Whether you’re just starting to grow your business or you’ve been around for a while, you should be thinking about really putting some effort into your branding. There are options out there and they each fulfill a specific need. If you’re wondering if hiring a design agency is right for you, you may have some concerns. We’re debunking some of the common myths that surround design agencies and the truth behind them.
Design is Just for Looks
It’s easy for one to think that design is just a pretty way to get your message out. It takes more than artistry to put together a strategic design. It takes knowledge of how colors affect psychology, how lines draw the eye to where you want people to focus, how font choice can affect readability, etc.
A design agency is a great choice when you need more than art work, but a design strategy that conveys your brand voice and message to your audience. If your design doesn’t take into account market trends, personas and your personal brand, you aren’t going to get the results you’re looking for.
Freelancers are a Better Option
Freelancers can be a great option for small projects where you know exactly what you want. Because they don’t know your brand inside and out, they can only produce what you request. Some freelancers will take the time to read your branding guidelines and make the effort to understand their clients, so make sure if you go this route that you set proper expectations.
There are a couple problems with freelancers though. They are just one person and if they have more than one client/project at a time, they could be stretched thin. And unless you are hiring only one freelancer consistently, your designs will be inconsistent from one designer to the next.
Design agencies are typically made up of a department head, sometimes a supervisor and multiple artists. If one artist is busy with a different project, another can step in while supervisors ensure that the design is consistent with the overall brand portfolio. Agencies provide partnerships with their clients, brand consistency and time management so you get what you need, when you need it.
Agencies are Too Expensive
You may be tempted to hire an inexpensive freelancer to just get the job done. As we discussed, design isn’t just for looks. Design agencies are a more expensive option, however there are a couple things to keep in mind.
You are paying for knowledge and experience. Years of schooling and ongoing education are trademarks of a good design agency and with multiple designers, you get combined experience and specializations that couldn’t come from a freelancer.
Bad design can be even more expensive than the initial cost. Let’s say you put thousands of dollars into a marketing campaign and the design fell flat with less than ideal results. You’ve just wasted that marketing spend. If you have good design, backed by data and a knowledgeable team, you’re much more likely to see improved ROI.
Retainers are Bad Business
Design retainers have been around for a long time and there’s a reason for that. Some agencies are switching to a per-project basis and a lot of agencies provide both options. Both have their pros and cons, but there are some compelling reasons why design agencies prefer the retainer model.
You pay for a set amount of time. That means agencies set aside that time for you as a done deal. You have secured those hours and no matter how many projects the agency is handling, your projects will be worked on for those hours. That also means, if you’re on a per-project model, the agency may not be able to handle your project in the time you need it by. First come, first serve.
You get reduced hourly rates. The more hours you pay for, the less you have to pay for them. Design agencies typically have a set rate and reduce that rate for retainers and offer a reduced rate for going over those hours when needed.
There is consistency in your design budget. Instead of working out how many projects you can afford that month or going back and accounting for every separate bill, you will have one monthly fee that you can rely on. It makes for easy budgeting.
Only Large Marketing Agencies Can Deliver
There’s a misconception out there that to really make a big impact, you need to hire a well-known, large marketing agency from metropolises such as LA and New York. There are reasons why large corporations hire them of course. They got to where they are by being great agencies. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t great smaller agencies where you are.
Large marketing agencies don’t necessarily have better ideas and more skilled artists. Ideas come from everywhere and not everyone can work for those agencies, so talented designers work for all types of agencies. What really matters is how well they fit the needs of your business.
Small agencies tend to be more agile, able to adapt to changing deadlines and shifting directions. They also take a more personal role in your organization, really getting to know the intricacies of their client and can produce designs that not only fit the directive, but the client’s personal tastes as well.
I Can Hire Someone In-House Instead
In-house designers can be an option. They are always there when you need them and you have complete control over each project. But then you always have complete control over each project. When anyone works on one thing all the time, they tend to get tunnel vision. The designs get predictable and stale.
Design agencies offer an outside perspective and keep things fresh. Multiple viewpoints from multiple design artists bring new creative ideas and push to make designs better than the last one.
Hiring a design agency is a great way to boost your marketing efforts. We’ve expanded on some of the concerns people have in hiring an agency and hopefully even shown why an agency may not necessarily be the right fit for your business or organization. Take some time to sit down with an agency or two or three, to assess their skills and perspectives. Just like hiring an employee, every design agency is unique and finding the right partner can make all the difference.