Finding the right creative agency for your business can be a game-changer. But where do you start? From online searches and review sites to networking and events, this article walks you through six simple tactics you can use to explore your options.
Understanding the types of services that can deliver on your design requirements is a critical first step toward choosing a creative agency. Once you have this nailed down, your next step is actually finding the right design partner for your business.
And it’s worth doing some digging to get this just right. More than creating great-looking visuals, the right design partner will understand your brand’s voice, tone and visual language to communicate your values and connect with your target audience.
A creative agency that truly understands your brand will help you deliver a consistent and compelling narrative across every touchpoint, from your website and social media graphics to swag and event materials.
Searching for a creative agency can be a daunting process, especially since there’s no Tinder for design agencies—yet.
But there are resources and they’re close at hand, maybe even closer than you think.
You can also use a checklist for your search—and apply this criteria in conjunction with your search results to create a detailed comparison.
1. Leverage your network (ask colleagues and friends). This is the most straightforward way to find an agency. Simply ask colleagues, mentors and friends for their recommendations. Someone in your network—or even a second level connection on LinkedIn—will have experience working with a range of different design agencies.
2. Use search engines and social media. You probably got here by searching for a creative agency (hooray, SEO!). Search engines, like Google, and social media platforms, like LinkedIn and Instagram, are fantastic places to start. (If you want to see how an agency approaches video, head to TikTok and YouTube.)
3. Check out portfolio sites and design blogs. Where do designers and agencies show off their work? Check out sites like Dribbble, Behance and Smashing Magazine to discover designers and agencies whose work stands out to you. These aren’t your only options either. If you have a design style in mind, you’ll likely find it has its own site or blog.
4. Explore directory sites and agency lists. An extension of online searches, using phrases like “directory of creative agencies” or “top creative agencies in [city/region]” will give you results that include both directory sites, like Clutch, and list-style blog posts.
5. Attend a design event. Seeing is one thing. Experiencing is another. If you can, try attending an industry event like Adobe MAX or South by Southwest (SXSW) to meet potential design agency partners IRL. Watch for speakers or panelists whose design philosophies align with your brand’s vision. Time or travel budget a bit tight? Many of these events also offer online passes and they’ll all share recordings of speaker sessions.
6. Take a look at testimonials and case studies. Many agencies will have case studies built into their websites. Not only will they help you understand what each agency does, you’ll get a feel for their approach. There will also likely be customer quotes throughout each agency’s website, but you can also check review sites like Trustpilot and G2. For more local agencies, you can check with the Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
Once you’ve found an agency partner that’s the right fit, you’ll quickly see why it was worth the time and effort you invested into your search. Acting as an extension of your team, your creative agency will help you:
Look in the mirror and repeat, “My brand deserves the best design.” You’re looking for a design agency that will be there for the long run, not just a one-off project. Be sure to ask questions and reach out to the agencies themselves to learn more.
Alex is a freelance writer and newsletter aficionado based in Waterloo, Ontario. When he’s not writing for clients, he’s putting together TL;WR, a weekly culture and events newsletter his mom says is excellent. Alex has worked with some of Canada’s largest tech companies in PR, marketing and communication roles. Connect with him on LinkedIn to chat or get ideas on what to do this weekend in Waterloo.
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