Agency ? Freelancer ? Small studio ? What’s the best way to find a graphic designer for your business ? You might be looking for an associate who can work with you on ongoing projects, or perhaps you need a one-off design for a brochure or annual report. You might be ready for a brand refresh, but not sure where to start.
Like all business services, you want to find a quality product at a price you’re prepared to pay. A graphic designer is a supplier like any other – and so you also need to think about building a long-term relationship, looking at the wider ways they can support you, and considering how the right designer can support your business growth.
One thing’s for sure – and I’ve seen a number of clients have this issue – going for the cheapest, fastest option often results in having to do it again – and spend more money. Taking the time to find the right fit for your business saves you time and money in the long term – and will give you great design results too.
Here are some of the most common questions I’m asked :
Do you have the right skills for my design project ?
This is where an online portfolio is really useful. It gives you a clear idea of the range of work the designer does, and also helps you see how they create different styles, moods and approaches for each client. If everything looks the same, beware.
A good designer doesn’t put pen to paper straight away – they ask you questions about your business, your audience, your personality and your ambitions. And you should see those questions reflected in the designs they produce.
Are you big enough to handle my work ?
Larger companies are often tempted towards marketing and design agencies, because they offer a range of services. That’s fine, and in many cases, it’s right for the business. Bear in mind, however, that you may not get a senior designer on your project, and that sometimes the ‘big team’ nature of an agency may not deliver the clarity of thought and imagination your project needs.
A smaller studio relies on its reputation for delivering quality work on time and shouldn’t over-commit.
Can you support other marketing functions ?
You might discount a freelance graphic designer because you need more than one set of skills. I often put together a team to work on a wider project. For example, I have a network of printers, web developers, photographers, social media experts and other creatives who can work on your project together.
New clients come to me after writing a brief for a small project initially – a tester, if you like. If they feel I am a good fit for their business, then the client is happy to have an ongoing working relationship with me – and my contacts – on much bigger propositions.
You could be anyone – how do I know you have the right experience ?
Well, that’s true. Pretty much anyone could set up a half-decent website and start selling graphic design services. That’s why it’s always good to make contact and have a chat with the designers you’re considering. Someone who just says ‘Yep, I can do that’ with no questions asked probably hasn’t got the experience or motivation to do the job you want. You need someone who is interested in your business and what you want to achieve – someone who wants you to be 100% happy with the outcome.
Would I be better going to a design agency with a bigger team ?
Maybe ! That all depends on the scope of your project, how much money you have to spend and what skills you’re looking for. Does more people = better work ? Not necessarily. More people definitely equals more budget, though, and you may find yourself competing with other clients for the account manager’s attention.
With a small studio, you have direct access to the designer, and so things get done faster – and better. But lots of businesses work very successfully with agencies, and I always point clients in that direction if I think it’s better for them.