A creative marketing studio can help you develop important marketing materials to promote your brand and fulfill your sales initiatives so it’s important to get the most from your relationship with the agency. Communication is key. (Surprise, surprise, right?) Following are some key points to consider when collaborating with your creative agency.

Be clear with your goals

Deliverables and timelines, as well as other specifications, are generally always easy to define at the start of the project. What is often less clear is how to achieve those deliverables and what constraints are in play within your company that will affect the process. In the beginning take time to clearly define your company’s goals, brand vision and aesthetic sensibilities that will be considered when evaluating work.

Contrary to popular belief, designers are not rogue artists looking to satisfy their creative urges on someone else’s dime. And good marketing is not subjective. Well-defined parameters and consistent communication will get the project off on the right foot and ensure that deliverables meet expectations.

Be as clear as possible about your business goals. Tell your designer specifically how you are working to grow your business and what the agency can do to facilitate that process.

Share customer profiles and other marketing data that you’ve collected. Describe your company’s brand vision as best you can. While this may be hard to put into words, “I’ll know when I see it” won’t suffice. Use examples from your daily life, not just competitive examples. While the agency will do its own research, they don’t walk in your shoes. You have valuable insight that will take the project to the next level.

Talk problem: solution

You wouldn’t go to the doctor and tell her how to treat you. You are relying on her training, years of experience and passion for her trade to provide the best diagnosis and cure for you ailment. Similarly, if you want to get the most from your agency, don’t put them in a box by telling them how to do their work. A little exposure to home desktop publishing and DIY websites may have misled some of us to believe that we can do the work at the highest level.

An experienced design agency will take pride in the processes they’ve developed to provide effective creative solutions. Short-cutting the process will sacrifice quality and could cause issues further down the road if due diligence was not allowed.

Be ready for some give and take

Your designers are working to balance your expectations with best practices that have been proven across all industries. There may be a learning curve on both sides. If the initial studies don’t wow you, allow your agency the opportunity – with clear feedback – to refine their work. Expect them to incorporate your feedback, but allow them to infuse their own ideas. Properly empowered, your design studio will become an invaluable creative problem-solver.

Get consensus along the way

The earliest phases of a project are usually the hardest. Working to align the creative concepts with your expectations can be a pain-staking process, especially when designers and stakeholders have not worked together before.

Make sure that each phase of approved work is acceptable to you. That doesn’t mean it has to be perfect, but overall approach and direction should be on point.

Voice any concerns that you have and come to a resolution before moving on to the next step. Don’t overlook the detail-oriented early phases of a project – like site wireframes or thumbnail sketches – in anticipation of the full-color renderings to come later. Redirects late in the game are usually costly.

This project will increase your workload

From beginning to end, the design project will require your attention. In the discovery phase, you will be providing background data and answering questions. During creative development, you will need to gather internal input and provide timely and thoughtful feedback. And in production, you will be focused on numerous details that require last minute attention.

Momentum is a key component of a successful design project. Even if managing the design project is something that was temporarily added to your job description, make it a priority to be available to your designers. Long delays in the process will be detrimental to the flow, stunting the creative process and potentially contributing to scope creep.

Allow your design studio to interface with the decision makers. Don’t play telephone with your input. The intuitive and insightful elements of the feedback loop are lost when those doing the work can not directly communicate with the main stakeholders. If it’s more than one person, make sure that they provide a consensus direction so the designer is not trying to merge divergent ideas.

Empower your creative agency

If your agency has earned your trust, invite them to the table as your business partner. A professional design studio can be so much more than a third party vendor. Good designers appreciate being a part of the long term plan and should not be afraid of some accountability.

At Kramer Design, we believe that working with a design studio can be some of the most rewarding moments in your day. If you’d like to talk with some of our clients who have invited us to become their marketing “partners,” let us know.