How do I choose the right creative agency?

Published: July 2014

If you don’t have the expertise in-house to carry out design tasks here’s no doubt that enlisting a creative agency to help with your marketing strategies can pay dividends, but how can you be sure you’re taking on the best agency to suit your particular needs, and how do you choose the right creative agency?

Regardless of whether you need a new website, want to change your identity (re-brand) or produce some compelling printed literature, choosing a creative agency can be a stressful task. There is, however, a simple process to follow to ensure the right choice is made.

“Choosing the right agency is an essential step in your marketing process,” explained Carl Buckley, Managing Director of Urban River. “Getting it wrong can be a disastrous waste of time, money and resources. It can damage the reputation of your company.”

Carl offers advice on how to choose the right creative agency.

1. Before approaching any agencies, define your brief carefully
Brief, Research, Decision

  • Clearly establish the aims and objectives of your project.
  • Define your target audiences.
  • Calculate the budget (estimated) with which to work.
  • Think about the style and tone of your organisation. How do you want to be seen by clients?

Once you have defined your brief, you can start to research potential agencies.

2. Armed with your brief, a small amount of desk research can be undertaken

  • Use sources such as the Internet and your network of contacts.
  • What is the agency’s experience in your industry/sector, company type and location?
  • If you have access to an agencies literature (website or printed), browse this too.
  • Seek personal recommendations from your network of business and personal contacts.
  • Browse trade associations and directories.
  • Gather information to narrow the search and establish a final shortlist of agencies.

At this stage, your brief from step 1 can be issued to the shortlist of agencies. You will find that any agency worth working with will be happy to discuss your brief and present an outline proposal. If you like the proposal, organise a face-to-face meeting. This is the perfect opportunity to ask more questions.

The meeting also gives you with the opportunity to meet members of the agency team. Always try to ensure that the members of the pitch team are those that will actually work on the account should the agency be successful. Sometimes, even a simple clash of personalities can cause the breakdown of an agency/client relationship.

You may only have to meet with one agency. If their approach and the quality of their work ticks your boxes, you could end up wasting time continuing the same process with other agencies.

3. You should now understand the capabilities of each agency and make a decision.

Once the selection has been made, terms of business and small print can be drawn up.

“I always advise clients that the best way forward when working with agencies is to work with them as closely as possible – that way both parties achieve the maximum benefit and the solutions will be more successful,” concluded Carl.

Urban River are a creative digital agency in Newcastle and have created a wide range of successful campaigns, websites and brands for their clients – see some examples here.

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