Why I never explain my designs before revealing them to my client

design presentation graphic design blender

In 2009, I wrote a post titled “7 tips on presenting logos to a client” and more than three years later I got this tweet from @thomshouse:

I was curious of the order in which you present a logo… Do you lead with the logo, then discuss the “why”… Or discuss first, building up to the reveal?

Today, I want to share my answer with all of you and then I want to hear what you have to say (leave a comment).

I’ve been the client

Here’s the really cool and pretty unique thing I’ve been able to do since 2009:

When I wrote the post, I had only worked as a freelance designer at that point. But in 2010, I got a full-time job in marketing and design and I’ve had the chance to work with a ton of designers on a bunch of new projects.

And I’ve noticed that there really are 2 ways of presenting designs:

1. Build to the reveal. Give your client the reasoning behind your design, what motivated you to design what you did, and how you got to the end product.

2. Open with the reveal. Before explaining anything about the design, simply reveal the new designs to the client. Explanations can come later if needed.

Hands down, reveal first!

And here’s what I’ve realized as I’ve been able to play the “client” role: As a designer, you’re making a terrible mistake by guiding them through your design process before showing them the design.

Why? Here’s my take (I’d love to hear yours):

Why I never explain my designs before revealing them

1. You ruin the genuine experience. When your new logo, billboard, web site, etc finally gets revealed for public usage/viewing, you won’t have the chance to give a build up to each viewer. So if your designs can’t stand alone (without a lecture from you), then you better take them back to the drawing board.

2. You miss out on a genuine reaction. Want to know what people will really think of your designs once they go public? Then don’t build it up for your client. Reveal it immediately and pay attention to their facial expressions, their body language and their initial reaction. You’ll know if you nailed it based on this first impression you get from your client.

3. Client actually don’t care (gasp). As designers, we’re fascinated with the design process, right? But guess, what, your clients aren’t. They’re focused on building their business and have hired you for all that geeky design stuff.

Do you build up or reveal immediately?

I’m dying to know if you agree or disagree with me. Do you prefer to build up to it, or reveal your designs right away? Leave a comment and let’s talk it out!

About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes you just can’t put your ideas into words and what you envision in your mind may paint a completely different vision in the client’s mind when you try to explain it.

    I usually like to deliver initial mockups with a design rationale that explains why I did what I did, what the goals were, the problems, the solutions, etc. This really helps sell the client and actually speeds up the design process because then they’re like “Oh yeah, that makes sense”. They tend to like the designs more when I reiterate the problems and goals they came to us with and what our solution to them was.

    Now clients that have their own vision and they simply want to give instructions on what they want to see as opposed to what we could come up with…..well that’s another story ;)

    • I go for the direct reveal! I’ve usually gone into a lot of depth with them though as to what they’re wanting to see, without actually “asking”. I love the reactions!!!! :)

  2. Love this post! You are so right in #1, if you need to explain, then it isn’t going work with the mass – plus hopefully you took some good direction from them in the beginning (they get you are using green because it is in their logo or you already decided “retro” is a look they are going for). Thanks for the great content.

  3. I reveal immediately, because it mimics the user experience. I won’t be around to explain the logo every time someone sees it, so I kick it out there before the client. It should stand on its own. The older I get, the more that building up to the presentation seems ultra “precious”. If the logo design has come out of strategy discussions with the client, they already know the buildup!

  4. I’ve presented both ways and generally I think it best to do the “reveal” after a short recap of what the client needs from the development or what the parameters were when you started the job. I have used a short, stylized version of the process-that-lead-to-the-design type of presentation and as long as it isn’t full of design shop talk, that client’s don’t really care about (sadly), than that works pretty well too. Kinda depends on what your solution ended up being and how you got there.

    • I like this approach the best. People should be reminded of the communication goals. Then they are critiquing based on shared criteria for building. Losing the goals is why dancing kittens get into creative work. We want an honest response, but without a subjective derailing of the goals of the work.

