How to hire a Graphic Design Agency.

Chances are, if you are reading this you googled about hiring designers: whether that was how to hire a graphic designer or what questions to ask when hiring a graphic designer or even how you engage a graphic design agency.

Here are Toast’s top tips and things to consider when shortlisting graphic design agencies:

In-house or outsource?

If you have a regular amount of design work that is needed week-in and week-out, you might want to hire a full-time graphic designer to support your team under your own roof.

It is very tempting to have a single on-demand designer who is dedicated to the work that you need, but depending on the nature of the work and the schedules you have, this may mean they are incredibly busy one week and not used at all next week.

If you decide to outsource, you might want to know how to hire a freelance graphic designer, as you then only have to pay for the time that you use them.

For many, this is a very convenient solution, although similarly to having your own designer workload may mean they can only deal with one project at a time and this may affect the delivery of the project.

If you decide to engage a graphic design agency, then you will need to be clear about what relationship you need or expect from them. For instance, if you are looking to call on them as and when you need them, you might want to consider a subscription model where you can pre-buy time or a more traditional retainer agreement.

Get the right skills and experience.

How do you know if your chosen graphic design partner has the skills and experience you require?

Every design agency can provide a presentation or creds deck that outlines everything from the who, what, and where to the why and reasons you should choose them.

The key is to delve a little deeper and challenge the narrative by asking about specific details of a project – who was the target audience, how successful was the project or could we talk to that client?

You might also want to ask who the specific designer was on that project, as large agencies may have a higher staff turnover, and the designer may not actually still work there!

Ask about the experience that the specific designers who will work on your projects have, and make sure that you don’t fall for a “bait and switch” scenario where you are romanced by senior designers & sales teams only to be placed with junior or graduate designers.

Some agencies are set up so you speak directly to designers; for others, you have to go through an account manager. Make sure you get the approach you expect and need.

If you employ someone or hire a freelance designer, their skill set will be quite fixed and not offer the breadth of skills that a larger agency can offer. This depth of service may also become an advantage, particularly if multiple projects need to be delivered at the same time. Again, it is important to truly understand the scope and scale of your potential needs when looking to get help.

Guardian angels of your brand.

An important part of any designer’s job is to consider the application of the brand identity and the implication of the current piece on your corporate identity.

It is essential that the designer you choose has a copy of your most up-to-date brand guidelines so that they can play their part as a brand guardian.

If the designer/agency has been involved in the creation of the brand, then they will have an even greater sense of the brand and will know when something is right or wrong. Because of this, whoever you choose, make sure they demonstrate a passion and capability to not only appreciate your brand but apply it consistently.

It’s a people thing.

There is another reason to meet and talk with the actual team you will be working with day in and day out, and that is to make sure you can work together.

Even if everything else is right, the skills, the availability, the cost – if you don’t get on, that is all for nothing.

Meet the team, know their names and get a feel for what it would be like to work with them. Anyone can be nice in a presentation, but if you have a last-minute job and you need your designer to pull out the stops and get you out of that hole – you need to know they will.

Design, in all its forms, can have some major technical challenges, but at the end of the day, it will still come down to people working with people and making sure you choose the right ones.

We’ve worked with Toast on both our rebranding and a new website and have been delighted, not only with the results but also with the ease and transparency of the process. Charlotte, Mark and Andy have been a pleasure to work with, providing great creativity, advice and expertise combined with patience and good humour. It’s fantastic to have such a great company on our doorstep and highly recommend them.

Deborah Watson, Marketing Manager

Why use Toast?

We’re an experienced agency. For over 25 years, Toast has worked with a diverse range of clients, designing everything from business cards to websites.

We do everything in-house; every project placed with Toast will be worked on by our fully employed design team.

  • No freelancers, so you work with the same people all the time
  • We get to know your brand, design framework and requirements
  • Experienced, qualified designers
  • Highly organised and used to working to tight deadlines and large-volume design work
  • 15 staff, so there is always someone on hand to help out
  • Established business – trading for over 25 years
Simon Browne

Simon Browne

Simon works on strategy, planning, content and SEO at Toast. An experienced copywriter and website content planner, he helps our clients get the best out of their copy and websites.