May 2, 2008

The Client is King...

Three incarnations of one of my approaches.

...But They Shouldn't Play Art Director.

As designers you do your best to improve the local design culture in your sphere of influence. You work with small business owners to deliver a level of craft that will hopefully improve their image and perceived value in the local economy. That's why they call our industry "Commercial Arts."

Well sometimes no matter how hard you try to help a client they insist on committing design suicide. You know the type. They usually say upfront "I want something unique!" Instantly your mind starts stirring and you get excited about working on the project.

That is how this project started off. I've always wanted to work on a radio station logo, I always thought most were boring and lame. But this client wanted something "unique." So I started to do a visual audit of other sports radio stations nationwide and discovered a sea of sans serif mundane marks. I now knew what not to do.

My directions took a contemporary path. More sophisticated yet fun. The station is fan centric so I worked that into one incarnation as well. Another I graphically represented stadium seats. (The client wanted a literal stadium in the logo so this was my compromise.)

A new "San Serif" direction. (OK, I slipped in a serif)

Well the feedback on the first round was pretty clear, they hated everything.

Ironically it was labeled as "Too different." They requested one that was "Bolder" and surprise, surprise used san serif typography. Another problem was they kept changing their mind regarding what the station would actually be called. I've always thought using the term "Radio" in a logo for radio was pretty redundant and not necessary but they insisted. Thus the above incarnations were delivered.

At this point I regret taking on the job but keep pushing forward.

They respond positively to this approach, I feel OK with it but know it's nothing to write home about and figure if the client likes it then that's good enough for this project and delivered all the final art files.

The lame logo they ended up with.

I hear an ad on the radio today announcing the new station and they give out the URL so I decide to check it out and what do I find? A bastardized version of the logo I designed.

Obviously the station manager kept playing art director until they ended up with the same type of mark that hundreds of other radio stations nationwide have.

Sometimes all you can do is try your best and clients will still go their own route and choose to participate in the celebration of mediocre design.


razvan said...

I was curious to see how your logo ended up but I couldn't find it on the website. I saw the station will be launch on the 12th.

Anyway, it's very sad to work for this type of clients. I feel your pain :)

skEtcher said...

Being a big sports fan, and a listener to sports radio out of Chicago, I've never really seen too many sites, or designs, that have been that great. I'm really not sure why, but after seeing what they ended up with, it must be something in the water.

Visited the site and it just looks wretched!

95.5 the game website

Matt Schuster said...

Ouch. That just hurts my eyes. But I love the logo you did with the big foam #1 hand.

Bombon Cocoa Drink said...

Wait a minute, Voster!
What happened to those weasel guys who stole your tribal face tattoo design. That story disappeared from your blog! Legal reasons?

Vonster said...


We are pursuing the stolen art matter legally. Once resolved to my satisfaction I'll re-post it.


Joseph said...

I baffled to why they passed on the first round of designs. Great job.

hoobyjuice said...

Since you did them up for the client, do they still own the draft versions you did (which are waaay cooler)?

Like if they came to their senses would they be legally entitled to use your earlier drafts as their official logo?

I presume this was a 'work for hire' contract tyep deal.

Vonster said...

They only own the final version I delivered. The unused concepts I retain all rights too. So if they came to their senses (won't happen) they'd have to re-negotiate a fee for using the other concepts.

That said it's a pipe dream. Better chance to win the lottery then to see that happen.