  5. Interesting take on the design process. For logos, I have always just “revealed” then watched their expressions and taken it from there. Logos are so subjective, I learned a long time ago that often what I think is a killer metaphor may not float their boat at all. So more from a “keep from getting egg on my face” I keep my mouth shut until they start commenting and inevitably ask questions. From there, I have found the iterative process of their feedback with my design skills complement the overall creation of a mark that really works for their company.
    Regarding other publications, particularly print, I usually show them what I have and give a brief explanation of why the concept was created. I don’t go into depth until they start asking questions, but perhaps your approach is more organic. On the other hand, many of my clients are trusting not only my design skills, but my marketing expertise (was in sales/marketing for many years) so they are always picking my brain about the hows and why’s. I try to establish a “consultant” relationship with them but am very careful not to imply I have all the answers, particularly about their business or industry. This helps foster great communication about their needs and my ability to get them where they are going. I rather enjoy the process and have been in the business long enough to have a lot of insights that a lot of business owners apparently never think of. This only lends credibility to my designs and often I am able to work with them to move them in a completely different direction. All of this would not be possible without the “build up” to some extent up front.

  6. Jamie Tubmen says:

    Definitely, reveal first! That is the moment of truth.

  7. Yeah, it’s hard to imagine that our clients don’t care about the design process, when that’s what we eat, sleep, breathe. But you’re totally right, and I need to remember that. And you’re also right to remind us that this is why they pay us. LOL!

  8. I agree and always reveal right away as I’m looking for gut reactions from my clients. The only comments I make will be general – wanting to avoid cliches, vague colour references etc., after all, although I’ve taken an accurate brief I’m still working from a blank canvas and what a client says initially may not actually be what they want and part of the process is to draw that out. My attitude when I present, is that this is my interpretation of the brief and now we need to sit down and discuss it again. It works because the client doesn’t feel pressurised.

    I’ve worked with a designer who always built it up (quite frankly I think he liked the sound of his own voice) and it didn’t add anything to the presentation. If a design works – it works without the BS.

  9. In my experience, there are two kinds of clients. Ones who DO want to witness and experience the process. Ones who DO NOT, expecting YOU to be the expert and prepared with an expert’s recommendation. (they say they don’t want to know the process until they find they are not in agreement amongst themselves and start asking questions).

    For complex branded logo development, I typically present a progressive “Build to Reveal” with designs grouped under messaging approaches. I do not explain each symbol, focusing the conversation on which approach carries the greater potential for brand extention and impact.

    Often the client’s internal development team expects a process presentation. But subsequent presentations to Board of Directors and other key influencers is usually more of an “Open with Reveal” dynamic.

    Regardless the presentation approach, I try to withhold my opinion until the “deciders” have had an opportunity to experience the selection. I sometimes share the strengths and possible limitations of what appear to be the more winning designs. I see my role as facilitator. Its their logo. Not mine. The client has to want this mark to represent them. If its a good one, they’re going to live with it a long time. So they better like it. : -)

  10. I’m with you Preston, my clients don’t see anything until the final and then I only let them see it for about 10 seconds and take it away. I tell them that I’m going to do this so they can listen to their gut reaction. It’s worked for me so far.

  11. Preston, good post. I do agree that client really could care less about the process. However, they do care whether the logo is on strategy so it’s important to frame your execution in terms of business strategy. I don’t think it matters whether you do it before or after, but I usually speak after revealing the work for the reason you stated in your article; to get the pure reaction.

  12. I think you’re right on this one. I would consider myself as a beginner so to speak at this whole designing thing, though I have designed logos in the past and other projects clients loved. I noticed that when I actually show them what I’ve created they get all excited (a good reaction) but if you explain everything before they get the chance to see it, I think it can be a good and bad thing. It would be a good thing because when you explain it you are able to let them know what you think without them have to ask you. I don’t know about everyone else, but that makes me feel uncomfortable. However, I do in most cases wait for a reaction because if they don’t have any disagreements with it or changes, it’s all good on your side. You don’t want to cheat them out on better ideas, but if they like what they see let them love it. Let your work speak for itself…and If they do, well like you said in that cases you can explain why you did certain things in the particular design and go from there. It could also be bad because the reason they came to you first was for you to create something, so they are trusting your talents. So if you have two versions on a project and disagree with one version more than another they will I believe go with your opinion. I think even if you don’t have to explain the exact process in every detail, you should always let them know after why you thought the end product would suit their taste. It’s a good thing to reason that you know they like a particular things, so you went with it. That lets them know you’re going beyond what they expected and getting out of the “average” boat is good. :)

  13. I would agree with just revealing the design to your client without any buildup. You will get a good honest reaction from them. And to be honest they really could care less on how you came up with the design they just want their message to be portrayed in a professional and clean manner.

