Get a game plan
Before starting your search for a design agency, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your objectives. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve through design. Do you want to increase brand recognition and increase sales? Do you want to promote a particular product or service?
From there, what do you think you’ll need from your creative partner to put together for you? Do you feel a rebrand would help you increase brand recognition? Do you have strategic marketing skills in-house, or will you need support with this alongside design?
When you’ve identified these goals, you can narrow down your search to include a creative partner with the relevant skills and experience.
Check out the goods
When evaluating design agencies, take the time to review their expertise and portfolio. A lot of people would advise you to find creative partners with experience working with businesses similar to yours or within your industry. This can be helpful as your partner will already know your industry. However, it’s also worth considering firms who have experienced success with clients in a variety of industries and can therefore offer a fresh perspective on your business.
Scrutinise their portfolio to determine the quality of their work and whether their design style aligns with your brand vision. A diverse portfolio showcasing versatility and creativity is often a good indicator of their capabilities.
Communication is key
Effective communication and collaboration are key factors in a successful partnership with a design team. Look for creatives that actively listen to your ideas and concerns and respond with thoughtful insights. A design partner should be able to understand your business's unique values and effectively translate them into compelling visual elements. Your partner should help build your trust in them by being clear about what you should expect from them, what they will need from you and doing what they say they’re going to do.
Will you be working directly with the designers or does the agency employ the use of account executives? If they do use account executives, what is your impression of in-house communications? While the firm’s representative might understand what you want, it’s vital they communicate that effectively to the designers.
An added bonus is finding a creative partner you really click with, who just “gets it”. They still need to fulfil the other criteria in this blog but if you feel a strong connection with your design partner, you’ll find communication flows freely, they are personally invested in your success and the results of your collaboration will be exceptional.
Form follows function
Design is not just about aesthetics; it should be driven by strategy. A great design partner understands the importance of aligning design decisions with your overall marketing and business objectives. Ask about their strategic approach to design and how they integrate it into their creative process. A design agency that can provide strategic insights and support will help you create designs that resonate with your target audience and drive meaningful results.
Be open to being challenged on your strategic goals. A good creative will question your motivations and what you want to achieve with that rebrand or campaign. They might suggest that, based on what you want to achieve and/or the budget you have available, the design output might produce better results if it’s different to what you thought you might need at the start. For example, they may suggest a corporate folder with inserts will suit your needs better than a full corporate brochure or vice versa.
The word on the street
One of the most reliable ways to gauge a design agency's capabilities and reliability is by seeking client testimonials and referrals. Reach out to their previous or existing clients to get firsthand feedback on their experience. Inquire about the agency's professionalism, project management, adherence to timelines, and overall satisfaction with the final deliverables. Honest testimonials will provide you with valuable insights into their work ethic and the level of client satisfaction they strive to achieve.
While it's essential to find a design partner that fits within your budget, remember that quality should never be compromised for cost. Be transparent about your budget limitations and discuss pricing structures and payment terms upfront. Equally, your creative team should be honest about what is possible in the budget too. What does their fee include? Have they given an indication of what is and isn’t included?
Choosing the right design partner is a critical decision that can significantly impact your brand's success. By defining your needs, doing your research and getting to know your new potential partners, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your business's needs.
The right creative partner should be:
- Experienced with a proven track record
- Able to produce design that not only looks impressive but delivers on strategic purpose
- Easy to work with through honest and open communication
- Able to create work on brief, on time and in budget
This will benefit you and your business by:
- Saving you time and stress
- Maximising your profits and sales by helping you communicate effectively with your target audience
Finding a design agency that understands your vision, communicates effectively, and delivers exceptional results is an investment that pays dividends in the long run.
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.