This story is the one that changed many things in my career.
It was back in 2008 when I was starting a creative director career at Wokine. A client came to our agency to redesign their website. They came with classy lookbooks, photos and everything that would turn a designer's head on.
The client had an idea but it was a really bad one with old fashion content, ergonomics and design. It was frustrating because we had tons of cool ideas growing in our heads. At that point you have to take a few steps back and be strategic. After the presentation we decided to work on his "bad idea" against our recommendations, so he would see how bad it really was and drop it.
We worked hard on our main idea because we wanted to take time and impress the client. We were really proud and confident with the result. After that we started the other idea, the one the client wanted to see. It was bad. It wasn't supposed to be the chosen one.
We presented the 2 sets of designs. The bad idea first. He liked it... Well let's go the second round. He also liked our idea, but he was still preferring his first one.
After some discussion with his team, he sent us their choice and modifications. "Drop the second, we will go with the first, congrats to your team". No discussion. Period. The client drove the project like he wanted to, from strategy to design, and all of our recommendations were dropped along the way as if it was his job. When it launched online, the whole team in the agency was so upset by the result that we decided to remove our name from it, for the sake of future potential clients. It was sad.
The person working for the client that we dealt with has now left that company and we are currently working on a redesign with someone else using a different approach and things are going very well.
You have to trust in every inch and pixel you create. Discuss with your client, take time to educate them as to why this idea's bad to them. Never go straight into a bad design in order to highlight the good one and never do a design you are not comfortable with because the risk is that your reputation could take a real bad kicking.