How to Choose the Right Creative Agency

How to Choose the Right Creative Agency
6 minutes read. August 28th, 2019.

Know your project

You may not have any specific outcomes in mind during the early stages (perhaps that’s why you’re looking to hire a creative agency in the first place), but you should at least try to establish some basic aims or goals before beginning your creative journey. Having a rough idea of your budget is also useful (if it’s a flexible budget, even better – agencies are likely to put forward some additional ideas which may well take your fancy).

Feel free to put together some examples of any work you find inspiring – although not essential, inspiration can go a long way towards assisting your chosen agency in understanding the style and tone that you wish to capture. Last but not least, keep in mind a deadline for your project. Timescales will vary based on the size of the job, but it’s always best to allow plenty of time for completion.

Understand your needs as a client

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you needn’t feel limited by location. That said, if you’re someone who prefers face-to-face meetings as opposed to emails, phone calls or Skype conferences, you’re probably best off hiring an agency that’s based within a reasonable distance. It’s all a matter of personal preference, really. Although not always the case, smaller out-of-city agencies may suit your budget needs better whilst offering a more attentive, focused service. This can reduce the risk of your project being passed around several different designers, which can sometimes occur at larger agencies.

Compile a shortlist

When establishing a list of contenders, ensure that you reach out to people for recommendations. Of course, online searches are the go-to method, but it’s highly likely that friends, family and colleagues will be able to offer up some suggestions. Your shortlist can be as long as you like, although you might prefer to stick to around five strong candidates for the sake of your own sanity.

Review websites and portfolios

A good website will not just summarise an agency’s services in detail – it will also demonstrate how expertise have been applied to projects via a company portfolio. There may also be a section dedicated to case studies, which usually explores individual jobs in more detail.

Design portfolios are a must for creative agencies – after all, how can a potential client hire an agency without having seen any previous work? Perhaps an agency on your shortlist has prior experience of creating something within your industry. You may see this experience as a plus point, but don’t rule out agencies that appear to have less experience in your field – they might have a better chance of creating something completely fresh.

Portfolios are also an effective way of showcasing what kind of clients an agency works with. Bear in mind that it’s not just about big brands – a portfolio containing a varied mixture of clients suggests an agency which knows how to mix things up and apply creative skills to a range of industries. Keep a keen eye out for testimonials and awards, too (even a nomination brings an added level of prestige). Additionally, establish whether or not the agencies on your list have any long-term client relationships – repeat custom suggests trust and dependability.

There’s a wealth of information to be gained from taking the time to review each agency’s website – after all, it’s likely to be the first point of contact for potential clients, so companies will be out to make a lasting impression. Ultimately, you must decide which agency’s values resonate with your own. It’s all about establishing some common ground on which to build a memorable and exciting creative project.

Keep an eye on social media

Following your shortlisted agencies on social media allows you to track how each company behaves as a brand. Take note of what each agency talks about and how often they post, as well as the tone of voice they use. If, for instance, agencies with a more serious tone fail to excite you, then perhaps you’d prefer to work with a company that appears to take a more informal, fun approach. Don’t be afraid to take to the keyboard and engage with each candidate, either – why not test out just how responsive each agency is?

Test out the chemistry

Once you’ve whittled your shortlist down to two or three potential agencies, you can look to hold what’s known as a ‘chemistry meeting’, in which both client and agency are able to discuss the project and get a feel for one another. Chemistry meetings, which can be done over the phone or face-to-face, are a great opportunity for the agency to throw their hat in the ring and prove why they should work with you.

First impressions are everything, so you should be looking to gain much insight as possible – it won’t hurt to have some questions and general talking points prepared beforehand. You might wish to discuss some of the company’s previous work in further detail, for example, or to find out about the team that would be working on your project. During the chemistry meeting, feel free to ask for a copy of the agency’s terms to ensure that everything sits well.

Take the plunge

Although you’ll be looking out for an agency that shows a clear understanding of the project and its goals, your chosen winner shouldn’t always be the agency that offers the quickest answers. The agency you hire should be the one that you feel comfortable working with and placing your trust in. And let’s not forget how one initial project can form the basis of a long-lasting relationship from which many more creative ventures follow. Make the right choice and this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

Think you’ve found the right creative agency in Think!Creative? Get in touch with our team today to get started.

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How to Choose the Right Creative Agency

Paul Hough

Creative Director

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