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I am the Graphics Designer and Coder of a small startup. We are designing the logo of the company and my boss wants to use a design he did in his college days.

From a professional point of view, the design is less than optimal and has wrong sorts of placement/color etc., but when I went to give my professional opinion he became defensive and was really angry!

I guess this is because of the emotional connection he has with the logo, but I fear that this will look bad on my resume and we might lose some clients for such an unattractive design.

What can I do? Should I persuade him or just let it be?

marked as duplicate by gnat, paparazzo, Mister Positive, HopelessN00b, WorkerWithoutACause Apr 11 '17 at 15:23

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    Not sure if English is your first language or there is some translation issue here - but if you spoke to your boss in similar tone to your question ("resume look shit" and "such an unnattractive design") it's no wonder he got defensive. You might be right, but it's how go about making your point that ends up winning. – HorusKol Apr 10 '17 at 12:51
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    Really the logo of the company you work for will make your resume look bad? – paparazzo Apr 10 '17 at 14:03
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    If your main concern is how this terrible logo will look in your portfolio going forward... Can you not simply exclude it from your portfolio? Your portfolio is a set of your best works, and I get that you want it to be as extensive as possible, but surely you don't HAVE TO include EVERYTHING? – Steve-O Apr 10 '17 at 14:57
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    Look and Feel type questions are very much opinion based. Sure there are some basic things, but in general a logo being good or bad is opinion based. Whose opinion matters most? – Mister Positive Apr 10 '17 at 16:06

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Your boss started a business. Since you feel this logo will factor into the decision making of potential clients, it must be a business that provides graphic design services in a significant way. I see three possibilities:

  1. Your boss is terrible at graphic design in general. The company is therefore doomed, and your worries about losing clients, looking bad on the resume and so on are all correct. Could you run the company better? In that case, don't tell your boss how to run the company he started, start one of your own. If not, go find a job with someone who is either better at graphic design or better at delegating to a talented professional (such as you.)

  2. Your boss is great at graphic design, but has a strange emotional connection to the college-era design. Relax. Startups pivot all the time, and in one of your upcoming pivots, you and your boss can make a new better logo. Focus on being great at your job and allow this little foible without worry.

  3. Graphic design is really not important to the business. You do some web pages and occasionally a logo, for people who don't know how to evaluate these things. You do good work but they can't even tell if it's good or not, and neither can your boss really. Relax, do good work, and don't fuss that the logo will hurt anyone. (Don't include it in your portfolio, though.)

I started a business, and I hired people to help me. When they were better than I was at a skill, I took their suggestions. But when I was better, we did things my way more often that not. If your boss has started a business doing something in which you have less experience, get used to letting that "double whammy" of "I have more experience" and "it's my company and I sign the cheques" settle most disagreements.

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    I think it's more of point 3 and I totally subscribe to your idea. I will just let it go and give him what he wants. Maybe it matters to me but not him or the clients as much as I think, so it works. – Jishan Apr 10 '17 at 16:09
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    +1 For one key bit of advice - if you don't like the logo don't include it in your resume! It's your resume after all - you don't have to include anything if it isn't good for your career. All prospective employers need to know is you worked for the company. If it comes up and they ask why the logo was so bad, you have an anecdote to share - just don't badmouth the company while doing so. That will be worse for you than anything you could include on your resume. – Zibbobz Apr 10 '17 at 19:39
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What can I do?

You should smooth things over with the boss if necessary and maybe set some ground rules for future interactions: "Boss, I'm sorry if I upset you about the logo. I totally get that it's your decision, and if you say this is the logo, then I'm on board. I'd like to always be able to give you my honest opinion about these things, and I figured that's why you hired me, but at the end of the day it's up to you."

Should I persuade him or just let it be?

From your description, this boss seems unlikely to be persuaded on this issue, at least right now, especially by you. Persuading him would mean making such a strong case that he comes around to see things your way, and the chances of that seem slim at best. Even if you could lay out your argument so convincingly that he'd have no choice but to agree, you might be forcing him to do something that he doesn't want to do, and that might lead to long term resentment. For that reason, I think it's best to let it go.

The logo is not going to look bad on your résumé — nobody will blame you for a logo that you didn't design or have the power to change. Maybe you'll lose clients, maybe you won't, but that's really the boss's problem to worry about.

Keep doing the best work you can. If the boss overrules you on every decision, then it might be time to look for work elsewhere, but if you like the job otherwise, just work around this roadblock.

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    Nice answer. Sort it with your boss, express it was your opinion and that ultimately it is his decision and you are on board. This logo won't appear in your portfolio if you don't want it to. You could even add your design and say it was a concept that wasn't chosen. If your company loses clients because of this, it won't be your fault. Maybe work alternatives on the "chosen" design, make the best of a bad situation? – Andrew Berry Apr 10 '17 at 14:13
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    Strongly agree that the logo will not look bad on your resume. Don't include it in your portfolio if you don't like it. No one will assume that you were responsible for the logo of every company you worked for. – wing-it Apr 10 '17 at 15:04
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This will keep coming up in your career. You are designing for your customers, not yourself. "Customers" includes your boss.

From time to time, they are going to give you instructions or select a design that is just plain ugly. As time goes on, you may find ways to be more diplomatic. Sometimes you'll be able to convince them to come around to your point of view.

But at the end of the day, you're designing for them, not for yourself. This is one of those times to let it go.

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You say you voiced your opinion, but did you show your boss any alternatives?

If you want to convince him to use another logo, invest some time in creating some choices for him to look at.

A regular piece of advice I see is "Don't go to your boss with a problem, go to them with a solution." Do this.

