Logo design nightmares: with friends like these...

The third in our four-part series looking at logo design nightmares reveals what can happen when you mix business with pleasure – plus advice on how to deal with the fallout when things go wrong…

Nightmare #3: With friends like these...
Anonymous designer, Toronto

“I made a crucial mistake that a lot of freelancers make: working for a friend. I thought he was nice, but I hadn’t been exposed to his business demeanour. The project was branding and logo creation for his sales and marketing company.

In the beginning, he wanted something similar to another company’s emblem. I told him that this wouldn’t represent his business appropriately, since most people wouldn’t associate that look with what he was selling.

I was pleased when he took my advice and thought things would be easy because he was hearing me out. But we went back and forth regarding the elements he wanted in the logo. He constantly changed his mind about the shapes he wanted and how to arrange them. Soon I had more than 100 emails. Every morning, there would be 10 or more waiting, all marked ‘urgent’, with explicit instructions about changes.

Once the key elements were finalised, he found other things to obsess over. I created the logo in Illustrator, but sent him a JPEG because he didn’t have the software. Whenever I sent revisions, he zoomed right in. He was now sending emails saying things like: “Move it one pixel to the top,” or “Try one pixel to the bottom.” This went on and on.

I told him I would charge for all these revisions and was losing patience. So he bought Illustrator – and didn’t know what to do with it. Unbelievably, the client now wanted me to teach him to make all the changes by himself. I explained that this wasn’t my job, so he asked for the working file. I refused because he hadn’t paid for the work yet. He decided to move forward with me after all.

I awoke the next morning to a ton of revisions, each more tedious than the next. A pixel up; move this down a pixel. By the end of the project I had over 400 emails and a migraine. It’s a great logo design to showcase, but of all my work I’d say it’s definitely the most painful for me to look at.”

What to do: our advice

Draw up a contract clearly outlining the project specs and fees. It can save a great deal of stress if you clarify that you will bill for time reading emails and making changes. Ensure new clients understand it, and limit how many revisions they can make before incurring extra costs.

Don't miss:
Logo design nightmare #1: redesigning the wheel
Logo design nightmare #2: brand-clour chameleon
Logo design nightmare #4: total payment drought

Have you experienced a logo design nightmare? Let us know below...

Words: Anne Wollenberg
Illustration: Camelia Dobrin, as seen in Computer Arts Projects 148.