5 ways to get clients to take more risks

You could be the best creative director, with the best design portfolio in the world, but it might not make a difference to a client who likes to play it safe. 

As part of a series from Computer Arts, the team at London-based branding and communication studio NB provide some top advice on how to get clients to take more risks when it comes to branding strategies.

01. Involve the client early

"When you've got a new client, it's all about earning trust," says NB co-founder Alan Dye. "We like to get clients on board very early on so they're part of the creative process. You get a better result than you would just presenting a concept to them. it makes it their concept as well as your concept."

02. Problem-solve together

Throughout the project, work collaboratively through the issue, problem or question set out by the client. "We'll start with a workshop, or several workshops," says NB co-founder Nick Finney. "Whereas in the past we might have been able to sketch something and think, 'it's going to be that,' nowadays, you have to keep an open mind and work with your client towards an end goal."

03. Ask a lot of questions

"When we get a brief, we start questioning what we've been set," adds Dye. "You ask a lot of 'why' questions and generally end up rewriting the brief with the client, making it better by finding out what they really want."

04. Open communication channels

"Clients are people as well. They've got their own ambitions for their role and what they want to achieve," points out brand strategist Tom Moloney. "Build up your relationship so that they can say, 'Oh, I'm having trouble with X from this department.' Keep those channels open. It works both ways, because you can then show half-formed thoughts and have discussions. You can have a much more open and honest conversation."

05. Know when to walk away

"For Tom and I, the most difficult part of our job is saying, 'Maybe we shouldn't be working with this client. Maybe we shouldn’t get into a relationship with them,'" reflects Moloney's fellow brand strategist Dan Radley. "We're best when we're working with people who are really enlightened and have a bit of courage themselves."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 252 in 2016. Check out the Computer Arts' YouTube channel for more video insight into leading design studios, or subscribe to the magazine here. 

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Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.