Working with any design agency is both an exciting and worthwhile experience. For the client utilizing the service it’s the step in the right direction to bring your ideas to life and project the image you wish to portray. It is important to understand the process to ensure completion in a timely manner, with a desired outcome and to minimize your costs. With that in mind we created the following guide to working with an agency.
1. Pre-Production Meeting
The beginning of any project usually includes a pre-production meeting with the agency and the client either in person or over the phone. Such time will particularly surround around your idea and the pieces needed to make it a reality. In the realm of design, it’s most important to lay everything on the table with this initial meeting. This will be the base line for all future work and decisions for the project.
Topics to cover in pre-production meeting:
- Project type, purpose, audience and format – For example is it an announcement for facebook, print collateral, a video for your website or cable T.V. etc.
- Timeline and Budget – Projected timelines are important, you must consider the agencies current workload and turnaround time and see if that will match with your target dates or deadlines. Also, it is important to discuss budget, although we would love to spend 40 hours on one flyer, the client may have a different budget in mind. This is particularly important for hourly rate projects.
- Style Examples – It is always helpful is you can show or send examples of similar work whether it be something you like or dislike so we can get a sense of your design style
- Copy & Content – If the copy and content (like images) are to be provided by the client and not one of our writers or photographers, it is important to have all of that upfront before we start the project, and thoroughly reviewed before we begin to minimize the amount of revisions and billable hours
- Branding guidelines – If your company has a style sheet in place for specific fonts to use, color codes etc. that would be good to share at this point
2. Creative Time
Following your initial meeting the necessity of the agency to embrace creative elements is key. The best advice one can give in this process is patience. Although we like to treat each client as if they are our only client, the truth is there are most likely a number of projects in the que ahead of you. A realistic timeline should have been discussed in the pre-production meeting.
Creative time is the time the client does not see, it involves searching through stock photos, experimenting with fonts, layouts, colors, graphics etc. The client sees the end result, but they don’t see all the failed versions leading up to it. However, the trust you have with your chosen design team during the creative time will come through with the time and patience you afford them.
Creative time includes:
- Industry research – We may spend some time looking at what similar organizations do in their creative
- Client research – We may spend some time thinking about the project from the point of view of your target audience
- Copy or script development – If part of the project; we will need time to develop your message, copy and or script, or possibly edit what you have provided
- Photo research – If not using custom photography we must spend time searching through our stock services for applicable royalty free images and graphics
- Rough Layout – We spend time roughly moving the elements around to find a layout that will work
- First Draft(s) – Once the rough layout is in place we will refine the finer details of design and prepare the first draft files for output and review
3. Review Process
First drafts are an exciting moment for both the agency and the client. It affords both sides to finally come together again after the initial meeting for a review. When possible, we would like to meet in person to review, but sometimes this is done via email or file sharing services.
It’s important to have an open mind if this first draft is not up to par with what you envisioned. We realize design styles differ vastly and we are open to criticism. However, if we feel strongly about something we may offer our opinion as to why it is the way it is. But ultimately, we are here to make you happy and will revise as much as needed to the point where you are proud of the work created.
Steps of the review process:
- Review 1st Drafts w/ Client– In Person or via Email
- Client Feedback – We welcome your feedback on design changes, layout changes, copy edits etc. We do ask that you thoroughly review the project and organize all of your feedback to send at once to avoid unnecessary rounds of revisions
Here is when communication on the drafts get further direction towards the final product. This gives the client a real chance for them to voice their opinion and it is very much appreciated. The agency would welcome this input because they want what is best for the client in its entirety.
- Review client feedback – Once your project is in process, when you send your revisions you will be bumped to the beginning of the que to have those handled in a timely fashion
- Edits – We will take your feedback, ask for clarification if needed, make the necessary edits, and send the revised version, hopefully for final approval
- Final Approval – At this point we will ask for an official final approval. It is important that you review thoroughly, including all copy and contact information. If a print related project after final approval we will send to print, if custom web design we will add to the que for phase two development, if video related we will output and upload the final full HD files.
5. Final Product
Depending on the scope and breath of the project the final product may come in the form of print, digital, or some other medium. This is what both the client and the agency has worked for from the start and what will be delivered to the greatest entity; the customer which is why we created this guide to working with an agency. We hope you enjoy it.