Throughout my internet adventures I have found websites, articles, and web comics dedicated to bad clients. ClientsFromHell.net, 6 Warning Signs of a Potentially Bad Client, and this comic from TheOatmeal.com are just a few of the things I have discovered.
These three links have one thing in common: the creative people feel like they are too restricted by their client. They feel as though they were hired to come up with a creative to a solution to a problem, while the client micromanages and hinders their creativity.*
It gets tricky, because the client has stated what they want, and since they are paying the creative team they should get the results they want. At the same time the creative team is working to make something to draw people in. They are trying to approach the problem from different angles to come up with an interesting and unique solution. Sometimes the solution is something the client had never even thought of (which is often why they hired the creative team in the first place), so they need to let go of the reigns a bit and trust that the end result will be great.
That is the solution to the client and creative team butting heads: trust. The client needs to trust that the creative team will do their job, and do it well, and the creative team needs to trust and respect what the client wants. When a client is constantly sending revisions and morphing the creative team’s ideas into an awful mess, it only makes both parties angry. The client gets angry because they’re getting a bad end result, and the creative team gets angry because they’re not able to do their job.
The client should certainly be updated with how things are going, and the direction the creative team is going in, and are certainly welcome to voice their opinions and critiques. The creative team should respect the client’s ideas, and if they begin to stray uncomfortably far from what the client wants, should step back and adjust accordingly. At the same time, they should not allow their design to turn into something they don’t like, because their name will always be attached to that project. It can be difficult, but when a business relationship like this goes sour, it’s best to drop the client or creative team rather than keep the bad relationship.
When a client and creative team can communicate respectfully, and trust that the other knows what they’re doing, it makes for a much better working relationship.
*This certainly does not happen between every client and creative team, and not every creative agency feels this way about their clients.