The request is one now mocked by everyone in the design world. “Make the logo bigger” is an inside joke, a reference to a client change that is asked for any number of reasons, most of which are a bit silly, to be honest. Nevertheless, the request is made, and it allows me, the designer, to explain the design process and why we as designers often sigh, then steer the client to a better solution.
As your designer, it is my job to communicate through graphics to your customer or client base. My job is to instill ideas, feelings, and information. I want to do that job as best I can. For you.
A client’s job is to tell me what those ideas are. I may be asked for my opinion on what information is preferable (and since we’re discussing it: less! The fewer words the better), or if it should be styled differently, but it is not my job to tell a client to change his or her ideas, or to make those ideas “bigger.” Therefore part of my job is to decide what is placed where and how big it renders.
What a client says: “Make the logo (or something else) bigger.”
What a client means: “Make it bigger. Bigger is better.”
How I respond: “Hmm…what I hear is you want the logo to stand out more. Why?”
Most of the time clients don’t know why they want the logo to stand out more, they simply don’t want it to be missed by whomever is looking at their website or marketing collateral.
Which leads me to another question: is the goal of a website to be all about the logo, or is it something else? The purpose of having a website is to give users easy access to information about the company or organization and determine if the client’s company can help them. Graphic design isn’t for the company, it’s for customers. A logo is part of a brand and is important for recognition and establishing trust. But a logo isn’t meant to be the focal point of online or offline collateral. The point is always to get the customer to move their eyes, and to get to know the company. A huge logo will not help a customer learn to trust a business.
When a client says “Make the logo bigger,” he or she, probably unintentionally, is telling me how to do my job. The client hired me as their designer to make design decisions, to create something based solely on their ideas and mission, and to use my skills to execute that mission. The size, placement, and spacing around the logo is a design decision, made on behalf of user interface practices.
Most designers will politely ask clients why they want it bigger, and lead them to the conclusion drawn above: how is making the logo bigger going to improve the impact of the design? How is making this element larger, or having more “pop” (another common term) going to help your customer base? If making the element bigger doesn’t make a difference, why do it?
A few designers will do what the client asks, and make the logo bigger. They’ve done a huge disservice in doing so. A designer and client relationship is different than a retailer to customer relationship. Yes, I mean the idea that the “customer is always right” doesn’t apply. See, a client is enlisting the expertise and services of a professional. It is that professional’s responsibility (whether that professional be a designer, an attorney, accountant, or even a horse-riding instructor) to be honest and tell the client the best way to achieve their goals.
Design, because it’s a visual business tool, is scored differently than the fields listed above. But graphic design is not art. Art is subjective, design is not. Design is communication and often based on facts. For example, the color red stimulates appetite, where blue stiffens it. Think about that when you go shopping for groceries, and take notice of how many companies enlist the color red in their packaging. It’s not just Coca Cola. And when was the last time you walked into an eatery that was splashed with blue? How colors work together is important in art, but I doubt Van Gogh was thinking about suppressing your appetite when he painted The Starry Night.
Designers do think about how colors work together, how spacing elements elicit a certain response, and even how different fonts interact with each other to produce a certain mood. We put a lot of thought into the placement, size, and even what stands behind (if anything) your logo.