In this competitive and somewhat saturated market it can be quite overwhelming choosing a Graphic Design agency to suit your needs. It’s very much a two way relationship especially if you’re looking for an AOR (Agency of record) which means the agency will be your “go-to” for everything design and sometimes marketing related. A lot of agencies these days offer a myriad of services just “because”. You’ll find that a lot of smaller agencies want to pull in as much business as possible to stay afloat so they offer pretty much anything they can think up that falls under design, marketing and social media. This is a problem if the agency is small and consists of 1 or 2 people. If you’ve searched for “graphic design agency Birmingham” for example you’ll notice a LOT of paid ads, these are the guys to avoid usually. They are paying to rank there and may have only been operating for a matter of weeks. You need to look at the organic results. The top few results are going to be high quality proven agencies and definitely worth a look.
First impressions: When you land on the graphic design agency website you’ll immediately get a feel for what kind of design they like and the kind of work you’ll come to expect from them. If you’re seeing a website that is screaming in desperation for you to make contact by having a contact form right at the top and offering logos for 20 quid then press the back button immediately. You need to find an agency that is confident in their work, so much so that the page doesn’t make an attempt to secure your business every click or scroll.
Looking at an agency portfolio is a good place to start. Take a look at the work they’ve done for other clients, you’ll be able to see how flexible they are when it comes to styles of design and also most importantly the quality of the work.
Getting in touch, make sure you’ve got a clear brief ready. Calling and saying “I need a website, how much” doesn’t really tell the agency much and is not a good way to start a potential relationship with the company. To get an accurate quote you’re going to need to detail how many pages you want, any specific functionality you’ll need such as online payments, e-commerce, user login, social media features, etc. You get the idea. With this information the agency should be able to give you an estimate and once you’ve agreed to go ahead expect to pay around 40% upfront. This is an industry standard.
It’s good to search local, and in most instances google will show you local results, but if not just add your area to the end of the search term. Being able to visit the agency and meet the team, even get involved with the project is a big bonus. There shouldn’t be any problem in doing this especially if it’s a big project. So make sure to test the waters and ask if it would be ok to come and visit.
Any decent agency will use a project management system such as basecamp, this will enable you to keep track of what’s happening on your project and comment on any artwork that has been put forward. You should also have been given an ETA on the work, if that already hasn’t been agreed upon.
One thing to remember is this.. “You get what you pay for” and this is so true within the graphic design industry. I think this image sums it up really well.