  14. Some great advice, thanks!

  15. G’day.
    Great article!
    I absolutely reveal first!
    I won’t explain anything unless the client asks. To me it’s the perfect test of whether or not your brand design works.
    I’m in the process of creating a brand at the moment for a corporate giftware company. One of my concepts is a very minimalistic representation of a gift box. When I reveal the concepts the best case senario will be the client saying something like “I love that one, I really like that element, it’s a gift box but it’s not OBVIOUSLY a gift box, it gets you thinking”. This will indicate that the brand has done its job well, the client has a good grasp of the concept without me needing to guide them. Worst case senario will be more like this “what’s that meant to be, a kangaroo?”. Basically (at least as far as brand design is concerned) I think that if you NEED to explain a concept, it’s not going to fly.

  16. Its funny I should discover this. I’ve just been working on some christmas collateral for a client. And there I am thinking, how do communicate that I have done circles for baubles? I need to make it sound sexy, so they use and dont say “No its **** can we have something else. I suppose it goes against convention, you have your reasons, so you want to share it. You have shared it, there it is: Up on the board, in the pdf, on a secret bit of webspace etc. Saying that you added in the type that they required, makes it worse. There probably thinking – yes it was part of the brief…

    Like you said, if it works, it works.

  17. Yes, I show them and watch the reaction to see what they gravitate to. Then get into a dialog with them about the overall look and feel. It should be able to (a logo) carry itself with no explanation.

    Thanks for this!

  18. I work as a freelance designer from home and most of my “big reveals” to my clients comes via email. How would you reccomend revealing this way?

    • Dave Cearley says:

      I’d use a webex to make some kind of personal connection. I’m a photographer and we have a similar issue in our industry. Some photographers insist on a personal client meeting to “reveal” the photos, and some post the pictures online and let the customer order what they want. One group even ran a test and did a facebook post of what the group agreed was the absolutely best photo from ten portrait sessions each shot by a different photographer, in other words, ten different facebook posts of the number one photo for ten different photographer. The end result? Not a single customer ordered what the pros considered to be the very best photo, simply because it was available to them on Facebook before they had to make a purchase decision. For the personal sales pitch versus online posting, the sales average per customer was at least 60% lower for those who posted online for the customer to review w/o photographer input. Besides, how can you pitch add on services if you’re not talking to the client while they view your work product?

    • Send the client only one finished design. If they don’t like it, ask for what they DO like about it and what they DON’T. Then send them another one.
      As for photos, I once worked for a very successful portrait photographer. When he was showing proofs, he only showed two at a time. It was an A or B choice. “You like this one? Fine, now how about this one (comparing one new one to the one on the table)? Only two were ever showing. It was always and A or B decision. Last one standing was, obviously, the one. Most people would go back and compare the others to it, and almost always the alst one chosen was the one they wanted. A or B. Simple.

  19. I never explain why I do things the way I do. Clients want the end result to look good and professional. They are not concerned about how you came up with the idea and why your using yellow instead of pink. If they ask, then you can explain. They come to you because your a professional. I am sure you do not ask your dentist why he uses certain instruments to fix your cavity, you just want the pain to be gone.

  20. Wow. I’m surprised so many of you prefer to lead with the final result.

    I like to explain my work, and here’s why…

    - The solution I propose is rationale and has reasoning behind it. I like to build a case to demonstrate all the problems it solves before the big AH-HA!!!!

    - I don’t believe there are ah-ha’s. There are many solutions to a problem, but given a certain set of circumstances one solution may be better than all the others. Not putting your solution within that context is a disservice.

