A lot of design studios and branding agencies talk about their process and approach to projects, but lets turn the tables. Here’s what your design agency would really, really love you to do, when working together...

Before you get started

  • Research and choose the right ‘fit’ when picking an agency - look at their approach, services, portfolio, read their blog. See if they will get ‘you’ and your business, then...
  • Have a face to face meeting to see if your hunch was right.
  • Write a short (or a long) brief - this will really help you formulate your problem/needs. There’s few things a designer loves more than a well written brief!
  • Be organised - send signed contracts and initial deposits promptly so there’s no delays getting started.
  • Send assets - spare a thought for our poor inboxes and use a file sharing tool like via Dropbox or WeTransfer. This is the best way of sharing photos, logos, copywriting - anything we need to get started. 
  • Don’t ask them to free pitch.

When the project’s underway

  • Be open to ideas - you’ve just hired a creative brain or group of brains (anyone- what is the collective noun for a group of brains?!) who are experienced in their field; so make sure you tap into this resource fully.
  • Don’t have a fixed idea of the outcome - you might think you need a {digital newsletter/ad campaign/etc} to reach your customers, but your agency may not agree. A good one will challenge preconceptions and push you to consider alternatives that’ll have wider appeal for your audience. 
  • Best ideas are rarely the first ones - treat initial ideas as a conversation starter and don’t panic if they aren’t wowing you immediately. The frills will come later on.
  • Think like your audience when you review designs - your designers job is NOT to create something you like. This might sound strange, but it’s true. Our job is to create something which really speaks to your audience. It’s a bonus if you like it too, rather than a necessity. 
  • Answer emails and questions promptly - you’d be surprised how often this can hold up progress.
  • Constructive criticism - be frank if there’s something you love or loathe about the project, but do it in the right way. Most designers have grown a thick skin after a few years in industry and are 95% ok with critical feedback (no one’s perfect!)

Finishing things up

  • Pay invoices on time or even better as soon as the project is finished.
  • Testimonials are nice...
  • Referrals are too.
  • Plan ahead - if you know you have a project coming up in July, tell your design agency. They will thank you for being organised, pencil you into the diary and be ready when you need them. 
  • Design rarely succeeds as a one off project - make it part of your marketing strategy to invest in design and design-thinking on a regular basis and see the winning results.

Clients - if you can do all/most of the above, you are well on your way to reaching star client status. Your reputation will go down in history, and you may well find branding agencies queuing at your door for the next commission. 


Charlee Sully, Brand Consultant, The Usual Studio
I work across design, ideas, strategy and content, writing about branding, design, innovation and entrepreneurship. I love sushi, tea's my cuppa of choice and BBC6 music's always on. Unlike a former housemate - I do find comedy funny. 

Twitter @TheUsualStudio