New Discussion: A Pro-Bono No-Go! – part 2 of 3.

No Go 2

A few weeks after we delivered the pro-bono logo to the client he called us asking if we would add a tag line to the logo. The addition didn’t seem to be too complicated, so we added the text. Two days later he called again to say that he wasn’t sure that the lag line was the one he “really” wanted, and would we take that out and add three more variations that he was thinking about. We said that we would, but that for anything beyond these three variations we would be charging him at our normal rates.

Several weeks later he called us and said that he felt that the logo we developed for him was identical to another company’s logo. We researched the logo and found that their were some distant similarities, but the the designs were certainly different enough, and that he was comparing apples to bananas. People would not mistake one for the other – and, in addition, the companies were in totally different areas of the marketplace: one in consumer goods, and the other in social services.

We told the client that we had fulfilled our obligation, but that if he wanted us to do a new logo for him that we would be happy to take him on as a paying client. He refused and said that he would take his “business” elsewhere. I sent him the customary letter saying that since he hadn’t paid for the artwork – and that he wasn’t satisfied with it – that it needed to be returned to us – and that he was forbidden to use it, or any part of it on any of his materials.

Case closed – we thought, but there’s more…

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About Nate Marks

We live and work in a world of visual images.
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3 Responses to New Discussion: A Pro-Bono No-Go! – part 2 of 3.

  1. Now you have my interest.

    • Nate Marks says:

      Hey Jim,
      GREAT! Do you have any material that you would like to add to our discussion – such as an experience, or two?
      Nate

      • Some points I would like to make—pro bono comes from the legal term pro bono publico, “for the public good”. An attorney defending a client pro bono if their civil rights have been violated is in effect, defending civil liberties for the general public. No attorney is going to do you real estate closing pro bono. If a prospective client comes to me using the phrase pro bono I’ll be referring to it as a “freebie”. That’s what it is.
        My policy would be ‘No work without a contract’ the contract would state what would be no charge and at what point charges would start. Suppose you had a corner grocery store and you gave out coupons for a free quart of milk. The coupon would have terms and an expiration date. You don’t want to be giving out free quarts all the time. An expiration date on your logo freebie would let the client know there’s a time budget on design work.
        At an early stage I would take the time to describe the design process and emphasize that I’m not throwing away the process just because it’s not a paying job. I may go so far to say that because it’s a freebie, I get 100% creative control, take it or leave it.
        Designing a logo by itself shouldn’t be a full project. An identity design is the project and a minimal identity package is a business card, letterhead and envelope. That way the client isn’t left to his or her own devices when it comes to implementing the identity. Perhaps the logo design work would be free but the logo would not be a deliverable. The agreement could be that the client gets an account with your design firm and the logo is stored on his or her account; “This logo is in your file with us. Whenever you need a new application of this logo our design firm will open a job ticket and send an estimate form (contract) ready for you signature.” So you get return business. The alternative would be to negotiate a rights transfer of the trademark at market price.

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