What To Do With An Indecisive Client

rockOver the course of my career I have had many client experiences and I can offer advice about many design issues.  There is one situation that I run into on occasion that tends to stump me.

What do you do when you have a client who doesn’t know what they want? They are perfectly pleasant and professional, but when presented with design options, after filling out a design brief and then meeting about the project they say something to the effect of:

“I appreciate all the hard work you are doing, but the first couple of logo designs aren’t really working for us. The third design is closer, but we are still not sure about it. We wish we could give you a bit more guidance about what it is that we are looking for, but we are just not sure what it is we want. We think that it’s important for everyone to love the logo and truly connect with it, but we are not exactly sure what we can do to make it happen.  Please let us know what we can  do to help the process.”

Basically I am hearing I want you to bring me a rock. I’m not sure what kind of rock, or what size, shape and color. I’ll know it when I see it. Now go fetch a rock, and keep bringing me rocks until you get just the right one.

As a professional designer I am hired to solve a specific problem and help guide the client toward the best solution, that they themselves might not have known they wanted. Clients rarely come to me with a fully baked idea. Part of my job is to gather enough information from them about the project to create a solid solution. Something that not only works for the client, but communicates effectively to their target audience as well.

My issue with all of this really is about the bottom line. Time is money, and this job is being done on spec. At a certain point I am in the red on this one. Part of me wants to cut the client loose, and part of me knows that in tough economic times that isn’t a smart business move. So the question is how do I effectively tell the client that they need to trust me and go with my suggestion for the best design solution. How do I convince them that decisions by committee will only dilute the end result.