Do you know how to choose a graphic design agency to work with? It can be a tricky task.
There are so many options that you could spend the next year looking through different websites and portfolios, trying to make your mind up.
There are agencies on your doorstep and agencies a million miles away.
Whether you’re looking for a branding, web design, or content marketing agency, they all promise that they can get the job done for you.
So, how do you make up your mind when it comes to picking one for your project?
1. Outline Your Project
The first thing to do when it comes to any sort of design project is to jot down a basic outline.
What exactly does the project entail?
Maybe you’re a start up company and you have no idea where to start when it comes to the design side of the business. You know you need to get a logo designed. However, the chances are that your start up company will need more than just a logo design.
You may have had a logo and brand identity designed 5 years ago. However, business picked up and you never got around to having your business cards or letterheads designed and you’ve decided now is the time. Having at least some idea of what the project entails will help both you and your chosen agency.
What are the goals of the project?
Some people might say, the goal of the above project outline is “to make my start up look good.” However, this is flawed. The goal of “looking good” is subjective, and therefore, cannot be measured. For example, if you’re rebranding your existing company, you might set goals such as;
- We want to rebrand to increase monthly sales by 10%
- We want to increase recognition within [specific industry] using newly branded advertising. The increased recognition will be measured through our increased social media following.
- Our new look website will increase monthly profits by £1000
Remember when setting goals for your project, that they should be S.M.A.R.T goals. Sustainable, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Example; “We will acquire 1000 new Twitter followers to promote our competition to win a new car to by July. This will help raise the brand awareness of our car garage.” Having 3 or 4 goals noted down for the project, will help your design agency understand the problems you’re facing and how they can help you.
Do you have a budget in mind?
At this early stage in the project, you might be unaware of the costs related to your project. Thankfully, there are plenty of articles online that can help give you initial figures and ideas. We’ve written a post about the cost of a logo design project. This will give you at least a ball park figure to get you thinking about your budget.
It’s important to have a sensible budget in mind for your project, as later in the process, it will help make clear which graphic design agencies do and don’t fit your requirements. Having a flexible budget is also a good idea because agencies can normally offer a variety of solutions, and your budget will allow them to offer you the right solution. It will also stop you worrying about budget creep and panicking that the final product might come in way over budget.
What is the deadline of the project?
Do you have a specific deadline that you need to meet? If you’re reading this now and wanting a rebrand finished tomorrow, you best be prepared for the budget that we discussed above, to be more than a little flexible. Being realistic with both your own and the design agencies time will help the project along and show respect and understanding on your part.
If you’re looking to launch your new brand of Christmas jumpers, don’t wait until December. Don’t even wait until Winter. Start getting the ball moving on the project in the latter stages of spring/early summer. Often a close stone solid deadline can have repercussions on the budget. If there’s a little more leeway, the budget might swing more favourably in your direction. Think hard and work with your chosen design agency, rather than against them.
2. Find Some Examples of Work That Reflects Your Business
Deciding on a style of design that reflects your business can be a tricky task. Before going to a design agency, it’s a good idea to form some sort of starting point. However, it’s important to remember that the best design for the job may not be to your personal taste. While you have to be comfortable with the work produced, think about the ultimate goals you set out in stage one. You have to try and put your personal feelings to one side and accept the fact that both yourself and your agency are going to be looking at what’s best for business.
3. Search For Agencies
Now that you have a basic plan and some inspiration, it’s time to start searching for the perfect graphic design agency. Getting started in your search can be daunting. Simply typing “design agency” into Google will wield a vast array of fairly useless results. Let’s take a look at what you can do to help yourself.
4. Check Out Their Websites and Portfolios
So you’ve 10-20 agencies that you like the look of. When you click through to their website, what are you looking for?
5. Follow Them on Social Media
At this point, you’ll have significantly less names on your shortlist than you started with. For some reason along the way, you’ve discarded one or two, that’s the nature of the process. The next thing I would suggest you do, is follow the agencies that remain on social media.
6. Narrow Down The Selection
At this point, you’re going to have a clear idea of the sort of agency you want to deal with, and hopefully, your list is down to 5-10 different agencies, this is a sensible number. If you have any gut feelings one way or another, either cut, or prioritise that agency.
7. Make Initial Contact to Discuss Your Project
Depending on the sort of person you are, you might decide that one method of communication suits you better than another. For me, I’ll always pick up the phone before doing anything else. It’s by far the quickest way of contact people, and if somebody will make time for you calling them, the chances are, you’ve found somebody that cares about your project.
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