September 30, 2022

Hire The Right Design Agency For Your Company

A step-by-step guide on how to find, vet, and hire the RIGHT design agency.

Demystifying the Process 

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.

Be Clear On Your Needs and Develop a Brief

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. 

Here are the core questions you’d want to answer in a creative brief: 

  • What is your company about? 
  • Do you have a brand style guide? If not, do you have basic assets you already use? 
  • What are the tangible outcomes you’re looking for from your project? 
  • Who’s the audience the product or website we’re designing is being built for? 
  • Are there any non-negotiable things you want in the designs that you need to make sure the agency can do? 
  • When do you need the work done by? What is your anticipated timeline?

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. 

Understand Your Business Goals

Once you have your needs defined, it’s time to understand the business goal you’re looking to achieve with this project, such as:

  • What are your expected gains?
  • Are you looking for more conversions on your site? 
  • Are you looking for more engagement on your content? 
  • Do you want a lower cost per conversion on your advertising? 

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

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.

Get Inspired

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:

Know How to Quickly Vet Agencies 

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. 

  • Bookmark agency portfolios which include similar projects to yours and with clients similar to you and in your industry. 
  • Look at their testimonials, certificates, honors, and any kind of reputable recognition to verify their trustworthiness. 
  • Consult their website, their social media platforms, Google, and review websites before making a final selection.

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.

Actually Finding Agencies to Choose From 

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.

What to Ask For When Being Pitched 

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:

  1. What would your turnaround time be for my project? 
  2. What software do you use for communication with clients and feedback? 
  3. How often do you want to communicate about a project, especially those similar to mine?
  4. How much responsibility or input do you expect and want from me? 
  5. What recommendations would you have to help clean up my own project scope? 
  6. What are common challenges that you have seen for similar projects, and how do you imagine working through it with me?
  7. Do you provide audits before signing a contract? 
  8. Do you outsource your work or do it in-house? 
  9. How do you do your pricing and can it be itemized?

Summing up the Process 

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:

  1. Know what you want before poking around. 
  2. Understand what to watch for so you don’t waste your time. 
  3. Know where to look for good choices
  4. Interview intelligently so you don’t get caught up in design jargon 
  5. Have clear standards when accepting an offer.

Have a topic you’d like to see covered on the Wing? Drop us a line. 

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