Choosing a design agency is like finding a co-founder. It’s hard and messy but finding the right one means the difference between a lot of headaches and massive success.
Design permeates every step of a company's presence. From your logo, website, marketing, content and execution, it’s the glue that holds your business together; it creates your brand identity.
So, you can't cut back on choosing the right partner.
After reading through this article, you'll have everything you need to demystify the process of hiring an agency that works for you with confidence.
One of the first questions to ask yourself is what exactly do you need help with?
Whether you’re looking for something specific like website design or marketing for a campaign or larger scale such as branding or UI / UX, it’s important to clearly define your needs.
After you have your brief, you’ll have a much clearer idea of exactly what kind of partner you’re looking for and whether they’ll be able to get the job done to your satisfaction.
Once you have your needs defined, it’s time to understand the business goal you’re looking to achieve with this project, such as:
Make the ‘why’ behind the work as clear as possible so the design teams understand it as well as you do.
We worked with Fairsmile Dental Financing to help with preliminary testing via launching a landing page, ad creative, and email collection capabilities to test interest and product viability. If your business goal is to validate an idea, this is a great example of how one could be designed.
If your business goal is to create assets or pre-order ads for a product launch, it’s ideal to look through examples of ad design, email design, and branding. Our work with Logitech involved just that: we created tons of assets for their launch, and consulted on branding, videos, and general creative.
Define your budget if you haven’t already done so, including your lowest and highest amount for the project.
If you’re unsure about the current rate, quickly conduct an internet search of general budgets for similar projects.
When asking for pitches, it always helps to know what you’re already inspired by.
You’ll avoid a lot of confusion by showing examples of work. Collect these work samples in a way that works best for you.
Whether that be:
It’s important that you have access to these later when speaking directly to design agencies to communicate your needs and expectations.
Ask yourself what draws you to these specific examples and how you can imagine your project and your company building on these ideas.
Links to a few sites that provide examples for people to reference:
Design is all about good communication, both visual and verbal. While this is the most basic element of defining a good agency, it’s definitely the most impressionable.
First and foremost: a good design agency will be able to communicate their value for your business well through how they represent themselves.
Find out everything you can about their working style. Ask how often they meet with clients and who takes the reins on communication.
Often, agencies will explain their design process on their website in addition to how they charge, whether it be pricing out per project or through retainers.
Referrals are always your best bet when finding agencies to work with.
Word-of-mouth testimonies hold so much more weight through trusted collaborators you know well. You can check out your peers and competitors, as they may have worked with an agency in the past.
If you’re unable to find enough agency options through referrals, you can use design platforms, such as Dribble and Behance, as well as social networking like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google.
Combining all of the above will give you a rounded out list of agencies to interview and choose from.
Once an agency has looked through your brief, find out step by step how they would kick off a project like yours and ensure all of the following questions have been answered:
Choosing a design agency should take time, but now that we’ve gone through the most important aspects, your time will be well spent.
Here are the most important takeaways:
Have a topic you’d like to see covered on the Wing? Drop us a line.