No More “Revisions”

No More “Revisions” - how flat rates & limited refinements changed the nature of my design business

Earlier this summer, my friends from Forefathers Group shared their manifesto on revisions. This post was a bold statement for their business, and struck a serious chord with me. Their perspective falls in line with a lot of my own beliefs on the subject, and I thought it was time to share those with you lovely people.

A few weeks ago, I shared some insight into my One Concept Approach to logo and brand design. Today, I'd like to share why I don't offer revisions—at least not in the traditional sense. But before I share my take, let's chat a bit more about the culture of revisions within design and the psychology behind them.

The Problem with Hourly Work & Revisions

Early in our careers, many brand designers start out by charging hourly for our work. I worked this way for years while I was getting established and honing my skills. I'd provide a range of how long I thought the project would take me, and this would be billed at a rate that was appropriate for my experience level. This seemed to work just fine, but in reality there are more than a few issues with working this way.

  1. The hourly range leaves the client feeling insecure not knowing the actual price tag for the project. This is where the trust factor takes a hit early on in the designer-client relationship.

  2. With hourly work, the value is put on the amount of time it takes the designer to do the work rather than the quality of the solutions created.

  3. A certain number of rounds or proofs often fit within an hourly estimate, but there's no real cap on revisions.

  4. These revisions often break the cardinal rule of brand design and shifts the focus to subjective changes that are more based on personal preferences of the client rather than what's in the best interest of the project.

  5. With no limit on the number of revisions, the process can quickly spiral out of control resulting in what feels like an endless cycle of tweaks. This leaves the designer feeling more like a puppet than a problem-solver, and the client feeling resentful that each new round brings a hit to their budget.

For all of these reasons, I moved away from charging hourly in favor of charging flat rates for my work. I also designed a much more thoughtfully structured and thorough brand design process to give me the information and time I need, while taking a new approach to revisions.

Endless Revisions vs. Limited Refinements

I believe there's a lot of power in language and the way we express ourselves. Revisions are no exception. To me, calling additional proofs within the process “revisions” has a negative connotation. It implies we've done something wrong—that we've missed the mark. Meanwhile, my process has so much research, discovery, and brand strategy built in at the beginning that this simply isn't possible. So the term “revisions” just isn't appropriate for what comes next.

“Refinement” tunes us into what's working & how we can make it even better.

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While I don't believe in calling them revisions, I'm also not going to claim that we hit it out of the park on the first try every time. Brand design—the way I see it—is a collaborative process. We discover and strategize as much as we can up front, but sometimes the first proof brings up new ideas and golden nuggets that can make the designs an even better fit and solution for the brand. That's not a bad thing—after all, I want to create the most stunningly strategic branding we can! That's why I offer up to 2 rounds of refinement instead.

Where “revision” focuses on what's wrong, “refinement” tunes us into what's working and how we can make it even better. It frames this part of the process in a positive light—as an evolution. And although I want the process to flow from a collaborative perspective, I'm dedicated to keeping the focus on solving the problem, appealing to those dream customers, and not getting into a cycle of tweaks that spirals out of control.

Allowing for up to 2 rounds of refinement ensures the extra exploration and breathing room we may need to truly nail the right solution. Granted, we may not end up needing them, but the client feels secure knowing they're available. Better yet, I build time for these refinements into the schedule so when they're not needed the schedule can move up a bit. Not only is the client thrilled with the solution, they're excited to get their designs even sooner so we can unleash their gorgeous new brand into the wild!