Revisions, Redesigns and the Creative Process

01.31.2010 / Author: Steve Zelle

Revision and Redesign
I want my clients to know what they can expect throughout the process of developing their identity. I do this in part, by having a creative process in place, by quoting to provide a solution, rather than quoting by an hourly rate, by stating the number of rounds of revisions the client can make without incurring additional charges, and by indicating what those additional charges would be.

The topic of revisions is one of the more confusing aspects of any design project and possibly even more so when designing a logo. A great logo is usually a simple image in perfect balance, where nothing can be added or taken away without having a negative effect. Because of this delicate balance, small changes to the design can have a big impact. There are times when the goals of a project, and therefore the client, are better served by starting over, rather than changing and weakening a presented concept. It is a subjective decision that needs to be made by the designer and client every time revisions to a presented concept are requested. The difference between a revision and a redesign is open to interpretation, so it’s important to provide as much clarity as possible.

Here is how I mange revisions and redesigns.


Every request, no matter how small, is compared to the creative brief.

If the requested change has a negative effect on the project goals or on the integrity of the presented concept, I discuss the request with the client, referring to the creative brief for the rationale behind my opinion. This can sometimes result in a different revision to the presented concept that manages to improve the design. If the presented concept cannot be altered to incorporate the client’s requests and remain true to the creative brief, a redesign would be necessary.

If the requested change has the potential to improve on the presented concept, and reach the project’s goals, it is explored. This does not mean simply incorporating the requested revision, but exploring why it would improve things and determining if it is the most effective way to achieve this.

While I state in my contract the number of rounds of revisions a client can make, I am flexible as long as the process remains productive and I typically do not charge Author’s Alterations. Author’s Alterations (AA’s) are changes by the client to the design or content beyond the scope of the quote. They are typically charged by the hour and can have a minimum charge per set of requests.


I would love to say this has never happened to me, but it has, on very rare occasions. The best tool to sort out where things have gone wrong is the creative brief, developed and approved by the client and myself at the beginning of the project.

If the presented concept provides an appropriate solution to the creative problem outlined in the brief and the client wants a new design, a revised quotation is provided and the creative brief would have to be modified to reflect the changes in direction.

If the presented concepts don’t solve the creative problem outlined in the brief, I haven’t done my job and it’s back to the drawing board after discussing where things went wrong and clarifying the project goals.

What can clients do to reduce risk and clarify expectations?

They can get involved by investing resources in understanding the creative process, and the impact of the information they are being asked to provide. In addition clients should ask the designer:

  • What the designer considers to be revisions versus redesigns
  • What is the hourly AA charge?
  • Is there a minimum charge per set of requested revisions, and how is it calculated?
  • What are the average additional charges billed by the designer for the last six identity projects, and why?

What can designers do?

The subject of revisions and redesigns remains sensitive and subjective. Transparency in the creative process can help create reasonable expectations and build trust, resulting in a better and more cost effective solution.

Steve Zelle is a logo designer and consultant with over twenty years’ experience working with clients. Based in Ottawa, Canada, He operates as idApostle and is the founder of Processed Identity. You can reach him through his website or on Twitter.

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3 comments, please join in the discussion

  1. 02.05.2010

    What a great read! Love how you continue to refer to the ‘creative brief’ in the discussion and as part of the process- so important!! Wish there was a way for the client to better understand the creative process, that is a constant challenge and obstacle to overcome. The difference between revisions and redesigns is so key. Thanks, three minutes well spent! Time is money!

  2. Marcus Vinicius

    Awesome! Better text that I read about brand creative process. Thank you

  3. 02.07.2010

    Thank you! Great information! Having the creative brief as such an integral part of the process helps establish a pragmatic method when developing ideas in addition to being a guide for those ideas. Establishing a systematic process, vital to any business because of efficiencies, is often at odds with creatives. Most of the time we just want to hit the computer/sketch pad and create. Good stuff!