    - I don’t measure good design on first impressions. Good design should be long lasting.

    Having said that, there’s no need to BS or go on and on about how clever you are. You can cut to the chase pretty quickly. The idea is to show a thought process and the amount of work it takes to make something seem simple.

    I’m curious how you’d do it any other way? If the client isn’t totally satisfied and wants to see more options, how do you manage that? It seems like there would be dwindling returns if you always lead with first impressions (the more iterations, the more familiar/expected your work becomes). It seems like you’re no longer the problem solver – rather, a pair of hired hands. Not how I like to work.

    • Agree with Ryan!
      The build-up should focus on strategy. What kind of logo do the client need? First explain, then…. BAM!, here is what I am talking about, this is what you need! Nothing else.
      I am pretty sure that many iconic logo design out there, that passed the test of time, would not have gone through, just based on first impression from a client.

  21. Dave Cearley says:

    Having sat on the other side of the desk for all kinds of corporate sales pitches, I can tell you that I spend most of my brainpower during a meeting looking for anything in the pitch that alerts me that you’re selling me your product rather than meeting my needs. I’m not trying to be negative in the meeting, just very alert for subtle details that alert me that what’s being presented in the details matches the initial overview, and that what you’re pitching really will benefit my company. Bottom line, the more detail you give regarding how you arrived at a conclusion, the more opportunities there are for you to say something, anything, that raises concerns your idea might not be a good fit. On the chance that I’m not the final decision maker, be sure to feed me talking points that will make it easy for me to convince my boss that hiring you is the right decision. I;ve seen some really good pitches for products or services I believe are compelling, but the vendor made no effort to make my sales job easier. If I have the bandwidth, time, and risk profile to create my own pitch, you’re in luck. If I’m busy or risk averse and you leave me holding the bag to sell my boss, you’re not going to close the deal. Bottom line, the more you talk, the more objections I can find. Keep it short, to the point, and make me confident I’m making the right choice.

    • @Dave Cearley: “On the chance that I’m not the final decision maker, be sure to feed me talking points that will make it easy for me to convince my boss that hiring you is the right decision.”

      It was my understanding from the original post I have already been hired and I am presenting the visual product I am being compensated to deliver. Otherwise, I would consider presenting completed logos, brochures, web designs, etc. as spec work, which is a BIG NO in my creative process.

      If I am delivering designs, it is because I already have a contract/estimate signed with a down payment during the process of which we have met on one to several occasions to review the product and/or service, primary audience, and discussed the iterative process behind the designs. The majority of the time my contracts include a presentation of two to three final designs, depending on the project, logo, series of posters or spa’s or a single brochure based on an existing brand and provided photography or illustrations and copy.

      In this case, I agree with the brief summary of the approach behind the designs to accompany the “reveal” and confirm to the client my understanding his requirements and needs for this particular design delivery. Additional detail can be made available at the client’s requests.

      Hope I did not misunderstand your meaning regarding “decision to hire.”

      just my 2¢ …

  22. Well, I depends. There are a lot of reasons behind the choice of reveal at once or not. I am doing it both ways in my Web Design/Dev projects. How is that?, you may ask.

    When you’re ready to bring your clients and show-off your work, you’re making a sale. You’re selling yourself and a design work that means something, it must always have a reason ( We don’t do art remember?). So I guess it depends from the people that will watch your presentation.

    If they are my clients for a long time, I know their palette and have already gained their trust then I reveal first. Its always a great pleasure to see some shining eyes.

    If the clients are new ones I have to gain their trust, so I make an intro, then reveal it to see the reaction and of course at the end I explain a lot about the project and my design/dev choices.

    There is another category, of Smart Ass clients that think they know things about Design and Dev and in most cases they are ready to push you a lot. In this case I talk a lot before the reveal. I need to make them understand that I know what I am talking about, I am Pro and they really need to think twice before trying to ruin my reveal of the Design :-)

    I hope that makes sense.

