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The fear of change effect

I’m a graphic designer. That means, I get paid for creating something visual that is effective for people or companies (boosting sales for instance). When thinking of corporate design projects that shall companies give a new face or appearance, I encounter one phenomenon – the fear of change.

What happens? The concept of the corporate design as well as colours, typography and a few logo drafts are there. The client signs off on a logo draft and is happy with it. The rest of the corporate design (secondary style elements, principle of arrangement, maybe a manual) are in the works and all of a sudden it happens: Out of nowhere the client says „no, no, stop everything, it doesn’t work like that, it has to be different somehow“. Every client gets into that phase at one point in the course of developing a corporate design. I call this the fear of change effect. The client may be open-minded, young, old or whatever, that phenomenon just comes up. This phase is mostly very short, but intense.

Why does that happen? I guess, it has to do with the fundamental fear of change in all of us. New things are initially always bad because you have to invest time and energy to get used to them, you don’t know what to expect maybe. And nothing is as difficult to get rid of as old habits or the habit of an old (even though bad) design.

What can you do, if a satisfied client panics all of a sudden? I take the client’s hand and explain the concept again (even though we had already talked it through and it was agreed on). Then, everything is okay again, the client relaxes and knows „oh yes, that’s how it’s supposed to be“. So the client needs another confirmation that he really wants a new corporate design.

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