When a client is resistant to your advice


J.G. writes:

What do you do when your client is resistant to your advice, and because of that is slowing down the timeline quite a bit? My client is SUPER nice, but is really hung up on being trendy, despite her awareness and saying she doesn't want to be trendy. She is a photographer and I originally talked her out of going down the path of doing another watercolor + gold foil logo, but she keeps coming back to it despite my best attempts at creating something classic and timeline, claiming that it feels more "personal".

Is this something that you would just call it a wash, and do what the client says? I want to communicate that I know my branding + logo principles, and that she shouldn't be in control, but I also don't want to come across as arrogant, or reluctant to her feedback.

This is a tough one, for sure! I think there's a few things in play here:

She's in an industry that is ultra competitive and very much driven toward certain visual trends. While it's a little annoying, I also understand her subconscious pull back to that well, so I would take it less as any unintentional disrespect to your knowledge and expertise, but just her reaction to the landscape of her industry. I also wonder if she's a more established photographer or someone who is just starting out or at least just starting to gain some steam? I feel the photographers who I follow who are at the top of the industry are the ones who are super comfortable eschewing all of the trends and trappings and sticking to clean and timeless so if she's someone who is in that in-between phase, I could see that motivating her toward the more "personal" trend too. OR maybe she just really really can't get that watercolor style out of her head and no amount of convincing will sway her otherwise.

Honestly, I think she sounds like a client who probably won't be 100% happy until she sees some iteration of the watercolor or foil in her logo. There are certain scenarios where I think you'd be better off standing your ground, for example, if it's a client relationship you want to sever anyway because they're being an unbearable a-hole about the process, or there's already been numerous red flags in the back and forth. But since she sounds like she is truly not trying to be difficult and disrespectful, I think it would garner more client good will if you were willing to open the door to working out a compromise on the logo. I know you don't want to do trendy, but you could frame it as a personal design challenge for yourself - to create as classic and beautiful a take on watercolor + foil as you can. 

Worst case scenario, it's not the kind of mark you want in your portfolio and you highlight your rejected concept instead but you have a happy client. Best case scenario, she compares the two and either feels drawn back to the original classic concept, or she loves the new one and you can wrap up the job with a happy client.

What do you think? Do you disagree? Would you stand your ground or take the process in a different direction?