Should You Hire A Design Agency?
Looking to hire a professional design agency? Here’s everything you need to know about this way of outsourcing your business’s graphic design.
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A design agency is often praised as the holy grail of graphic design. But there’s a lot to consider before you decide to outsource graphic design this way.
A few decades ago, most businesses got their graphics from professional design and marketing agencies. You may have heard of big design firms, such as Pentagram and Landor, and their iconic works (WWF logo, Levi’s, and Amazon to name a few). But nowadays, there’s a vast number of design agencies catering to almost every niche and type of client.
So, let’s dig a little deeper to understand the answer to the question “what does a design agency do”. We’ll also look at the pros and cons of working with a design firm.
What is a design agency?
Before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s establish an answer to the question, “what is a design agency?”
A graphic design agency is a creative firm that focuses on the aesthetics and feel of a brand to make products and services more enticing to potential customers.
It’s often a full-service deal, with broad teams consisting of much more than just designers. Depending on the size of the design agency, they could employ anyone from project managers to copywriters.
What does a design agency do?
This leads us to the following question: “what does a design agency do?”
Of course, a design agency can take multiple graphic design services out of your hands. They usually have a team of versatile, skilled designers who can tackle any design project you dream up.
A full-service design agency can also help you strategically plan your marketing, manage public relations, and more. This depends on the scope of the design agency, which varies quite a bit per agency.
A design agency is a comprehensive and well-oiled machine with a price tag that fits the bill. If you can afford it, it’s an excellent way of accessing professionalism and experience. However, with costs racking up fast, it’s not a viable option for many.
Working with a design agency: pros & cons
Are you a non-designer interested in outsourcing your design needs? Let’s go over the details of working with a graphic design firm to see if it fits your project.
Outsourcing makes the world go round: in 2019, the global outsourcing market amounted to 92.5 billion U.S. dollars. Yep, that’s a B in front. If you missed the memo: outsourcing is the perfect waz to work smarter, not harder.
One way to outsource your graphic design needs is by hiring a design agency. Let’s face off the pros and cons.
We won’t beat around the bush. Working with a design agency grants access to a wealth of experienced and professional creatives. It’s a near guarantee for a smooth process leading up to stellar design.
Experience makes for a smooth process. Most reputable design agencies have been around for a while and, therefore, know exactly what they’re doing.
Moreover, design agencies are known for their originality. Whether they’re creating a digital product or a killer rebrand, these creative pros can push industry boundaries with memorable design.
Now that we have the pros listed, let’s consider the cons of working with an agency. First up: there may be less of a personal connection. Design agencies are mainly used for one-off projects because of the costs. This means they have a big pile of clients, and interactions are often limited.
But the biggest con of all comes in the form of the price tag attached to a graphic design agency. Design agencies don’t have an industry-wide fixed cost per graphic design service. However, it’s safe to assume you’ll look at the higher scale of pricing, especially for small businesses’ budgets.
For just a logo, a small design agency could charge anywhere from $5000 to $30,000. A renowned branding agency’s bill could go well over $100,000. With the thought in mind that you’ll need more design than you think, costs will rack up fast.
Compared to an average freelancer’s rate ($25 on average), hiring an in-house designer ($50,099 annually), or opting for unlimited design (from $550 to $1200 per month at ManyPixels), you can clearly tell a design agency is the most expensive option.
How to hire a design agency?
It must be pretty easy, right? Just google ‘graphic design agency near me”.
A digital agency can bring a lot of benefits to the table. However, it is expensive and only worth it if you hire the ideal agency for your business. Here are a few things to consider before you decide to hire a graphic design agency.
Check the scope of service
There’s a wide range of agencies out there. So, you must know what their services include. Are you doing your own market research or do you need help with that? Are copywriting services included in the offer?
Consider what you can/should outsource and which tasks are better left in-house. For example, you might want an agency to help you create a digital strategy, but you’ll keep the execution to yourself (creating and running ads, writing the copy, etc). You can also work with agencies regularly and outsource all your digital marketing.
Remote or not?
There’s a reason “design agency near me” is a popular Google search term. Many people prefer a personal experience with their brand and meeting the team members who will handle their account. This is perfectly fine.
However, this can become limiting and, potentially, cause considerable strain on your budget. Expanding your search can help you find a more suitable and affordable agency for your business. This is especially true if you're in big cities like New York, San Francisco, or LA.
Of course, whichever route you opt for you should still know who specifically is handling your account. Every agency has people of different seniority and expertise on your team, so it’s only fair to let you know who will work on your designs. This isn’t to say that an entry-level designer can’t deliver awesome designs. For complicated projects like user experience or complex websites, it's better to work with someone more experienced.
Write a detailed RFP
A request-for-proposal (RFP) is a document made by the client to explain the project. It helps the agency create a proposal with the timeline, deliverables, and budget.
When you’re urgently looking for someone to create your new website or brand identity, it can be tempting to just throw around RFPs, hoping you’ll get the best deal. But without understanding your needs, agencies can’t give you a precise estimate of the costs, So, you could easily end up with additional charges you haven’t taken into account.
Inspect their portfolio
Just like you would hiring a freelance graphic designer, it’s important to understand some of the agency’s previous projects. This will help you understand their strengths and weaknesses, and areas where your team might be a better match.
Of course, part of every agency's portfolio are detailed case studies and reviews from previous clients. You can also search for additional reviews on review platforms such as TrustPilot or G2.
Sign an NDA
Another small, but vital piece of administration when working with an agency is a non-disclosure agreement. If you’re letting someone else handle your brand design, or you want them to design products that you are selling, you should be confident this sensitive information won’t end up in the wrong hands.
This is especially important in case the agency works with freelancers. First of all, don’t freak out. This is a standard practice, which allows agencies to expand their offer and work more effectively. Many agencies even work with other agencies or graphic design firms like our unlimited design company.
Nevertheless, your NDA should outline the responsibilities of third parties, making vital information accessible to the smallest number of people.
An alternative option
Suppose you need graphics for your social media and your landing page, website, and advertising banners. This alone will already be unviable for most businesses to outsource to a design agency.
Allow us to present an alternative solution: a subscription-based unlimited design company. How do these work? Simple! You pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited graphic design requests and revisions.
It’s similar to a traditional design agency in terms of professionalism and reliability. Renowned unlimited design companies (like ManyPixels) hire vetted designers and work with dozens if not hundreds of clients daily. This means designers know how to handle their workload and deliver high-quality work.
Unlike a design agency, however, unlimited design services are extremely affordable. For well under $1,000 a month, you can get all the graphics you need delivered by a professional design team.
Finally, there’s a lot more flexibility, since you don’t need to sign any contracts or make long-term commitments. Most services allow you to cancel your subscription at any time, without any additional charges.
Ready to give subscription-based design services a try? We’ve got you!
With our affordable monthly plans, you get access to unlimited design and unlimited revisions, all for a flat monthly fee. Without the outrageous bill, you get all the perks of a design agency.
Looking for a more personal long-term working relationship?Here at ManyPixels, we even have a plan where you have access to a dedicated designer communicating with you in real-time via Slack. With every other plan, you can always request to work with a designer you’ve worked with before and liked.We’lll do our best to assign that person to the job!
Our team consists of a fine blend of skilled designers, project managers, and quality controllers. That’s why we can take any design need out of your hands and allow you to focus on what you do best.
Have any questions? Book your free 1:1 consultation and we’ll be happy to answer them!
Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.