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How to choose a design or digital agency – Part 1

How to choose a design agency

22 Mar' 19 | By gwcm

Choosing a creative or digital agency to produce your new website, brand communications or corporate identity can be tough. It’s important to really understand what agencies do and how they differ in order to research, select and appoint a good one to help your business grow.

Most clients find the process of finding, selecting and choosing a design or digital agency a challenge. They may not be trained to buy and manage design services and may find the choice daunting. If a Sales Manager or Finance Director has to find a supplier to produce a new website or annual report, how do they know which agency is a good or bad choice, other than following their own personal preference or taste?

If we could offer only one piece of advice it would be to ensure that design is introduced at the earliest possible stage of a project, as a designer can add value at the strategic level as well as the tactical implementation level. It’s also worth ensuring that the key decision makers are involved in kick-off conversations.

Type of Agency

Design should always be seen as an investment, not a cost term that will contribute to commercial effectiveness. The term ‘designer’ is used to cover a range of services and a talented, experienced designer will be able to resolve most design challenges. However, design agencies often specialise in certain types of design or sectors, and many agencies may offer more than one specialism. When in the initial stages of selecting and commissioning an agency, look for one that specialises in the type of challenge you have identified. It may seem obvious, but, if you you need to resolve issues with your website then look for a digital creative agency, rather than an exhibition designer.

Developing a brief

A good place to start when thinking about what sort of designer you need, is to look at the size and the nature of the challenge facing you and your business. The next step in clarifying your requirements is drafting a brief. Designers will need background information about your business and the nature of the project, as well as what you know about your competitors.

The brief represents a starting point for internal communication and discussion as well as a tool for you to use when searching for and selecting an agency. It helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page. A good brief is one that is clear, sticks to one goal, has supportive constraints and inspires others to take on the project. Read our blog on the subject, and download our free briefing sheet here https://www.gavinwillis.co.uk/write-strong-creative-digital-project-briefs/.

Finding Design Agencies

Once you have thought about the challenge you face, drafted a design brief and identified the type of agency you think you need, asking colleagues or other business contacts for a referral is one route you could take. At this point you are ideally looking to identify no more than three agencies whom you feel confident would be able to help you.

Using the internet is another route; but it’s possibly the most haphazard and certainly the most time consuming. Many trade associations offer guidance and can assist with agency search and selection. The Design Business Association, the UK industry’s trade association is a great place to start. The Directory will allow you to search by different criteria, narrowing down the possibilities. https://www.dba-community.org.uk/s/searchdirectory?id=a251t000000dmIB. From here you can view their websites too, but how do you actually know who is right or who is more suitable than others?

How to choose a design or digital agency – Part 2