I rediscovered how powerful sketches are when working on a logo design for a new apartment community several years ago.
Even though rough sketches have always played a huge part of my logo design process, I rarely showed clients these rough little beginnings. I always felt they were too raw. So I did what a lot of designers do and took the best ideas and cleaned them up, recreating them on computer, and selected the top ones for final presentation. This particular client, however, appreciated these little sketches. Even though she liked the designs I had presented, she felt there was something missing. She was looking for a more relaxed and casual feeling.
Turns out the chair with the attitude was hidden in the original sketches and once she saw it, she loved it.
I had used a chair in one of the original logos I had presented, but had refined it too much and lost what was special about the original sketch. So I recreated the chair being careful to keep the loose style of the original. I also did custom calligraphy for the name so that it matched the loose writing style of the original sketch. It was a lot more work but definitely worth it. The logo design won an Addy in the local competition but more importantly, the client was thrilled with how it reflected the feeling of their unique apartment community. They actually sold the community a few years later and felt that the value of their property was greatly enhanced by the branding that we did for the community.
Big take away from this experience is that collaborative client relationships can push us to do our best work. And never underestimate the power of rough sketches.