How to prove to your clients that your designs are awesome
(And, like, require zero revisions but #alltheapproval from them.)


Hold my hand. Take a breath. And let’s take an imaginary day trip back in time to your school days. You’re there, bright-eyed and optimistic, handing in your math homework to Mrs Roberts, the dragon lady responsible for weaning you off your calculator. 

Flash forward a day later and she’s slapping your homework onto your desk with 
that look on her face. 


The look that says, “Are you fricken kidding me, kid?”

So you glance down at your homework, cringing at her red, angry comments with, 
“SHOW YOUR WORK!!!” and “Yes, but how did you get this answer?”


But you roll your eyes because, Jesus, wasn’t getting the answer right enough for her? 
Stop riding my arse, Mrs Roberts. 

Well. 

Lady, it’s time to thank Mrs Roberts, because that dragon was actually setting you up for successful designer life. 

I know, I know. She’s the last person you want to thank right now. 
But … you really should.

Have you ever sent off a design concept to a client and just hoped and prayed they understood why you designed their concept the way you did and they approve it no questions asked?

Yep, we all have but that rarely happens.
‘Cause you gotta show your work.

And the truth is that learning how to “show your work” as a designer means …

  • Your clients are convinced of the clever thought and strategy that went into your designs.
  • You receive fewer – and even NO – revisions (which saves you time and energy!)
  • You get happier, better educated clients who fully appreciate your genius.

While NOT showing your work means …

  • Your clients don’t get your designs.
  • You lose precious time and sanity as you’re bogged down by repeated revisions requests.
  • Your clients don’t enjoy or appreciate their experience with you

Clients cannot read your mind. They don’t understand how some fonts exude the feeling of calm while others feel bold and harsh. They have no understanding of colour psychology or space and texture – that is your job. 

And if you do not show your work and explain how you got there, you will have questions and feedback and changes and that makes life tedious for everyone. 

It is up to you to explain to them why this concept is perfect for their business. 

So how do you do that?
Well, let me explain and show you how!

HOW TO SHOW YOUR WORK 

Explain your design philosophy in relation to their brief.
Okay, so I know you’re probably worrying right now, “But, Anna, what if I don’t have a design philosophy behind a design concept? What if I’ve just done it?”

I get it. I’m the same. When I’m designing a concept, I don’t think about the details too much, I just do it.
 
BUT. That’s not because the details don’t matter, it’s because designing is my talent and it’s an extension of who I am.
 
You and me, we design intuitively because we know our shit. And you know what colours, shapes, fonts and images will evoke a sense of the, “calm, soothing, fresh vibes” your client is searching for.
 
Here’s the thing though: Your client is not a design expert. They can’t look at their design concept and intuitively know what you did. And since you want them to love your concept as much as you do, you have to break it down for them … using the words they included in their brief.
 
For example, if they wanted a “clean, modern feel” use those exact words when explaining your design to reinforce the fact you are giving them what they asked for.
 
The things you should explain are:
  • Font choice
  • Colour choice
  • Imagery
  • Icon meaning
  • Spacing


There’s are a couple of ways you can explain your work. 

1. Make a video using LOOM that talks your client through their design. 
Loom is a free video recording extension that records your screen and voice. So the way it would work is you open up the pdf on your screen and then talk through it explaining all of the elements as above. Don’t make it too long, under five mins is good and clients love this! It makes them feel like you are going above and beyond for them and you don’t even have to put a bra on because they don’t see you – just hear your voice.

2. Create a written explanation to send over with concepts. 
If writing is your jam, this will be easy for you. Once again, don’t forget to include actual excerpts from their initial brief and perhaps some inspo imagery they referenced throughout. Also get creative, you could create an infographic with their core brand elements. All of this detail and effort will pay off when your client becomes a raving fan and replies with: APPROVED! NO CHANGES!

Include additional design elements
A lot of clients come to us wanting to explain everything they do in their logo, however as designers we know that a logo is just one piece of the brand puzzle and should be kept simple and timeless. So the way that I have explained that to my clients in the past is to include some additional design elements of what would work with the concept I am sending. 

The types of additional design elements I include are:

  • Colour palette
  • Stock images
  • Patterns
  • Textures

Here’s an example: 

 

By doing this your client will understand that their brand is a story made up of lots of cohesive elements there for the logo doesn’t need to include EVERYTHING. 

Fuel their feedback.
Now that you have explained everything and given them a sneak peak of their overall brand vision, do not just leave it up to them to give you any feedback they like. 

This. Is. A. Recipe. For. Disaster. 

Some people just simply don’t know how to explain themselves!
I remember once a client said to me, “Oh no none of the concepts are right.”

Which made me hyperventilate. But when I spoke to her, she explained that they were 90% there, she just needed some minor tweaks. 

Crisis averted. 

So it is your job to give your clients an indicator of the kind of feedback that is useful to the process. 

For example, you can create a form or email template with some prompts like:

  • Which concept were you drawn to straight away? How did it make you feel?
  • Are there any elements of one concept you like that could be combined with another?


Then, remind them to be SPECIFIC. 
Saying something like, “I don’t like the colours” tells you sweet FA. 


But when your client tells you that they want to swap the aqua blue for a marine green, then bingo. You know what to do. 

This might seem like such small things to worry about, but trust me, it makes your life a million times easier later. 

So thank Mrs Roberts (and, okay, I’ll take some credit too now) and remember: 
SHOW YOUR BLOODY WORK. 


All the love,
Anna xo

ps. Wanna use my brain to help create your dream design biz? Awesome! 
Check out all the details here & book in a free 15 min chat with me.