line / exhibition stand or whatever the projects aim is. In fact there used to be a section in the D&AD awards book on client rejected campaigns / slogans and they were always better than the signed-off adverts.

Now this isn’t a moan about clients not seeing the creative or artistic merit of an idea. Their refusal to sign-off on an idea can be for many reasons, budget restraints, the client thinking it’s too controversial for their market or too many people in the sign-off chain, all wanting input for petty political reasons. I’ve seen them all. My feelings are that as long as you’ve justified your professional advice with solid design theory, market research, previous case studies or google analytics, then that’s all you can do. If the client then wants to go 180˚ in the other direction so be it. The client is paying the money so it’s their choice at the end of the day.

In this scenario, many agencies have what they feel is the best solution worked up as well and put next to the ad that ran in their portfolio.

Anyway all these things are well and good but I’m digressing. The main point of this posting was to highlight a trend that is gathering pace and which more often than not, is a real false economy!

This is the practice of clients controlling the print of a design job with no experience, usually to save £20 or £50 over the quote from the agencies printer. I know in these tough economic times companies are looking to save money but this is really a false economy. In some cases the clients have spent thousands on design and then ruin the job at the last stage, all for very little saving.

This is detrimental in many ways:

  • The end result isn’t what the client wanted and due to an understandable lack of knowledge in this area, sometimes they see it as the agencies fault.
  • The result is often a poorer piece of marketing and in some cases plain unusable, wasting the companies budget. Again sometimes the agency gets blamed.
  • The agency see all their hard work ruined and usually can’t put the work in their portfolio or use it for marketing. A small issue you may think but if they’ve been working on a brochure for six months, you can imagine the disappointment.

Below is a recent example of such an outcome. We were asked to produce some business cards for this client and he would arrange the printing as he had a few guys who owed him a favour! After the design was signed-off we supplied the print spec and the artwork to the client. About a month later I met the client who handed me his new card…

The printer being polite must have had an “off day” as they’d taken the artwork reduced it by 5% and printed it including the special colour named “Non-Printing Cutter Guide”. As I picked my jaw up off the flaw I think the client saw I wasn’t too pleased. I explained the printer had gone through more effort to print it incorrectly than if they’d done the job properly! The client then summed the situation up perfectly “Oh I hadn’t noticed that, I just accepted it as I don’t know about these things!” Exactly I’d have thrown the job back and got a reprint or a refund.

Your business card has never been more important with the growth of business networking. Done well it’ll niftily encapsulate whether you’re established and traditional or modern and challenging. It’s probably the most important marketing item you’ll have, so call in the professionals and get the job done right!’

We can help.

Like most things in life you get what you pay for. I’ll end with another saying I often say to clients when discussing the printing of their marketing material.

“I can get you good print and I can get you cheap print but I can’t get you good, cheap print!”

A great example of a good design job ruined

A great example of a good design job ruined

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