Choose the design agency that suits the company you are going to be and the results will speak for themselves.
Choosing the right design agency is business critical and should be approached in the same way that any significant investment in your company’s growth is, carefully and methodically. We have put together our top 10 benefits of finding exactly the right fit from day one:
- Two heads (or more) are better than one
- Build relationships
- Better Bandwidth
- Greater Creativity
- Increased Flexibility
- Broader Experience
- Scalable Resources
- Comprehensive Communication
- Brand guardianship
- Goldilocks Zone
Creativity cannot live in a vacuum, so the more creative people you have in one place, the greater the chance for creative discussion and growth. So naturally, larger design agencies will have a higher concentration of creative staff than smaller agencies or freelancers. However, some of the largest agencies may not have the same ability to share creativity due to their complex structure.
Look for creative teams instead of creative individuals.
The one thing that is true, whatever the size of the design agency, is that “People work with People” and the importance of this relationship is key to great results. Interpersonal chemistry between clients and their designers should be encouraged but may be challenged by the introduction of account managers or other roles. If you feel like there is a disconnect between you and the designer, it will almost definitely be reflected in the work.
Look for people that you can work with day in and day out.
Life would be great if we only had to deal with one challenge at a time, but all too often in this world, we find that everything is urgent and needed ASAP! Especially with marketing campaigns that have a specific launch date that requires adverts, landing pages, social media and printed materials all to be ready to go, smaller agencies may struggle with workload and delivery. You need an agency that can deliver all of these items whilst maintaining brand consistency and quality.
Check out the list of design services available.
Greater creativity is the result of a creative environment where ideas and concepts are discussed and challenged, where the latest developments in software and training can be applied and the freedom to express various viewpoints is guaranteed. Smaller agencies may not have the capacity for this growth and may suffer from diminishing creative returns.
Judge creative work after knowing who the target user is and not on personal taste.
The freedom to be creative and explore new ways of expressing ideas leads to a creative team that has a host of different skills, from illustration and typography to digital media and the latest in technology. This willingness to embrace new ways of communication instantly broadens the creative possibilities for clients.
Look for a breadth of visual output and avoid agencies with a ‘house style’.
To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail – you want your designers to see your challenges as they are and not how they would like them to be. Smaller agencies may stick with what they know and deliver less creative solutions that are possible. You need to have an agency that is large enough and experienced in a whole range of industries to be able to treat every project as a unique challenge and not presume a solution before knowing the challenge.
Look for the results of work completed and ask about impacts.
Plan for growth and choose an agency that has the ability to deliver the projects you’ll need in 2 or 5 years as well as the here and now. A larger agency can deliver a service that fits your needs as you grow and does not limit your potential growth. Look for agencies that have a flexible approach to charges and offer subscription design services, one-off quotes or retainers as you know you will never outgrow their capabilities.
Check to see if their payment options suit your needs.
Don’t let your great creative challenges get lost in translation. Make sure you have a design agency that has tried and tested communication practices that include a blend of face-to-face meetings, Zoom or telephone calls or online project tools such as Basecamp, Zen Desk or Trello. Smaller agencies may not feel they need these and larger agencies rely on Account Managers, but a missed communication is a missed opportunity.
Speak to the designers about how they work.
The long view is just as important as the here and now for your brand, in fact, is the two are inextricably linked. Look for an agency that is as interested in where you want to go as they are about the next project because every piece of design is a step in that direction. A larger agency will have brand guardianship built in as they will appreciate how the design that is in hand reflects and supports all that has gone before it and paves the way for what is yet to come.
Check out the agency’s brand management expertise.
Not too big and not too small – just perfect. Finding your perfect agency isn’t something you should put down to chance, look beyond the pitch document and the case studies to the people that worked on them and get to know them. The investment in choosing the right agency is just as important, if not more than choosing any other business-critical system for your business. Invest well and your perfect agency will save you time, money and unneeded stress.
Take the time to find the right fit, and don’t base it just on cost.
My title at Toast is Brand Strategy, but what I do is a lot simpler – I help people solve problems. Sometimes I have to identify that problem, sometimes they know already and want me to just come up with the solution and help them apply it.