We look at the provision of creative services as a partnership. As such, we are looking to work with fired up entrepreneurs, go getters and trail blazers. Often, we're in a difficult situation where two, three or more agencies are pitched against each other, the project parameters change or the brief isn't sufficient for us to quote against or we just can't get the client on board as a long term equity prospect.
Here's what we have found useful over the years when it comes to selecting the right design partner for your business.
1. AGENCY vs FREELANCE
There are really 5 key things to remember when deciding between a full agency or freelance approach. PRICE is probably top of the list, however be weary. Agencies will be more expensive because of overheads and skill sets. Freelancers will be cheaper but may not be able to tackle large scale projects so well. In both cases, cheap design makes you look like a cheap business. Cutting financial corners will lower price point of your product/service and customers will value it less. The QUALITY of work is key to any creative success. This is usually demonstrated in a portfolio or by accolades and accreditations. A freelance approach can often bring better results because they are able to drill down into the detail. Agencies tend to want to get into the next project. If you need to work to a TIMESCALE, be sure to pick a partner who understands this and be sure to allow plenty of time for the creative process. We simply don't work with people who don't value this concept. You may find that the process takes longer through an agency because there are that many more people involved. Freelancers tend to get there a little quicker. You will always benefit from EXPERIENCE. It will help keep costs realistic. Generally, there is little understanding of how a creative arrives at a solution, only that a solution has been reached. Often, there is a whole process post design that takes place so that a piece of design can be implemented digitally or in print. Known as pre and post production. Agencies naturally have a collective experience, combining many talents to create the end result. Most of all, pick a creative who is good at COMMUNICATION. Concepts need justifying, emails need answering and meetings need to be successfully held to keep everyone in the loop.
2. CLEAR BRIEFS
In my 20 years experience, I have seen only a handful of briefs, scoping documents, framework files and so on. Planning your communication strategy helps clarify what it is you want to achieve. Not knowing what you want means not knowing how much it's likely to cost. At prevamp©, we use a mind mapping process that helps identify need. It helps visualise where to spend budget, what communication is required across which mediums. For us, we can plan a design programme from this document. I cannot stress just how important it is to know what the end result is going to be before pen is put to paper. It saves a lot of time and money and if you know the outcome of the process, then you will know your customer and how you want them to respond.
Understanding the design process can really help the creative juices flow. If design is constantly put under pressure to deliver, if deadlines are too tight, if briefs are unclear or if the creative isn't allowed the space to create, then all is lost. It is no more than a spending disaster, a write off on the ledger. We all find fault first and look at things from a very personal perspective. We aim to be impartial and take the view that a business, product or service is a person in its own right. How best can we all serve that person? What do we need to feed it, how often should we water it? Trust your design partner to do the right thing, after all, their success is making you successful.
4. LOOK TO THE LONG TERM
Don't be reactive to business needs. Sure, things will crop up that need addressing, but generally speaking, having a strategy will serve a business far better than jumping day-to-day into different design projects. Working with an agency or freelancer on a monthly retained basis is more beneficial for all parties that by job or by the hour even. I guarantee a designer will want to present the best possible solution and will work above and beyond a time allocation to deliver it. Knowing the mid to long term goals of any business is key to success. Commit to one design partner and not many because there will be no clear message if you hire multiple creatives. Be sure to have a brand expert in place to overlook web agencies, designers, product designers, photographers and so on. We can always recommend the best people to work with and put the right people in place to achieve the end result.
5. LAUGH & ENJOY IT
Many think of design and marketing as a non essential service to business. Of course, we think differently. There are many competitors for all of us, we have them too! It is in times of change that we can take more market share, get ahead of the competition and become statesmen. Where you win is through USP's and customer service. We've helped many businesses re-connect. Communicating a business means feeling confident about making the offer to others, feeling proud of who you are, having the internal communications to support the process, putting smiles on faces. Of course there is a serious side to what we all do, but there is also a need to show our human side. Design shouldn't be grey, safe, thinned out. It should be bold and command our attention. Looking different to your competitor is a good thing...it demonstrates that you are a leader and not a follower.
prevamp© believes in sustainable products and services. We want to be as kind to the environment as we can be. Our packaging design, business stationery and brochure work incorporates recycled materials or products that are fully compostable. Printing inks are water based where possible.