Top 8 considerations when choosing your agency

In today’s world your brand is more than just a logo.  It represents who you are, and how you want to be perceived by the people who interact with it.  So it’s now more essential than ever that you find the right branding partner.  You don’t want to invest time and energy into a brand for it to fall short. 

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Finding the right partner is a tough gig, but it’s imperative to get it right.
Here are a few tips, things to look out for when you start searching for that ‘perfect fit’. 

1. First impressions matter
This starts right from the first phone call.  Those first moments when they answer your call are very revealing, so keep an eye out for the cues.  Think about how they react to your call or how quickly they respond to your email.
As you work through the proposal process, watch how they respond to your requests.  Do they meet the deadlines you set them?  Have they researched you?  Do they call or reply when they say they will?  Do they listen? Do they turn up to your meeting on time?

This first part of the process can give you a lot of insight into how they will be to work with in the future. Do you have a connection?  Trust your gut feeling here. 

2.  Do their values align with yours?
Branding and marketing projects can be full on, and require some intensive periods of working together.  You’re going to want a partner that gets you.  Whenever we meet with new clients, the first thing we gauge is whether we think we will work well as a team.  And this goes both ways.   Consider whether the agency is a good fit with you, your team and your business.  Are they genuinely interested in what your business does?  Are you like-minded - and can you see this relationship turning into a partnership?  If you don’t get a good feeling at this early stage, it’s unlikely to develop when you’re in the thick of working together. 

3.  What will they be like once you get started?
There are two types of agencies – the first will do what you ask, but not a lot more, the second will go above and beyond to learn about your business, be willing to challenge you when they believe in something strongly, deliver more than you expected, and make your life easier by always being one step ahead.  Ask the agency what their client philosophy is, and listen to what they say.

4.  Be transparent, and expect the same
Your proposal request may include pricing.  Ask the agency to provide not only any upfront costs for creative or brand development, but also an indication of future costs when you start to roll out collateral items.  You may not have a full brief sorted for these, but they should be able to give you a ballpark.  With full transparency upfront, there won’t be any unexpected surprises down the track.

5.  Is their expertise well rounded?
Brand development stretches across a number of mediums.  It goes beyond just the logo.  The company you choose should be well versed across all marketing channels, and should be able to add value to the way they are used.  They should be able to demonstrate a strategic approach to your branding or marketing, well beyond the design itself.

6. Does their portfolio reflect your direction?
An agency’s website will give you a good indication of the type of work they do.  Take these examples, and dig deeper.  Ask what the brief was, how they approached it, and look at campaign KPI’s and results.  It can be especially helpful to review case studies from projects similar to yours in relation to the brief or outcome – although not necessarily from within your industry.  You can then get a good idea of how the agency tackles projects, and the outcomes that can be achieved.

7. Understand their reputation first-hand
There is no better case study than talking directly with someone who has worked with an agency first hand.  Ask for three client names and phone numbers to contact for verbal references.  If these aren’t readily provided, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Top tips for the process:

  • Start with a meet and greet. This will give you a reasonable idea if they are a good fit for your business, before you start digging deeper.
  • Put a Request for Proposal (RFP) document together, and outline specific requirements and timelines for delivery of the proposal.
  • Look beyond price as your only decision maker.  If it’s a long-term relationship you are looking for, then the lowest price can equate to a very different level of service and delivery and may not deliver the best outcomes for your team into the future. 
  • Make sure you go back to each of agency with some feedback as to why they did or didn’t win the work.  We all want to learn and grow, and this is an important part of the process.