Trace Hayes

What to look for when hiring a designer or design agency

What to look for when hiring a designer or design agency

Jun 9, 2012
Hiring the right design agency can be one of the most important decisions you make for your business. One of the first questions you need to answer is should you hire a large agency or small?

A large agency will have writers, illustrators, proof readers, account executives, production designers, photographers etc. all on staff. If you go with a large agency you will likely meet with the Creative Director & Account Executive to discuss your project but the work will likely be handed off to a lower level designer or freelancer. Smaller agencies might need to contract out for a photographer or an illustrator but they will choose the best person to meet the needs & style of your project. When working with a small agency you will work directly with the team you met with. If you can find a small agency that has the experience, meets your needs, & has the talent to provide you with the best outcome, a small agency might be for you!

That being said, if you do choose to go with a small agency, know who you are hiring. After over 20 years of professional experience I cannot stress enough how important it is to know what the agency’s professional background is.

You are hiring someone to be represent your company to the world. Would you hire a CEO without knowing they actually went to school for business & had prior experience in the professional world? It’s not uncommon for someone to learn the design programs & set up shop. The ability to use design programs does not make them capable of providing you with a successful brand or marketing campaign.

1. Know who you are hiring.
- If it’s a small agency (or even a single designer) find out what their professional background is.
- Make sure they actually have a degree specifically in Advertising & Design.
- Ask how many years of professional experience they have working for other agencies/companies prior to setting up their own business.

2. Look for an agency with long standing clients.
We have clients (some of them Fortune 500’s) that have been with us since our formation 11 years ago.

- Work, experience & long term clients should be telling factors of an agencies ability.

3. Look for an agency that has clients both large & small, local & national.
- Designers that only have experience working in a small market often have a myopic view. A good design firm should have experience with clients outside of their local economy & the ability & knowhow to operate in any region.

4. Look for an agency that produces smart design.
- Review the body of work. Is it good or is it great? What you should be thinking is that their work is amazing, creative, innovative & above all positions its clients in the best light. Designers should be excellent problem solvers, sociologists & marketers in addition to being incredible designers. They should be able to communicate what might be a difficult concept in a way that looks great & helps you become more successful.

5. When working on a project, the client/agency relationship becomes a very close relationship. Make sure that your personalities fit.

6. When it comes to branding, creating a logo should always be more than just picking a typeface & adding clipart to it. It should embody the story that you are telling about your business without over complicating it.

After you chose the right designer or design studio:

Trust the designer you have hired. It is their job to do a lot of the thinking for you. Getting a full background & insight into your business is important. The designer should also do their own research into your market & should come up with a strategy based on a combination of information. If a designer asks you what you want & they produce just that, you are paying not for their expertise but simply for someone to graphically execute your vision. If you hire the right person/agency they will make a positive & valuable impact on your business.