Marketing Directors often say finding great graphic design agencies to work with is really difficult. It starts with the painful learning curve and wanting to reinvent the wheel. Additional complaints include slow responsiveness, lack of communication and attention to detail, and finally no value-add thinking. The solution is all up front – choosing the right team and setting them up for success.
Hire the Right People
When looking for graphic design agencies, look beyond the portfolio. How long have they been doing this? Are they working alone? What would happen if they got really busy – do they have back up? Can they offer additional resources and manage larger projects? Can you discuss strategy with them? Can they add intelligent thought to what you’re working on?
Talk to Them About Internal Quality Control
How frustrating is it to repeatedly get work back with mistakes or changes missed? Quality control is a step frequently missing in graphic design agencies. It’s easy to miss things, or misunderstand client requests. It’s so important to have a second set of eyes on everything. Even I, the most senior designer will have Lisa look at my work for design standards, and Pamela for errors. She also checks our work against client requests for accuracy and understanding. Whomever you choose, make it clear they need to set up a system to have their work checked before it comes to you.
Reduce the Learning Curve
Most new clients simply give graphic design agencies their brand guidelines and a new project to do. You are the expert on your company’s brand and marketing strategy, and probably take for granted what you know. What would really help is a tour of existing tools and your grand plan. Because no design project should be done in isolation, sharing the overall marketing strategy helps too.
Introduce Your Sacred Cows
Brand guidelines are often done by branding specialists, not graphic design agencies –so people not applying it – or before it has been applied it to many items. They’re often not as useful as you think. Using real examples of past work, talk about them in relation to the brand guidelines, where there’s room for flexibility and not. Be explicit with your graphic design agencies about what they cannot change at all, along with a bit of background so they understand why.
Set Expectations Early
All clients are different so tell graphic design agencies what you want up front.
• Do you prefer emails or phone calls?
• Do you want daily status updates or just receive the work when it’s due?
• How should we deal with an impending budget overrun?
• Ask them what they need from you to be successful.
• Agree on reasonable response times for changes and new work.
You can have great relationships with graphic design agencies if you go in aware of the challenges and have a plan to deal with or minimize them. Both sides should be patient and work together to get past those hurdles. It would be a shame to fire a potentially good team impulsively only to start the process all over again!
If you’d like to learn more or find out how we work with people like you, don’t hesitate to contact Faith.