Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Just Give Them the Monkey

Even when the client wants a logo with a monkey, and every fiber of your soul rejects the concept, a lesson in customer service reminds us to just give them the monkey.

Recently, a designer of mine was working with a client who wanted a new logo for a technology forum. This particular client, like many other tech-savvy people I know, is unfathomably enamored with the Google Android icon, and predictably, wanted a logo that “looked like that”, but maybe “more like a monkey”.

Being the creative director, and assuming my brain only shits gold, I steered the designer away from that idea and launched into a multi-round design fray designing a logo that looked like anything but Android or a monkey. My designer’s ideas were clever, colorful, metaphorical, painstakingly rendered, extensible to the brand. He presented them with pride, knowing he had my back.

From the client: radio silence.

The designer followed up, asked for another meeting, offered to create alternative ideas or show how our logo could be adapted. He tweaked it, agonized over it, showed our design team more comps and sketches. Pride beget frustration beget apathy. We didn’t know how quite to proceed.

Weeks later, an e-mail from the client. In it, he attached several images of cartoon monkeys, and asked if the logo could be more like that. Like a clock winding backward, apathy beget frustration, and then, sighful resolution.

We scrapped everything, and my designer went back and designed a logo with a monkey that looks vaguely like the Android thing.

Lessons learned:

  • My brain does not shit gold.
  • My designers are awesome.
  • Just give them the monkey.

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commentary + criticism


wrote the following on Friday June 3, 2011

Fantastic! I think I will use this quote from now on.
‘Just give them the monkey’ !
It’s a pity, but after a while you realize that it doesnt matter how awesome and creative your design is… if the client wants something, they just want ‘that something’ (ie the fucking Monkey).
So… maybe it’s better not wasting so much time in this kind of project, with this type of client?
Or should we keep fighting for our ideas and prove they are wrong, and the Monkey is not the best solution?

Well.. thoughts for the weekend!


wrote the following on Friday June 3, 2011

I actually lol’d at the part about how he sent you pictures of monkeys, like you guys didn’t know what one looked like.


wrote the following on Friday June 3, 2011

This reminds me of my favourite quote:

My rates are:
£50 per hour
£75 if you watch
£100 if you help.

Optimise Web

wrote the following on Sunday June 5, 2011

That is a great story. I recently had a similar experience with a wave and ‘can we have a fish jumping out of the wave’. I too relented and gave them the fish. Against my better judgement – lol.


wrote the following on Friday June 10, 2011

I have found that this sort of thing happens alot.

No matter how many years experience you have, or the fact that the client came to you for your professional opinion, they always want to feel like it was their brain child, and they achieve this by coming up with some of the dumbest ideas ever, and expecting us to say “ wow, that is the most amazing thing in the world, tell me more Jedi Master, can I stroke your ego more now please…”

When I started in the industry it felt as if the clients were deliberately trying to murder my inner child. But as I went along, I learn’t not to be too precious over my work and eventually resigned to just give them what they want.

I makes the client happy. And happy clients are paying clients who come back.


wrote the following on Friday June 24, 2011

well all the same, true, sometimes come across customers who just want to be like at all – it’s not original, but it’s instinct – to be like everyone else

Lou Pardi

wrote the following on Tuesday April 24, 2012

I love this post. I comeback to it every couple of months. Applies to copywriting, campaign and content creation, so, so many things (sadly).