1. Talk talk
Communication is absolutely vital. Creatives want the best possible outcome for their clients, and this is facilitated if you let them know all the essentials and answer questions clearly and honestly. It should be a two way street as well - if you're not sure about anything always feel free to discuss with your creative team.
2. Be up front
Agree expectations with your creative partner up front. This includes deadlines and budgets, deliverables, who is responsible for what. It's also good practice to have these all laid out in an email or similar so everyone involved can refer back to it. Your creative partner should provide you with a quote or pricing plan for the work, and what is included and not included so you know what to expect.
Within these expectations include specifications for deliverables, for example, exact sizes in millimetres or pixels. Providing sizes up front, before any design starts, minimises the risk of a piece of creative having to be resized later, which can be outside of the scope of the brief and therefore may add time and an extra fee to the project.
3. The one
It's much easier for creative partners to work with one main point of contact to minimise the risk of errors and confusion. Feel free to bring along one or two other key project members to a meeting but make it clear who will be leading communications and making final decisions going forward with the project.
4. Have a plan
What do you want to achieve by working with your new creative partner? You don't need to know everything but if you have an idea of what you want and why we can do the rest! Let us know your short and long term goals. If you have a 5 or 10 year plan, that's useful for us to bear in mind so we can help you work towards it.
5. Check out the competition
Who are your competitors? You'd be surprised how many clients we've worked with who don't think they have any competitors. While it may be true that there is no one else doing quite the same thing as you, there will be other people in similar organisations who are competing for the same pot of money.
For example, a firm of business coaches may work in a very specific way for a very niche market, and there may be no one else out there that does this. However, that coaching firm's target niche market might also be considering working with more generalised business coaches. They may look at working with sales trainers and marketing consultants because these and coaches can all help grow company profits.
Your creative partners will find this information really useful as it helps us see how you position your organisation in the marketplace.
6. Team work
Before starting the project, speak to your team. Get their opinion on what is and isn't working and use these findings to develop new materials. Its no good designing new sales brochures if these work for your sales team but what they really need are some new materials for following up those hot leads. Or that those materials are better delivered as printed items rather than digital because your target audience prefer not to communicate that way. Or that they need to be digital because your target audience are on the move and tend to misplace printed items.
7. Get your listening ears on
During the project, consult your team again to gain constructive feedback for your creative partners. Be selective with what feedback to pass on it as may be conflicting - you can't please everyone! It also might not be constructive. A good sense check is to work out if the feedback is based on what is best for the brand or whether its based on someone's personal preferences. Ultimately your project leader should have the final say. So definitely don't start a WhatsApp group with your team and your creative partner, as we've heard has happened (thankfully not to us)!
Give your team deadlines for feedback and for any other items that need to be supplied to your creative partner. It can be worth adding a bit of 'fat' into the schedule so if your people are a day late you still won't be late delivering to your design partner.
8. Over and over
When passing on your feedback, its much easier and generally much more time and cost efficient if you request one large round of changes than several rounds of smaller changes. For design projects, at Studio Bifrost we love to receive PDFs with comments on. A carefully composed email also works just as well. The act of communicating via these channels means you'll need to sit down and compose your thoughts, rather than rattling off a quick text message that might not cover everything you want to raise. Quick text messages may seem speedier initially but in the long term, it might not be if you have to go back and add something you missed first time or clarify a point.
Be specific with your amendments too - asking questions like "Should this text be bigger?" is pretty open-ended, but "Can this text be more prominent please, maybe try it bigger?" helps your design partner understand what you're trying to achieve. They can then advise on the best course forward. In this example, it may be that the text needs to be bolder or a different colour to gain prominence, rather than larger which would throw off the balance of the design.
9. Getting creative
If you've agreed to supply text or images, make sure you allow plenty of time for this to be done. Be aware that it takes time and skill to deliver these. However, at Studio Bifrost, we can take care of the copywriting, photography and illustration if you're feeling swamped or would prefer to let the professionals handle it.
10. Honesty pays
Do what you say you're going to do - don't overcommit and if there's an issue, let your creative partner know as soon as possible so they can plan around it. Life is full of unexpected events, so whether a key member of your team has fallen ill or the project has become more urgent, the earlier you let your creative team know, the greater the chances of us accommodating that change with minimal or no negative impact to the project. In addition, this builds trust with your creatives as we'll feel like we're being kept in the loop, just as we want you to feel with us.
A partnership made in heaven?
Feeling inspired? We'd love to help! We are a team of collaborators that enjoy nothing more than partnering with ambitious clients. Get in touch if you'd like to talk through your next project or get some advice.