6 Reasons why Clients reject Designs

Supreet Raju
Supreet Raju
6 Reasons why Clients reject Designs

Struggling to get client approvals despite good designs ? Here are six reasons why Buyers might be rejecting your designs.


A designer's curse is to fall in love with their designs. You feel you made some amazing designs, nailed the buyer's requirement and the collection will be a sure-shot hit.

Alas, the client rejects all your ideas, leaving you quite confused and frankly, a little miffed. You spent hours on the project - and nothing to show for it. A simple "No, it's not what we are looking for" and your entire effort is shot down.

In a bustling season, design teams are constantly pumping out designs for buyer approvals. Deadline after deadline, there are piles of rejected designs you just file away. But why? Lets take a moment to introspect and explore 6 key reasons Buyers reject designs.

1. YOU DIDN'T DECODE THE MOODBOARD

Scenario : A buyer sends you a moodboard inspired by the Sahara desert. Your design team immediately creates a collection inspired by Saharan patterns. But the moodboard was largely focused on sand dunes & textures, not any patterns.

Status : Rejected

Reason : Many times, designers are too focused on their own vision and fail to read the room (or the moodboard in this case). Your designs are stunning and can work well BUT they are not suited to this particular brief.

The client has a specific requirement - and he is expecting designs in line with his shared vision. If he is a anticipating a Rainforest collection, it doesn't matter how beautiful your Green Plants collection is. Your design team must be capable of correctly decoding a moodboard to have a higher success rate.

2. YOU USED EXISTING INSPIRATION

Scenario : You received a Nautical Moodboard from your client with many images of Anchor motifs - on cushions, on upholstery etc. Based on this Moodboard, you come up with your own Anchor collection - because that's what the client loves, right ?

Status : Rejected

Reason : Products appearing in a Client's moodboard are clear indicators that the trend is already in motion & those patterns are already in the retail market. When a buyer sends you a Nautical moodboard, they are trying to express their interest in the style BUT now it is your job to take the theme forward.

Using existing motifs and existing patterns directly from the moodboard shows a lack of vision. The buyer has already seen those patterns in the original inspiration board - he is looking to see something new to excite him. While designing for moodboards featuring products, always be careful about not falling down the rabbit hole and re-designing what exists already.

Moodboard images are starting points, not ideas to copy

3. YOU ARE NOT ON-TREND

Scenario : You are due to exhibit at an international fair & have to create collections for display. Your junior designer loves flamingos so he designs a full collection inspired by them. At the fair, you proudly display the Flamingo series up-front but notice no buyer interest.

Status : Rejected

Reason : Collections cannot be designed as per personal taste. Every theme has to be backed by diligent research to validate them for the right season. Designs can be rejected if they are too early or too late to the market. While the flamingos may have looked lovely, the motif is considered passé by buyers in 2020.

Being on-trend is key to buyer selection. When using conversational motifs or strong color stories, you must be in tandem with the trend reports for order conversion. Get your design team to extensively research trends before developing any collection. If you source your trend boards from an agency, look to validate them by your own research.

4. YOU PRESENTED THE DESIGNS POORLY

Scenario : You outsourced a design collection to a senior freelancer who came up with a beautiful collection. He gave you the open file of the designs for your perusal. To present the designs, you asked your merchandiser to code the designs and lay them out in a PDF file for the buyer.

Status : Rejected

Reason : The designs were great, so what went wrong ? The Presentation.
Your merchandiser was not equipped or trained to design creative presentations. They may know Powerpoint well for marketing presentations, but design files cannot be treated in the same manner.  

How you visually present your designs matters much more than you think. Very good designs can also be completely ruined by poor presentation styles. The size of the design, placement, font selection, background color, flow of your collection slides - these elements are very critical to create the best impression on your buyer.

TIP : Access ready-to-use Templates from Texilist for your Buyer Presentations. Our templates are designed for specific themes to create the perfect background story for your designs. Click here to view our growing library.

5. YOU HAVE GOOD DESIGNS IN BAD COLORS

Scenario : Your design team made some elegant floral motifs for a Bedding collection. Your target market was Sweden, but no Swedish buyer warmed up to the purple and red color palette.

Status : Rejected

Reason : The buyer's brain sees color before pattern. He knows the difficulty in sales conversions when the colors don't appeal to the shopper. Good designs can be completely let down by poor color selection. It is very important for design teams to present color palettes that are commercially appealing to buyers, otherwise the design will always lose out.

When designing for a buyer/market, you must research your colors as extensively as you research for patterns. Even if you feel adventurous or want to try a new trending color, always have colorways in colors the buyer is more comfortable with. This gives you an option to experiment while retaining the order.

6. YOU IGNORED YOUR USP

Scenario : Your company specializes in watercolor motifs. You get a new buyer's brief for Autumn-Winter 2022 - Black & White citylife. You respond to the brief by trying a new Geometric style in color-blocking.

Status : Rejected

Reason : There could be two reasons for this rejection. One, the buyer came to you knowing your watercolor specialization. They were anticipating a watercolor collection inspired by citylife from you. Two, you went so far away from your comfort zone that it the discomfort showed in your designs.

It is completely okay to explore new design directions. You are not expected to sit in the box marked 'watercolor expert' forever. But while responding to briefs, you may want to focus on your USP that gets your orders. So for every experimentation in geometric color blocking, you can have a few pieces of your signature looks - and see what works for the buyer.

Getting rejected is part of the game. You won't have 100% approvals because design is largely subjective. What may be one's favorite could be another's last pick. As painful as buyer rejections are, if we can introspect and figure out where we go wrong - it will save a lot of time and energy for future projects.

Do you still feel clueless about why your designs are rejected? Or is there a seventh reason? We'd love to hear your thoughts at [email protected]


Cover Photo coutesy Steve Johnson
Pictures courtesy Designecologist, Stephane Yaich & Mina fc.



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