All designers work in different ways, therefore they tailor their contracts depending on their way of process. Some, have the impression that the contract is created in order to cover the client and the designer. Which is true, but in more detail, the contract, is tailored based on the designers’ way of working, their process, their needs and their rules are displayed in a contract to clear out the whole branding process from start to finish and let your client know all about it. Contracts should cover pretty much everything you can imagine. This is a very crucial part so think of every little detail.
Breaking down a contract;
Rights & Ownership
In rights and ownership, let your client know and commit that all the design work you are creating is exclusively for them, will not be replicated, and they will have all the rights to use their brand identity design as they wish. This is a commitment for you, that is protecting not only the client, but your work as well. In case of replication of your work by any other brand or designer, this contract proves that your work is original and belongs to your clients.
..One of my favourite parts right here, is setting up the base for the communication between you and your client. Think through all the parameters. Hours you can be reached, when you can be reached, delays, when your client should be getting back to you, skype calls, and preferable ways of communication. The more you analyse this part, the better you two will be on track of your project.
The communication way that works best for me, is via email. Skype dates can be scheduled, but there is only such little time in a day, and skype calls can get long. Very long! What i like even more, is that everything is written down for you to keep track of the conversation and be able to go back again and again. In addition, while writing down thoughts and feedback, your client gets to really think about what they truly want to see. Make them put some time and work on their feedback, you’ll see it will be the most accurate…
One of the biggest sections in your contract, that you should put a lot thought to. In this section, you will need to refer from methods of payment, to the waiting list, downpayment, when each payment needs to be made etc.
…What i’ve figured out works best and protects my work, is having a downpayment of 50% in order to reserve a spot in my waiting list, and then the final 50% payment happens at the beginning of the process. Some designers prefer having the final 50% at the very end before handing the final files and, that was something i tried for a while, until a few bad cases of clients disappearing on me…
…Think about the ways your clients could get a refund. What if they change their mind, what if they don’t like your work etc. All the worst case scenarios. If you are on a waiting list, consider also the fact that they are taking the spot of a project that you might could be working on…
Files & History
Lastly, i’ve included a section stating for how long you will be able to store your files, how long the dropbox link will be active (for the final files). Between you and me i’ve been keeping all my works for the past years. You never know what happens, and so it did. My hard rive broke in January, and i lost pretty much everything i had ever created. Some i had to redesign (can you even imagine that?) but for what it’s worth, i’m glad my contract states storing a year!
The final things that i include in the contract are the dates, project and price descriptions, names and signatures. It is super easy to sign your contracts with Adobe Acrobat and have a signature installed in, so prompt your clients to use it in order to avoid scanning or taking pictures.