How to choose a design agency. A short guide.
Projects and situations vary of course, but from over 20yrs in the business there are some pretty simple and sensible rules to follow when selecting the right agency for you. Here are a few tips to help you make that call:
At the very least, be sure to choose an agency that you are happy can deliver all that you need, well. Do you like their work? If you do but it’s not wholly relevant, do they show an ability to think and craft a creative solution that could be right for you? If they say they write, how do they sound? Read their site, their thoughts, often an agencies voice can be as helpful to understanding them as any visual. And often agencies will have relevant creative examples they are not showing for one reason or another, if you want to see something specific, ask them what they have.
In most cases the budget will be a factor.
And there may be valid differences in the size, style and structure of the agencies you look at which could influence how they quote. And then there are freelancers. Agencies will always be more expensive but you get facets of a service you simply don’t get with freelancers. Freelancers will be cheaper but … you get the point. In the end, if a key base to your decision is a cost comparison, the comparison needs to be a fare and reasonable one.
Remember, agencies are grown ups and generally reasonable people too. If money is an issue pick up the phone, talk about it. There is always flexibility in how work is delivered but you’ll never get the best from your agency or the relationship if corners are unexpectedly cut or budgets reduced along the way. We would always recommend you talk about how they can structure what you need from them in a way that works for both parties. If the agencies right for you they’ll respect that and make every effort to make things work.
As an agency we always believe that money should never be the ulitimate barrier to working together.
For so many reasons good communication is key to getting you to the right agency for you. We’ve talked about the money conversation, a little honesty upfront can quickly build trust and respect. As will some passion and interest in the process, so get the brief right. And if you’re not experienced at that, write it with your agencies. They are. It’s another a good way to get a sense of what who they are and how they work before you make your decision.
Communication also works both ways. We do what we do because we are genuinely interested in brands, businesses and people and how we can help them talk to and succeed in their worlds. Any agency worth considering will welcome your call, and should be keen to talk, meet, put the kettle on and learn as much about you as you of them. Let’s face it, most agency people do love to talk.
Free creative pitching is just rude. It doesn’t work and sets completely the wrong tone from the start. Please don’t do it. It really is not the best way to select any agency. We will pitch, but only if certain criteria are met:
- it’s paid – at least a token to acknowledge the time, effort and creative value you are asking us to put in.
- it’s worth it. Remember agencies are businesses too. We only pitch when we know the final budget and its enough to make it worth us winning.
- there are clear objectives and an even clearer creative brief – if for no other reason we can see you’ve thought about this too and the pitch is not just a lazy way of finding a good agency.
- the number of agencies involved is reasonable – 3, possibly 4 yes. Any more – no.
Do you like them? This is a must. And another reason to pick up the phone and get to know your agencies. Creative projects should be enjoyable. Working with people you don’t particularly like is not positive or enjoyable and will in all probability weaken the final solution.
So, in summary.
Do you like how they look and sound? Talk to your agencies, get to know them as people and not just suppliers, if you are determined to pitch, be prepared to be turned down unless you commit to, be honest, upfront and never let money be a barrier to working with the right supplier.
Thoughts, words and dubious grammar courtesy of Adrian, eminently reachable on 07712 270 198. Some dates still available.