  23. I tend to lean to point 2 and 3, because personal taste won’t really be affected by your do’s and don’t's. But it also depends on how well you feel you have read the client’s wants and needs…

  24. I was actually surprised by your answer(reveal first), although you make some valid points. I think some rationale for the approach you took(strategy, direction,style, etc…) before the reveal is important. Otherwise the client may be visualizing something in their mind that may not be in line with what you created. So some build up, I think, helps. Otherwise it’s a case of…here, so what do you think? They may have some irrational response, that could be mitigated by some explanation up front, but not too much. I’m an illustrator, who does some design, so most of my clients I never meet face to face. So, my presentations tend to be via email. As a result, I do include some explanation of my visuals in my email. Since the visuals are usually included as an an attachment that can sometimes be viewed directly inside the email(jpgs) vs. a pdf that needs to be opened, it varies as to whether the client reads the description before or after the reveal. Regardless, I think some explanation is necessary.

  25. I like to let the clients do the driving. What does this mean, I pretend I am a creative machine with an infinite number of ideas.

    I send every concept that is generated in a two hour design session. Anywhere from 6-12 designs and send them to the client via e-mail.

    I encourage them to show the designs to friends and family for a bit of test marketing. I find this really helps the client understand the important role their logo will play in there business.

    After a few days the client and I have a meeting of the minds. Then I go in for another two hour design session. The average time spent on logo designs has been 3-5 creative sessions.

    Jesse Arnold Miller
    Miller-communications.com

    • I think the problem lies in presenting the client with too many options…then it becomes an exercise in comparisons..one logo to the next. I’d also prefer to edit myself, before the client sees anything. I’m by no means an expert at this. Illustration is more my area of expertise, but have done many logos and identities. I think similar factors are at work. But, I love getting different perspectives.

  26. Hi GDB,
    i liked the points stressed out on the logo presentation,
    i’ve done a couple of logos myself on freelancing and i kind of used both methods because it is really helpfull when i am designing and revealing the design to the client. One thing i came across is that it is always good to have the clients imagination or how they percieve the design before it is being designed. From that i do up sketches and input my perception in and i present to them and i look out for that impression. If i see that they have negative impression then i ask them further questions like the design concept and colors and i explain to them why i used the shapes and colors and we come to a compromise for the final design. If i see a positive response then i know the desisn did its part and i do up the final logo and give it to them.

    To finish up, i like the idea of doing both steps at the same time because it works really nice and gives me peace in designing logos.
    What do you think i should do best in applying the two concept in presenting the logo to a client?

    Cheers,
    BJT

  27. I do them simultaneously or as close as possible. I reveal the design and talk about how it fits their needs based on the contract we agreed to, which summarizes our discussion about the design of the piece.

    By explaining myself, I can help refocus them on designing for their target audience and not necessarily their own likes without having to say that. Also, since they sometimes aren’t the decision-maker, I can arm them with a great presentation and talking points to give to their boss, who will be making the final decision.

    Because most of my reveals are through email, I couldn’t tell you whether they open the attachment first or read the email first.

    Over the phone, we usually open the file together and I then give my presentation while they are looking at it.

    • After talking with my clients, most of them look at the attachment before reading my presentation. And generally, my presentation isn’t a long-winded explanation of how I created their logo. It’s more of a guideline of how I believe the elements of the logo speak to the target audience and meet the needs of the client as discussed in our contract.

  28. When we present a corporate identity project to a client, we always ask for a large, standing alone table in a meeting room. (If they don’t have it, we improvise something). It’s like an exposition. We confront the client directly with the designs. We hardly speak and the client walks around the table and observes (and we observe the client(s)).

    In this first presentation, we only show the mock ups: the different designs of logotype AND corresponding housestyle. Some people can’t imagine how their logo fits on a letterhead or business-card. Mostly, they are taking the prints, walk around with it, show it to eachother etc.

    So yes, we like the direct approach. We don’t sell stories.

    Guy Salens
    Belgium

  29. Totally agree with you. The images that you create are supposed to replace the words to communicate the message. So reveal it to find out have you been successful to do that or not?

