5 Steps to Deal with Client Design Revision Requests

designer looking at multiple design revision briefs

Working as a graphic designer has its ups and downs. You may be proud of the great logo design you were able to come up with, but the client doesn't like it. As an inexperienced freelancer, if there's one thing that'll scare you, it's a client design revision request.

When dealing with clients it can be a joy to see everything go your way. However, that's the ideal situation and not every client is going to accept your first concept. So, how do you deal with revision requests in a way that makes the client happy and refer you to further clients?

Here are 5 things to do when a client requests a graphic design revision on your first logo concept.

1. Acknowledge Their Request

When your client requests changes they're looking for something specific. Many times clients wouldn't know how to exactly communicate the changes they need to be done which may lead to some vague comments like, 

"I think it looks a bit odd" or "Could you make it look more trendy?" 

You might get a bit frustrated by this especially if it's your first project. But, try not to be defensive or start explaining yourself or tell them why you chose a certain color. 

First and foremost you have to acknowledge their request. Make them feel listened to and don't push them to like something they aren't "vibing" with - even if it may be the best fit for their brand, according to you. 

If you become defensive and start arguing with them it would feel as if you don't value their opinion. This makes you look arrogant although that is certainly not your intention. The best way to approach this is by putting your emotions at bay, listening to their request, and giving a professional yet polite reply. 

Here's an example, 

"I understand the design isn't to your liking, we can go through it again and revise it to meet your needs exactly."

A bit too formal for my taste but try to match the client's energy or write whatever seems suitable to your situation. But, the above should give you a good general idea. 

2. Identify Their Exact Needs

You've acknowledged their request however you can't do much with it yet. The request that they made may be pretty vague (not always the case, especially with more upmarket clients) so you'll need some more detail. 

Beginners tend to overthink this and hesitate to do the obvious. The most sensible thing to do is just ask the client what they like and don't like. As a beginner, you might think that the client would see you as incompetent or that you don't understand the assignment and would cancel the order. 

In reality, this is far from true. Ask any professional graphic designer and they'll tell you to ask your clients a lot of questions. This helps them understand the client's needs and interests which enables them to accurately pinpoint their pain points and effectively solve their problem.

Here's what you could say:

"Could you kindly elaborate what exactly you don't like about the design? Do you feel it doesn't work for your brand or don't think it suits your style? Some more information would be helpful and make me better understand what you’re exactly looking for."

3. Highlight Important Points

Once you have a good list of answers to your questions, it's time to start working on them. You might have talked to your client about the changes either in text or the client might have sent you a doc with the revised changes.

Either way, the first thing you need to do is copy/paste the whole brief onto a manageable notepad. You'll be constantly referring to this as you make the changes.

Now that you have the whole brief in a notepad, highlight the important points or make a bullet list of the required revisions. Do this by reading the brief thoroughly and looking for specific details the client mentions that directly impact your design.

Here’s an example of a brief:

“The colors you used are nice but I don’t think the overall symbol goes with our brand. See, I run a martial-arts dojo for kids but this looks way too dark and serious for kids. We want the logo to be something that presents our training as fun but at the same time equip children with proper self-defense so they can stand up for themselves.”

I’ve highlighted the main points from the brief above. In this example, we can tell that the original concept was too serious for kids and that the client is looking for a logo that suggests emotions like “fun”.

From this, we understand that we need to switch up the logo’s overall message and make it more appealing to children/parents - our target audience.

4. Don't Repeat Same Mistakes

When you’ve extracted the main concerns of the client from the brief it’s crucial that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again. If you do it will leave a dent in your relationship with the client as they would feel you just don’t listen to their needs. It’s no surprise that doing so will also make you look unprofessional as you’re not putting the client’s needs as a priority and rather just doing what looks good to you.

When redesigning the initial concept, you need to constantly refer to the main points of concern. Make sure you rule out all the stuff the client liked at first. Taking our example from the last point we know that the client liked the colors - which means you shouldn’t play around with the colors and leave them as it is.

Next, identify the things the client didn’t like. Firstly you can remove things that the client clearly states they don’t want. Then you go ahead and make changes to the other things they don’t like such as the shape, idea, alignment, etc.

Also, remember to keep in mind the client’s suggestions. Sometimes us designers like to get into the technical aspect of things when the clients are telling us exactly what they want. 

The famous graphic designer Michael Bierut also gives great advice to beginners. He also tells not to avoid the obvious solution, stating in a 2005 article,

“Does anyone devote as much energy to avoiding simple, sensible solutions as the modern graphic designer?”

So, make sure to include all the changes and then proofread the brief to see if you missed anything. Once you’re sure it’s time to submit the revised design.

5. Submit The Revised Design

Finally, once you’ve done everything you have to submit the revised design. The essence of good customer service is that you comply with the client even if you think their suggestions would do more harm than good to their brand.

To convey your expertise it is important you express your concerns about the suggestions they made. Remember to convey this politely to them and clearly explain why you think their suggestion may not work - if that’s the case.

If you and your client are okay with everything, go ahead and press that Send button.

Wrapping Up

That’s it! By now you should know how to professionally deal with client design revision requests. Getting criticized for your work may be difficult to deal with especially if you’re a beginner. But, knowing how to professionally deal with feedback and acting upon it is an essential skill that will help you in your graphic design career.