How To Choose A Creative Agency

Your creative team will design your branding and marketing materials, so you need to find the perfect agency to help drive your business forward.

Finding the right creative agency is often a big challenge for a business - where do you start?! Your creative team will design your branding, marketing materials and social assets such as posts, ads, profile pictures and cover photos, so you need to find the perfect agency to help drive your business forward.

When selecting a new creative agency, one of the most important steps is making sure that the team is the right fit for your business and vice versa. The creative agency will also need to make sure their agency model / client base / experience is a good fit for your brand / company.

Get your ducks in a row

Before approaching your chosen creative agency(ies) (you probably already have a few in mind), make sure you are fully aware of what it is your brand represents, and what your goals and objectives are for the future.

This is important, as it helps you and the agency define clear KPIs which can be reviewed as the partnership develops.

The pitch process

Once you have shortlisted the list of agencies you would like to approach to potentially work with, it is always good to have a live brief which you can ask them to respond to. This will show their approach to the brief and their initial ideas. That way you will be able to get an understanding of how they work as a business and how they are likely to work with you moving forward.

Also, ask to see their credentials (creds) so you can see previous work they have done for other clients and understand the sectors they have experience in.

After each agency has presented back their response, you will have a clear preference and you can award the work to the winning agency. It is also good practice to give constructive feedback to the agencies who were unsuccessful – they can then learn and develop from the experience.

Getting the best working relationship with your creative agency

Honesty and respect from both parties is imperative. Within the ‘creative world’ it is very much opinion. Respecting these opinions and listening and working together is vital for a successful output.

Regular meetings, either face-to-face or on video calls, are key to client / agency relationships. Aligning regularly on large projects is important to ensure deadlines are met and creative output is on brief. Plus it is inevitable that briefs will develop and change, so both parties being part of that journey will make the process run smoothly and make sure that success is guaranteed.

Many agencies will take you on the creative journey with them, so that the ideas develop and grow with you, and align perfectly with your business objectives and goals. This also helps reduce ‘nasty surprises’ and aids with tight turnaround times (there will always be some!).

A good agency will identify opportunities and elevate these, making proactive suggestions to bring value to the partnership - not just being reactive to briefs.

Keep an eye out for...

Nothing throws up red flags like working with a new creative agency that received a brief and didn’t ask questions, or request a catch up, to ensure the brief is understood. The longer an agency works on your projects and briefs, the more they will understand the brand and less questions will be needed, but initially – expect a lot of questions.

You get out what you put in. A well written brief is likely to have a much better response than a very vague / loose brief. Imagine the reader knows nothing about your business / requirements, so take a step back and fill in all the detail. Be mindful that creativity and thought takes time, so the longer lead times for creative briefs the better.

To summarise:

  • Don't just pick a 'yes' agency. This will only be detrimental to your business in the long term. Pick an agency that you are comfortable with to challenge ideas, interrogate briefs and work ‘with’ you, not ‘for’ you.
  • The creative agency is there to help you, but ultimately it is up to you to come prepared. Clear briefs and clear objectives / KPIs need to be set from the start to ensure work is measurable when completed.
  • As soon as a relationship becomes reactive rather than proactive, this is when you need to review your agency partnership, whether that is a new or old relationship.
  • Communication is key
  • Have fun, and enjoy working with creative specialists!

Advice on kickstarting your creative agency journey:

"First of all, you need to meet the team face-to-face. Ask to see examples of their work, and their ‘creds’, and from this you will be able to see how they approach briefs and their style of work / outputs. By visiting their premises, you will see how big they are as an agency and get a snapshot of the office vibe and equipment being used by the team.

Ask the agency to respond on a brief, and you will then see first-hand how they manage this process with you, i.e., interrogating the brief, asking questions before starting, and making sure they have high-res assets from the word go. Do they just send the response, or present back via presentation? This is the only way you will know if they are the agency for you and if they work in a way which is convenient and seamless to fit with your business."

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