Set yourself up for success: four questions to ask a creative agency
The decision to work with a creative branding agency is a big one. After all, it requires handing over your brand identity to new people and trusting their perspective and vision. For this reason, it’s imperative that you are on the same page. But how can you know you’ll see eye-to-eye? Simple. During your initial conversations, ask the agency these four questions to get the most value out of the process and gain the insight you need to move forward.
Question #1: Do you have the ability to meet our timeline?
In some ways, this is the most important question because it sets expectations for the entire brand design experience. Getting the timing right and knowing the agency has the creative muscle to execute your project is the foundation of a strong working relationship. You can also go a step further and ask these follow-up questions: How much time do we have to give feedback? How much time do we have to give approval? How much time do you need to do your best work? The answers will help you assess if both teams can keep the project moving forward and toward your shared goal.
Question #2: What information do you need from me?
Assets, content, backstory, market research, bios…there’s a lot of information that an agency will need to effectively tell your brand story. It’s in the best interest of everyone to know these details ahead of time. The more information you can provide, the more a branding agency can get an inside look at what makes the brand tick (and, also, what’s missing the mark.) By knowing what’s expected on your end, you’re making it easier to hit the ground running and avoid any time consuming hiccups along the way.
Question #3: Can I see brand creative examples?
Now’s the time to see an agency’s work and ask questions about how the agency arrived at the final brand creative. This is also an opportunity to gain some deeper knowledge on brand storytelling and identity design. Learn about the rounds of work, how the creative process is iterative, and how the agency expands a brand’s language (beyond a logo.) You can also take this moment to show inspiration and explain what success would look like for you. Everyone loves a good benchmark!
One insider tip is to avoid asking for your brand to look like someone else’s. (Aka: Can you make the design look like this example?) Part of the reason you’re hiring a creative agency is to make you stand out — not blend in.
Question #4: What experience do you have with my industry and demographic?
Different industries have different needs, which is why it’s important to fully understand a creative agency’s experience, past client work, and plan of action. If the agency doesn’t have the specific industry and demographic experience, then ask what strategic and creative process they follow to gain insight. There’s a possibility that they will offer a completely unique perspective and will find a novel direction for your brand identity.
You also want to find out if the creative agency has a background in the specific marketing services you’re interested in. If you mainly want web development, and that’s not the agency’s strong suit — you want to discover that now. Part of this conversation can be talking about market and demographic research and competitive analysis. Give details and make sure the agency has a game plan to appeal to your industry and audience.
How a creative agency answers the above questions will reveal their competency, creativity and personality. These questions are the very beginning of achieving an exceptional final product. So start asking the questions and keep an open mind to the discoveries ahead.
Parting thought for the day…
“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” – Eugene Ionesco