  30. Hello there. This is a very interesting article. I struggle with this question all the time. I am the type of designer who admittingly thinks I know more of what the customer needs than they do. I tend to begin, by getting the info and ideas of what they are looking for, and go with my interpretation of what those ideas should look like. I usually end up coming up with a design that I feel is almost always above their expectations. I send them a proof only after spending a good amount of time on their design and giving them, what I feel is a finished product. I give them the design in the hopes that they will love it and there will be no changes. After all, according to me, I have given them a design well above any expectations they might have had. But this has burned me a few times and the client wanted something different, even though I feel that I have given them exactly what they should have wanted. While I do have more clients that are happy with my work than not, I still have those individuals who have a different interpretation of what they wanted than I have given them. I want to stop at this point and say that I am extremely open minded and do not want to come off as an all-knowing ignorant designer. I feel I know good from bad design. I am always learning and this is definitely a topic I need to know more about. Any opinion would be appreciated. Thanks.

  31. Some 21 years ago when I first hit the Freelance circuit I would share my motivation and touch on the reasoning behind what I did before I revealed the work. I soon found out, as you so eloquently pointed out… the customer didn’t care… It was a lot of extra preparation in my presentation that I didn’t need to do. When I shifted my presentation to reveal and… ONLY when asked follow with an explanation, did I find that I still got approvals on the first or second reveal and that I shaved a lot of time off of my work time.

  32. Well it’s hard not to agree with your logic here, and I can think of another compelling argument to back up your theory (which I will get to later). You see if you are following proper design process and leading the client through it, there really IS no big reveal or surprise at the end. If all the steps are done correctly, the client has total buy in from the beginning and is privy and part to all the decisions leading to your final design.
    The reason you do this is so you DON’T have to go through an explanation at the reveal. Because as you mention, explains before reveal is bad.
    It seems as you going through your points, your steps through each decision, clients are painting themselves a mental picture in their minds of what is coming. Who knows what the starting point for their picture was? And with every point of your delivery they add another level of complexity to their mental image. Another colour, another flange, another filigree or twist dredged up from the bowels of their design challenged brains. There it is shimmering in there skulls already worked – why yes that is indeed the way it should look!
    Then the big moment arrives and you reveal the design.
    What? No? That’s not the picture in my mind. It should be blue and bigger and have a little thing coming off the dohickey and be in Comic Sans. Oh and there should be a bird on it.
    My point is you right about it being bad to explain your design before the reveal! But for different reasons and I believe supply the wrong solution.

  33. I am a graphic design student. I designed a logo for a local nonprofit organization, and I posted the process on my facebook page. My client had some brilliant suggestions, and she had an idea of exactly what she wanted. I got some input from other design students on my page, and the result was positively thrilling. I am totally in favor of a collaborative and open process. This idea of a “reveal” strikes me as counter productive when open communication works so well. Am I simply naive?

  34. I agree for presenting the work first and wait to see if you are bang on or not… being confident about your work is good but it can help you check if you are over possessive about it. No harm in using your client as a bouncing board and offer to go back to drawing board if you feel client has a valid argument… learning has no full stops.

  35. I have learned my lesson the first time out on a design. I was introduced and asked to present me idea and then the design. Later I fund out my design was not selected, however my design was copied to a tee with one exception, my people were removed and replaced with stick people of all things! I learned a lot that day! Second learned lesson, no free ideas and group bidding! Keep up with the great articles.

  36. Realist Art Director says:

    Explaining your design process, thoughts, concepts and vision IS important. Any designer that comes to me with no backup of their work, I don’t trust. I’m going to ask, and ask… and then after that, ask. If they can’t backup their design work, I don’t want anything to do with posers and frauds.

  37. I really like revealing my designs or illustrations with little or no comments to start the meeting, it feels great when the client totally “gets it” without saying anything. Give the client time to peruse the design even if they are in total silent mode. .Always be prepared though, to backup your design rationale in the event they need a small boost to understand your point of view.

  38. Unless I scanned this thread too quickly and missed it, I do not recall reading any entries regarding presentation of a black and white version of the design, especially logos, symbols, or likewise, images which are expected to withstand the test of time. I was taught when delivering what is potentially a final result of iterations of design to present a black and white version, as well as the full color result.

