Choosing the right design agency isn’t that easy. There are a few things to consider, but firstly, it is important that you do your research upfront. Don’t email everyone (yes we’ve had emails were we’ve been ccd in!). The “To Whom It May Concern” emails go straight to the spam folder. If you haven’t taken the time to investigate whether the design agency is suitable, it simply shows a lack of understanding, laziness, and that you are more concerned about price than the project outcome. It’s not a good start.

Here are a few tips on what to consider:

Budget

What can you afford? Don’t be scared to talk budget. Designers are not here to scam you; they are here to solve problems. It is important that you consider your budget upfront as it will affect whom you should be contacting in the first place (Student, Freelancer, Agency), and what level of expertise you can afford, along with what is achievable within your budget.

Buy cheap – buy twice, or ‘the bitter after-taste of poor design will linger long after the sweetness of a low price has been forgotten’ is all so true. Paying extra for great design is always worth it. We have been contacted many times by clients asking us to fix what they have already paid for. It becomes costly paying twice so it’s always better to get it right from the start.

Expertise

Is the project suitable for the agency you are contacting? Have they done this type of work before? Don’t be too fixated on if they’ve done work within your sector, the right expertise and mindset is more important. Review the Agency portfolio, read their case studies to understand their way of working. Are they creative, are they strategic, will they be the right fit for your project?

Structure

A good design agency should be able to lead you. Not only from a design point but also through the process. They should have structures in place to make the job easier.

Local or not

Do you need to see someone face-to-face? Are you comfortable working over Skype, phone and email? There’s no problem working with an agency across the globe these days, we have all the tools to do it smoothly (read our previous post on the tools we use when team-working remotely). It is however important to realize what you and your team prefer. And what is suitable for the project. If it’s signage or packaging, you might be better off working with a local agency for example versus an annual report or website design which can easily be created remotely.

Chemistry

Even if the agency has suitable experience and expertise, and is right for the budget, will they be easy to work with? Do they ‘get’ what you’re about? Sometimes going with your gut is right. Go with whom you feel comfortable with.

References

Once you’ve shortlisted your agencies, ask them for references and testimonials from similar clients/projects. Speaking to someone that has recently completed a job with the agency will greatly help in your decision-making.

Once you’ve chosen whom to contact, it’s time to write the brief.

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