Design Deliberation by CobaltCow | Nathan Sarlow

A candid look at the world of design

5 tips for presenting your design concept

I have been presenting electronic design concepts for around 12 years now (which almost makes me a veteran of digital concepting I think). Back then I was using Paint Shop Pro and these days I rely heavily on Adobe Photoshop, but regardless of the software you use, once you have your end result there are a few things you’ll need to know when getting your artwork in front of the client.

These tips are just a few ways of taking that concept (that you’ve dedicated so many design hours & sleepless nights to perfecting) and presenting it to the client. Its hard to know for sure, but I would guarantee that I’ve ‘sold’ some of my logos predominantly on the way I presented it – and here’s some of my techniques and secrets.

1. Don’t bombard the client with options

I most cases, the client has come to you as the expert in developing their new identity. Although it’s common in Agency work, I recommend NOT sending a half a dozen concepts. Stick with presenting only your strongest 1 or 2 designs. If you feel a logo isn’t as strong as the others, keep it in a folder for yourself and focus on the ones with strength. Generally if I don’t feel that 1 is standing apart, then I need to work harder and come up with something that does.

2. Set the scene & solve a problem

Start by letting the client see that you understood their needs and designed something appropriate for them. Start out by recapping the main points of the project and what you tried to focus on, word the brief in a way that will mesh perfectly with what you are presenting to them.

Example: “As we discussed, XYZ Pear Company needs to have a bold new image, one that stands out from competitors and gives customers a feeling that the company is not only providing a great product, but that its fun and energetic.

You would then go on to explain each concept you’re presenting (separately) and include reasons why each concept not only fits the brief you opened with, but why each concept may have a strength over the others. Use the same words they used in the brief in your explanation.

3. Let it breathe

Let each logo demand the clients attention. I usually present a logo concept as a 900 x 900 pixel 100% quality jpg, and keep the logo itself in the center with at least 200px gap around it. This gives the logo a clean canvas with no distractions.

The background can be any color you want, but don’t clutter it with any design elements. Sometimes a slight gradient can help to set the logo off the page a little, but apart from that, a flat color should be used. Provide each logo design as a separate file so that each gets its own 10 seconds of glory.

You can provide alternates (maybe a B&W, 1 color or an in-context version) as small inlays (if space permits) or on a composite file, but if you can, keep your primary logo by itself.

Note: Although a PDF is going to retain the quality better, you don’t want to be giving anybody your vector artwork at this stage.

4. Solve the problem

Make sure your logo solves the brief. If you noted that the client wants a bold & energetic logo, make sure that’s what you’re presenting them. If they specifically asked for something and you made the decision NOT to include it, make sure you explain why you decide that it wasn’t appropriate, don’t just leave them thinking you were lazy or worse – that you didn’t listen.

Most of the time, the client will accept a decent reason for not including something, so make sure you know the answers before they ask. It’s in the words you say. Stay positive and excited about how you feel your design will benefit the client.

5. Never get offended or take offense to criticism

This is easier said than done and only gets easier with practice. As designers, we put our heart & soul into our work, and when it gets pulled apart we feel like our souls are being torn and left in pieces on the floor. BUT, just remember that the client is only thinking of themselves and their brand – not about your feelings. At the end of the day this is about the public image of THEIR company – hopefully for years to come, not about your portfolio.

Listen to what they have to say and try to work with them to make the changes they need rather than calling them names under your breath. Don’t make up excuses as to why you cant do things they ask, but feel free to explain why it may not be a good idea.

Well there’s my advice. Let me know what you think.

Categorised as: Branding, Logo Design


  1. James White says:

    Thanks, Very useful resource!!

  2. Monika Rohlwink says:

    Good evening, Nathan

    I lecture students in the Faculty of Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Cape Town, South Africa). They are 1st-year Interior Design students who need to practise giving presentations of their designs.
    Consequently, I have been looking for information online to add to my personal notes, and I came across your hints.
    Would you, please, allow me to use them as they complement my own notes well.
    Monika Rohlwink

  3. Sure Monika, not a problem. Glad you found it useful.
    Thanks for asking.

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