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    At this point, I'd probably suggest forgoing the "another logo" part of it. It sounds like he's pretty committed to his logo. Instead what I'd suggest is presenting him with a number of variants of his logo with the rough corners smoothed over. Don't try to remake the logo completely, but nudge it in the direction of better. e.g. Don't completely replace the green/orange color scheme with a blue/red one, but make a version with green and orange shades that go better together. -- You want to present him with something that's definitely "his" logo, but improved. – R.M. Apr 10 '17 at 15:51
  • I would agree with this sentiment, but I didn't want to suggest this route and imply it was the best direction to go. Improving the current logo could be as simple as a color change or other tweak, but I think what is important is that the OP shows the boss that he/she is willing to invest their time as well. – Eric Apr 10 '17 at 15:58
  • I actually showed him 3 possible designs and he somehow always found out ways to come back to the original one. Thus I was exasperated at a point of time! – Jishan Apr 10 '17 at 19:49
  • That's a good start, but you have to combat years of romantic thinking on the part of your boss. If he created this logo in college, he has probably spent many nights dreaming about his business and this logo being right on the front of the building/website. To put things into perspective, at my previous job, the VP of software development wanted to update the company's logo to something less specific to the region so our graphic artist made several logos (10+), he subbed out the redesign to freelancers and I also pitched a couple redesigns. He settled on a generic globe logo. – Eric Apr 10 '17 at 20:20
  • The point of that last bit is this: you can't always win, but you can keep trying. If nothing else, you got plenty of practice making logos and trying to please a customer that wouldn't budge, which you will surely encounter again in your career. – Eric Apr 10 '17 at 20:22
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As the boss, your employer has the final say on how to present the company to the world. If he/she prefers the design you believe to be inferior, the decision is out of your hands.

That said, if you really believe the design has significant flaws, you ought to have a more objective explanation as to why. "Unattractive" is to some extent a subjective evaluation, as evidenced by the fact that your boss seems to like it.

You mention that there is poor placement/color. In my mind these are things that you ought to be able to change without fundamentally altering the design. One option would be to offer some minor tweaks, perhaps changing the hue of certain colors or slight rearrangement to address the problems you see. This will allow your employer to keep the core design, which he seems to have an emotional attachment to, while still satisfying your standards.

Additionally, you should consider to what extent this will actually affect business. Your fears that you might lose clients will sound somewhat hyperbolic to a layperson, so if you want to make that argument, you ought to have some sort of evidence to back up your assertion that that is a risk.

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    +1 for the suggestion to tweak the logo. In my experience, a big part of the job as a graphic designer is to take your boss's bad ideas and make them look at least semi-professional. – wing-it Apr 10 '17 at 15:06
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You might have now burnt the bridge - but you could see if there is any possibility of adaptation on the original without completely removing the original design. Your boss might be (or have been) more agreeable if you brought variations rather than criticisms.

However, this may just be a case of swallowing your pride and letting your boss have his way.

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I thought maybe the opposing perspective may help. I'm a CEO & Founder of a successful small business AND I just so happened to design my own logo. It was very personal and connected to my ego, core beliefs and self perception. I would certainly consider technical(not fundamental) improvements if suggested or delivered tactfully but tread carefully. Granted, PR & Marketing matter(in some companies more than others) but in the end, the company and by extension the logo is a part of me and I didn't start a company to make everyone else happy, that is why it's My logo and not the critics logo on the building.

As you can see, just in explaining this position I felt and conveyed to you some hostility because I felt empathy for your boss's position. Now, maybe this isn't the case and your boss just got out an old dusty design from his youth because he didn't like the generic building block design from 1992 and he needed something to put on the stationary, but my guess is that this is not the case.

Bottom line, it's great that you're taking such a proactive approach but if the Boss decides to put a purple asparagus riding a pea green yak on the logo, who cares! Is the logo going to cost the company money (based on what evidence)? Does the company turn a profit? Do you personally have a promising and lucrative future? Forget the small stuff, embrace the asparagus & cash the check that he wrote you!

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I don't want to over-simplify, but he's the boss, you just go with what he says. When you're the boss, people go with what you say.

I'm not trying to be pithy, just you need to think about who's paying who, and if you really think it's professionally damaging to you then you need to move, but it sounds more like you disagree with him and don't want to accept is logo (ignoring whether or not you're right)

You've offered your advice and he's ignored it, you dont need to do more than that. Also, what you've said will have had an effect, you just need to wait now and not push it, and you may find he comes round all by himself. Pushing will make him resist.

Are your reasons of losing business and looking bad on your resume really realistic or do you think you're business-justifying the fact you think his logo's bad?

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Take his logo, make it awesome by adjusting colors or whatever you think is wrong and show it to him.

All company logos go through that process and improve with time or adjust to current trends. Maybe show him the improvements individually instead of the final version, so he can pick some of them in this round.

Just treat your boss like any of your customers with a (in your opninion!) bad idea and make the best out of it.

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but I fear that this will look bad on my resume and we might lose some clients for such an unattractive design.

Why would your resume include a logo you didn't design? Focus on the things you did build and somehow mention you worked with an existing logo design.

You need to learn how to tell people they're wrong without telling them they're wrong. Ask your boss to "sell" you on his logo. Don't do this by asking directly, but formulate questions to understand what the purpose of the logo is for the company. Your boss may be under the impression that the logo isn't going to make or break the company, so why not just use his since he likes it.

Does it appeal to the target market? Have you even identified what that is? I'm no expert in this area, so it is important that you identify the final outcome and then work with clients on connecting their vision with what they hope to accomplish. Show them a disconnect between their color scheme and what we know about the affects of color on people, then you've given them information to make an informed decision.

This may come across as being challenging to him, but you may want to do some A/B testing with several variations of his logo. See if some of the changes you would suggest actually matter. There's a big difference between what should work and what doesn't.

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