This is the fifth installment in the 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising. So far, I have covered the following parts:

  • Part 1: Basic Rules
  • Part 2: Rules of Composition
  • Part 3: Rules of Workflow and Getting it Done
  • Part 4: Rules of Personal Matter

Set 5: The Rules of Business Relationships

In the 5th and final part of the 55 secret rules in design and advertising, we will deal with the part where you have to generate an income from your work. it is a fact that a designers job comprises more than just design. You know this, especially if you are a freelancer. As for thrilling experiences, if handling clients wasn’t a part of your job, you’d have to start getting into free-fall parachuting instead.

Accordingly, our first rule of business relationships is the following.

1. Your client always knows everything better

I want a flower. Show me a flower and I’ll want a tree. Give me the tree and I’ll ask for a river. Bring the river and I’ll demand a bucket to water the forest I wanted in the first place.

– Your Client

I’d like to bring up your neighbors sassy troublemaker. The one who is 3.5 feet tall, usually smashes your front windows and spray-paints your wife’s tulips. Even though you might agree with him that the tulips look a lot better with silver and toxic green stripes, and even if this might turn out to be a key experience for the kid, who might become a great graffiti artist one day – you very much object to it because these are your tulips. Sorry – even worse! They are your wife’s tulips.

If we project this scenario onto your situation as a designer, we could say that to your client, you are that kid. You spray-painted his wife’s tulips. In addition, you even dare to speak up and defend your art instead of doing exactly what he asked you to do. The point is, because you are the designer, and your client is – well, your client, you have to skillfully balance his wishes – and his needs. You have to prove that your approach is the professional one and, if so, that his idea of an approach is a bunch of crap (regarding that, also read Your Clients Bad Taste). Convince your client by acting professionally and embodying who you are – the designer, not a graffiti kid.

All of this, of course, under the condition that your client is new to design and that you are good at what you do. If your client has experienced working with design professionals before, your job might be easier.