How Being a “Good Client” Gets Results


Whether you are launching a new brand or rejuvenating your existing business, your brand identity—your logo, website, sales materials, and packaging, for example—should send the right message to your target audience. They should accurately and consistently portray the essence of your brand. When working with a design firm, thoughtful communication, professional trust, and a little bravery are keys to being what we call “a good client.” These are a few of the ways you can be a model client, get stronger results, and control your business destiny.

Share your budget. Once you’ve identified your branding and marketing partner, be honest about your budget parameters. I think I speak for most reputable designers when I say that we want to be longtime partners…our goal is to help you plan your strategy to maximize your resources and select the marketing avenues that will get you the best results. That’s a win-win relationship, but we can only do that if we know what you are working with.

Be open to ideas. Try to refrain from “telling” a marketing firm what you need. Rather, share your long-term goals, strategic ideas and basic needs as you see them. Are you going after business in a new market? Are you launching a new product? If you simply place an order—such as “I want a new website”—you prevent your marketing partner from sharing their invaluable insights, professional experience and creativity, and you might miss out on marketing innovations that will most effectively move the needle for you.

Be realistic about your expectations and your comfort level. “I want something totally out of the box.” Do you really? We love to be creative, but you might not be emotionally ready to let go of that family crest on the logo or the typeface you’ve been using since the company began. Be honest about any sacred cows while also working to stretch your boundaries and challenge your comfort level. Being true to your own roots and honest from the start allows designers to work effectively and stay within your aesthetic. You never know…we might just create something unexpected from your core branding elements that knocks your socks off.

We know it’s scary to ask outside help to represent your brand, but design and marketing professionals have your best interest at heart. We really want to create a break-through campaign that brings you success. Trust us to know the science of marketing and the intuition of design. I believe you’ll be glad you did.

By guest contributor, Taja Dockendorf.

Taja Dockendorf is the visionary leader of Pulp+Wire, corralling the talents of a nimble, perceptive and highly creative staff to help dynamic entrepreneurs and passionate small business owners strategize, design and execute marketing campaigns that take their businesses to the next level.


  1. Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    I think you do a great job capturing one of the things that makes a designer a “professional:” partnering with the clients to achieve long-term strategic results. The work isn’t valuable because it’s creative; it’s valuable because it achieves real results. The methodology to get there is something that only a real designer can access, which is where we belong in the process.

    With so many people getting software and claiming to be designers, I think that posts like this are great steps in the project of articulating why our profession is essential to any organization’s mission.

  2. Posted June 28, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

    This is a fantastic article! My husband and I have owned our small business for the past 20 years. About 3 years ago we took the giant leap of faith and met with a few marketing firms. Everything Taja mentions in this article are among the many reasons we selected her firm.

  3. Posted June 30, 2011 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    Nice article, Taja. Are these comments heard from a good client?
    1) “Make the logo bigger.”
    2) “My nephew is pretty handy with a camera so we’d like you to use his photos for our ads.”
    3) “I have a pretty good eye for this kind of thing, so I’m gonna help you guys out with the design.”
    4) “We got a guy here who took a graphic design class. Your stuff doesn’t look much different than his.”
    5) “We’re going to write our own copy to save a few bucks.”
    6) “Eeeew, I don’t like the color.”

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