Why we work the way we do, Part 3: Sign off

What do we mean by ‘sign off’?

Well, when we work on something, we need to know that our clients are completely happy, or preferably delighted, with everything we’ve done. Their signature means we have their confirmation that they are ok for the world to see the work we’ve done; without it, the job’s just not finished. That includes the content as well as the design. We also need to know that a job bag and the final admin and invoicing associated with a project can be tidied up and closed down.

More importantly, it’s part of handing title of the artwork or website from us to our clients. This is the more serious reason too: Imagine we were working on a job for you that involved the printing of £10,000 worth of glossy brochures. And there was a typo inside – or worse, on the cover. It’s often the titles and headings that are most mistake-laden because everyone concentrates on the body text.

At this point, the question of who owns the title on a project becomes critical because the printer will expect to be paid regardless. He’s done nothing wrong, so there’s no reason not to pay him. If we have sent those brochures to print without your permission to do so (sign off), we’re responsible, so we have to pay him. If you’ve agreed that the job is good to go and signed it off, unfortunately, because it’s part of our terms and conditions, you’re still liable. That is why we ask everyone to check everything ever so carefully and only sign off when they are completely happy. If proofreading isn’t your bag, then please, please, please ask us or someone you know to proofread it. You’ll still be responsible at sign off, but you’ll be more comfortable with your signature on the paperwork.

We posted on our Facebook page an extreme example of nobody checking anything on an advert a couple of weeks ago and would like to state for the record, that we would NEVER allow such a poor piece to leave our desks. BUT, if the client had been ours and we had had sign off, we could have done so without any comeback (apart from a huge dent in our professional reputation and pride).

You may think it doesn’t happen, but we’ve seen many sets of Annual Reports and Accounts with an Erratum page. It’s pretty common to see spelling and grammar mistakes in websites, emails and documents these days. One of our favourites was a well known stationery company that appeared to be selling inanimate (stationary) objects. We’ve even picked up on a typo on a product label from one of the country’s most well-known consumer brands. That was probably in a batch of 30,000 or more and the consumer helpline was unaware of how long their proofreading fail had been on their bottles…

Our last blog post on deadlines relates to this. Often, mistakes are missed because there just isn’t time for another round of proofreading. Fresh eyes are necessary and the more time between the last two final checks, the better. If you are able to get a proof from the printer, then that’s even better…

So, when scheduling a job, please do make sure there’s enough time for enough people to look at the artwork properly and only sign it off when you are certain you are all happy there are no mistakes. We hate our clients to be unhappy and losing that sort of money is a surefire way of heading that way…

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