How To Choose a
Like With Any Relationship Trust Is Important When Working With a Design/Branding Firm. But How Do You Establish It?
The process of working together on the design, marketing, and branding requires you and the design firm to be able to be open and honest. Both parties have critical experience and knowledge that is important to developing a creative and effective design solution. A design firm has seen many different projects with many different approaches that worked and have been asked to do different things that they know are less effective. Conversely, you have a greater specific experience with your company or product and have probably seen some effective and less effective marketing processes. A partnership between a client and a design firm is critical to achieving high-quality, innovative, and effective design, marketing, advertising, and branding. Below is a process for determining if a design firm is right for your company.
Step 1 – Understanding Your Business or Product
1) What are your business or product’s strongest benefits?
2) What are your business or product’s strongest liabilities?
3) Who is your target audience? Age? Gender? Education? Experience? Etc.
4) What impression do you want to deliver to that audience?
5) Who is your main competition?
6) Do you have a strongly recognized brand? If not, why?
7) Does your brand align with your current company or product strengths?
This will be the foundation for what a good firm will create for you.
Step 2 – What relationship are you looking for with a design/branding firm?
1) Do you want a firm to strictly follow your instructions or are you open to allowing them to contribute their experience and ideas?
2) Is this a one-time need or are you looking for a longer-term relationship?
3) Are you looking for the cheapest option, the best, or somewhere in the middle? Do you want the best result for your investment?
4) Do you want face-to-face meetings or are phone, email, or Zoom interactions ok?
5) Do you want a firm with a large staff or will a smaller, experienced firm fulfill your needs? Coca-Cola uses a large firm for its overall branding but might use various smaller firms for individual product or campaign needs.
Step 3 – Research Design/Marketing firms
A) Look at their work and experience. Is their work interesting and motivational? Does it show diverse thinking and an ability to adjust to the different needs of different companies and industries?
B) Contact them. Any firm worth a damn will gladly have a casual conversation with you. After all, they are interviewing you as well. This is a time to get an understanding of how they think and how excited they are to contribute to your success.
C) Diversity of work is key! Remember that if you see one style or look in their portfolio that is what you are going to get. That may be initially more comforting but if you see a variety of styles and looks you will be offered more custom-built options which are a better way to achieve a distinguished and more effective look for your brand.
D) Talk to each firm about your expectations and how you would like to work. Every client has a different “dance” and a good firm will adjust to your particular needs.
E) Ask for an estimate. Make sure you are being very clear and consistent with the firms you ask for estimates (usually 3-4 max). If there are aspects of your needs that could be interpreted, you might want to simplify the estimate so you get a better and more consistent comparison of costs. An estimate should also include the process, number of revisions, inclusions, exclusions, etc.
Step 4 – Once a Decision is Made…
A) Have a conversation about how you see the work process evolving. The design firm may have suggestions or knowledge about the proper order of tasks that can help.
B) Deliver the complete work request, timeline, etc. Ask for a revised estimate if needed.
C) Once the estimate is approved let the firm know. They may require a partial payment to start the work.
D) It’s a good courtesy to let the other firms know that they did not get the project. If possible let them know why.
How to evaluate creative design firms
There are several aspects that can contribute to a feeling of trust and comfort with one design firm vs another. There are also ways to work with experienced and quality design firms that can ensure a smooth and enjoyable process as well as the delivery of a logo that will be both effective and one that you can feel proud of. If you would like to us to send you our 2-sided sheet on this please submit the form below.
Evaluating Design firms
AXIS visual has been designing innovative and effective graphic marketing for more than two decades. We’ve enjoyed the wide variety of business and product types that we have worked with. Some have been conservative, others more playful. Some have been more corporate, requiring brand guides, others have been consumer or product oriented. We enjoy the variety and always learn something new that can be helpful for other future projects.
William Milnazik is the owner and lead designer at AXIS visual. His viewpoint and creative “fingerprint” is on everything that comes out of our doors. As a graduate of Tyler School of Art, and having been raised in a creative family (designers, illustrators, painters) he loves what creative thinking can bring to business and to people’s lives.