    This also provides the customer a different perspective regarding his potential image desaturated into black, white and shades of gray. This also demonstrates to the customer the great lengths of detail the designer took to be sure each edge was crisp and edge curve smooth, discernable by even the slightest differences in shades of gray.

    Thank you for time and consideration …

    p.s. My response above to Dave Cearley at SEPTEMBER 22, 2012 AT 3:39 PMcontains a typo, which I have not discovered a manner to edit. In the last sentence of the middle paragraph, please consider the entry “spa’s” to be “psa’s,” or public service announcements.

    Wynne
    Wynnefields Creative
    Keller, TX

  39. Great article, very interesting. I completely agree, I always reveal first. The client knows what they like when they see it, no amount of explanation will change that. I think that revealing first makes a more focused meeting, you can discuss the elements of each design if needed.

  40. love it! some great points!

  41. Really enjoyed reading this and I totally agree. I try to let the design/logo/… speak for itself first, too.

  42. I agree with Preston. I am a new freelance designer. I was hoping to get that magic expression of excitement from my client when I revealed the logo, but I panicked when their faces looked disappointed with the design. I quickly pulled out my second choice, which was not embraced either. I re-designed the logo and got the magic expression from the client although I only propositioned specific components of the design.

    What I learned from this is that it is good to reveal the logo, but be ready to explain it. You see, although I did re-design the logo, I knew that the first one was better. I now know that I must be prepared to explain the logo design after revealing it because we have to sell our designs. The magic expressions are for the MOVIES! Most clients have to be sold, just the same as other professions, of which explanations are needed.

    I am happy now to reveal the design first, although I am sure I will meet another client who will want an explanation first.

    This subject was a very good one.

  43. Am fully agree , clients hired you just to get his work done and nothing matters to him ,just in time and you sometimes can’t make them understand whats your idea for your designs, if you reveal it then you are gone….. reveal your work when its completed and with new excitement !! like you have found a treasure for your client what he was looking for…

  44. Nice topic, and interesting too. I would like to study my client and other circumstances first before I reveal my design idea. However, I think its always better to give a glimpse of the design idea to get an initial reaction of the client.

  45. Justin Miller says:

    I try to make sure I hit everything we covered in the design brief, and I let clients see my roughs early so we can make adjustments and tweaks there. Usually by the time of presentation there are no surprises, because I let client know the process at the beginning rather than the end. I to show roughs and ideas that don’t work to clients because it shows there is no magic wand and poof! A final beautiful design.

  46. Yeah you are right .
    The client does not know the main procedure of designing and they only want their work at a time before we design we should reveal the design with a client it is honesty from their side.

  47. Hi Preston,

    I came across your article and found it very interesting. I would have to say that I agree and disagree.

    My design training taught me to give clients a brief background to the final design before presenting it in order to get clients in the right frame of mind and make the design personable. For example, mention the brand personality of the company, what it feels like to work at the company and the inspiration used to create the design etc.

    I would say the method of explaining first would be great to use when presenting to other creative thinkers, such as marketing managers and brand managers, as they would see the value of it and get excited about the design. However if the presentation is to the CEO, who has a financial background for instance, I would agree with you on the show first, explain later if needed method. It would all depend on the person you are presenting to.

    Thanks as always for your insightful articles!

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  1. [...] the original post: Why I never explain my designs before … – Graphic Design Blender This entry was posted in Graphic Design News by oscar. Bookmark the [...]

  2. [...] Why I never explain my designs before … – Graphic Design BlenderBy Preston D LeeI was curious of the order in which you present a logo… Do you lead with the logo, then discuss the “why”… Or discuss first, building up to the reveal? Today, I want to share my answer with all of you and then I want to hear what you have to …Graphic Design Blender [...]

  3. [...] Why I never explain my designs before revealing them to my client 09.07.12 / 32 comments [...]

  4. [...] Why I never explain my designs before revealing them to my client - As a designer, you’re making a terrible mistake by guiding them through your design process before showing them the design. [...]

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