The Myth of “Unlimited” Design Revisions
Alas, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is
Ooooh – unlimited revisions. Clients and designers are always asking us about this one. Gotta admit – impressive stuff in a red starburst. And we certainly couldn’t offer unlimited revisions without sinking our company. And at a flat rate too. How is this frikkin’ possible? Answer – it ain’t. Speaking bluntly, ‘unlimited revisions’ on a logo design project is a goofy concept, impossible to maintain, and the use of these two words is designed to do one thing, and one thing only. Separate design buyers from their cash. Firstly, it shouldn’t take ‘unlimited’ revisions to arrive at a great logo. A designer worth their sand should be able to hone in on an effective logo within a few revision cycles. After all – the preliminary concepts were initially worked up with target market and business philosophies in mind (in the case of the online ‘unlimited revision’ dudes I wonder if they were).
Anything else is just Visual Spam – throw enough designs at the project in the hope something, anything, ‘FOR THE LOVE OF GAWD! PLEASE PICK ONE” will stick. The same was said about monkeys and Shakespeare (it’s not true by the way). And just like monkeys and The Bard, the ‘Unlimited Revisions’ promise is impossible to keep.
Testing the premise.
Here’s a fun test – order a logo from one of these online companies, and request, nay demand, that your work-in-progress logo to be previewed in one million color combinations (alright, let’s be more reasonable – ten thousand color combinations) within the three day turnaround schedule. Ten thousand is not even ‘unlimited’. Unlimited is, well, unlimited. And if the answer is anything other than “yes”, then the service is NOT really offering unlimited revisions.
There is a limit. We’re not sure where it is. But it is there.
Simply put – when companies promise you ‘unlimited revisions’ on ANY design project they are lying. Flat. Out. Full. Throttle. Lying. Kinda shake your confidence in their entire design process, huh? Simply put, nobody can truly offer ‘unlimited revisions’ with any ‘flat rate’ design project (unless on billable hours and in that case, the more the merrier). Any single project risks bankrupting the studio. Great-grandchildren could still be working on this logo design project. It’s a variation of the real-world ‘lifetime guarantee’. Who’s lifetime? The customer? Or the company’s?
What it actually means.
So what’s the skinny on all this unlimited revision stuff? Donning my detective cap, I went under cover – answering a freelance job posting from a leading logo design firm, (posted on a graphic design forum), to find out. After jumping through some hurdles (and actually getting the job!), I had an online chat exchange with the company owner to find out the real deal on their services:
Them: Our freelance designers are responsible for the entire project.
Me: That doesn’t make much sense. You’re paying me a flat rate for my design work, but your web site advertises ‘unlimited revision’s. How can I commit to unlimited revisions for flat rate?
Them: Don’t worry about that. If the client has not approved a design in 2 or 3 revision cycles, we cancel the project and refund their money (Ed – minus the service charge).
Me: Isn’t that a little dishonest?
Them: We have been around for a while, and that is how we do business. If you are not comfortable with that, maybe this job is not for you.
Me: You’re probably right.
We’ll be charitable and call this marketing ‘hype’ – we wouldn’t want to call anyone liars or anything.