How-to: Ensuring a Positive Agency experience

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How-to: Ensuring a Positive Agency experience

By Samantha Brooks on 7 September, 2016

71 words about digital designers
Creative and graphic design teams draw upon both artistic and scientific knowledge when developing effective marketing pieces for their clients. Senior designers spend many years training and gaining experience in specific areas of design, and digital designers are no exception. Often spending more than 10 hours a day in front of a computer, an agency-based digital designer is responsible for turning a client’s creative brief into something exceptionally good-looking, and effective.

A client’s vision
Most clients present to an agency with some kind of preconceived vision about how their potential digital marketing collaterals will look. While this is normal, it is critical for you, as a business owner, manager or marketing coordinator, to keep an open mind when working with a new designer. A good practice is to limit what you envision to a couple of specific features, not visuals. The whole reason for engaging an experienced creative is so you can take advantage of their experience, creativity and knowledge. Sometimes, when a client imposes their own ideas upon a designer too heavily, this works to restrict the designer’s creativity and the final product ends up being something less than exceptional. Nobody wants that.

Briefing the creative team
In agency-land, most often your account coordinator (a strategist) will take your creative briefs, rather than a designer. While that is the preferred method in most cases, sometimes the designer will directly accept the brief. The latter is made more possible after you have developed a relationship with the designer directly, through working together a few times.

The reason behind the preference for a strategist to take the brief is two-fold. Firstly, they are better trained to first consider how to get the outcome you want from your marketing collateral. For example, they consider what copy your collateral should present and are able to pluck out key calls to action, critical information and will have a strong understanding of your target market, without having to think about it for a long time. Essentially they can reverse engineer the outcome you need, so the designer can design something appropriate. Secondly, strategists are able to accurately translate your creative vision and business goals to the designer. There is a known divide between strategy and creative thinkers, and that’s why a collaborative approach is the preferred approach for successful marketing agencies, including Fuse Agency.

Tips on how to brief in a creative job
Most marketing strategists and digital designers will ask you a set of established questions, upon which answers they will develop a creative brief for your job. Your answers to these questions will shape the final product, so be sure to take care when briefing. It will cost you more time and money if you later decide to majorly change a design once it is near completion, and that can easily be avoided by providing a clear brief, with all the information you have available from the beginning of the job. It is always a great idea to have a few samples of designs you like, to show the creative team as you brief them, as a benchmark for the type and standard of design that appeals to you. While it’s imperative to ensure the design meets your target market and engages them, a good designer recognises that you are the owner/manager of your business and have a thorough understanding of what has worked in the past. As such, it’s important that you express what you like and dislike in design, for your business’s brand and collaterals, during initial briefing. Don’t forget to tell the creative team how you want to receive the final design files, or if they’re to be printed, what kind of paper stock and any embellishments you want (e.g. foiling, spot UV, cut outs, etc).

What to do when you’re asked to provide feedback
A creative design team will send you a draft design and request feedback on it, before finalising the design. If you have not provided any copy (text, words), or if you have provided incomplete copy, then it is standard practice for a design to use placeholder text and/or images (e.g. Lorem ipsum). When asked for feedback, focus on the whole piece and start your response by giving some overarching feedback, for example “I really like the layout, but the green is a bit too strong for me, can we tone it down to a lighter colour?”. Then, provide some more specific notes, for example, “The box third down on the right side is too small, and the heading uses a font I don’t like, can I have something more cursive?”

Always put your feedback in writing, preferably in an email or editable document, like a Google Doc, where you and the designer can make notes back to each other, in case clarification on a point is required. If there is only one small change, it’s appropriate to call the creative team, but not for multiple changes, you will only be shooting yourself in the foot if the team misses something you gleaned over too quickly.

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