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We’ve probably all had the situation where the client doesn’t like any of the designs. It sucks when it happens and they are entitled to their opinion. I’ve shared content about this in the past and I have more planned for the future. But that isn’t what this article is about. Instead let’s look at the opposite problem.

Sometimes you rock the project so hard that the client wants to buy more than one of the designs you created. (I’ve had this happen with several types of projects, but most commonly with logo design work.) Seriously, they were gushing about the work and want to use a few of the designs for their business. One for the business relating to this project and another one for a different business they own.

You’re happy for the positive feedback but you’re torn. Your contract only planned for ONE final design. How should you handle the situation when the client wants to use more than one?

One Final Design Contract Clause

Whether it is written in your contract or not, “the industry standard” is to include one final design with your project (unless otherwise detailed in your agreement). Even though one final design is the standard, it is always a good idea to clarify it in your written contract. Something like the simple clause below will suffice (add it to your contract)…

Although we will show multiple design options in the early rounds of this project, through the design process, including client feedback, we will develop one final design for production and use by the client. The copyright for all designs that are not selected as the final design will remain with the designer.

How to Push Back on Your Client

With that clause in place you will be empowered to push back on your client when, because you are so freaking awesome of a designer, they desire to use more than the ONE design included in your agreement. Here is the script you can use to handle the situation with some diplomacy.

“We are thrilled that you love the work! We are so happy with how it all came together. As detailed in our contract, the project includes only one final design for you usage. If you would like to use more than one design, we can put together a budget for the design production of the extra work. Each of the designs will require production work to ___________.”

In the script’s empty space, briefly describe the production work necessary to execute on the additional design. This may include things like:

  • Finalizing a rough design to finished quality.
  • Creating vector version of a sketched logo.
  • Designing color usage for an initial “black and white” design.
  • Preparing a design for press (bleeds, safe area, CMYK image conversion etc.)

These ideas, along with any other production tasks necessary to execute on the final design should be paid for by your client. They can’t just have “two final designs for the labor price of one.”

If the client wants to proceed with additional designs, send them an addendum to your agreement. The addendum should include pricing and timeline to execute on the additional work.

Consider Ownership Rights

Legally the creator of a piece of artwork OWNS the copyright on the work UNTIL it is signed over to the client. At my agency, in most circumstances, I transferred ownership of the final design to the client AFTER full payment was made. In my mindset and contract, the client’s ownership of the ONE final design was included as part of the project fee.

If the client wants to use more than one of the designs you created in the process, you may consider adding a fee for “ownership rights” to transfer the copyright for the extra designs over to the client. This is most common with illustration, digital art and photography (and any other of the more “fine art” style services) but it could be considered for any type of design work depending on how you choose to run your business.

Production time and ownership rights are the two things to consider when your client wants to use a few of the designs you created. Admittedly, I never messed with the ownership rights side of this issue (it wasn’t a fit for the type of work we did and the clients we served), but I did add production time to finalize extra designs that the client wanted to use…and you should too.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.