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The Challenges of Working with a Design Agency

Graphic design
June 17, 2022
8 minutes

0%

A design agency is often praised as the holy grail of graphic design. This goes for working for a design agency, as well as working with one. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it may not all be sunshine and rainbows.

Setting your own hours, working from anywhere, and being your own boss sounds like the dream for many. But with a staggering 90% of graphic designers working as freelancers, competition is tough. No wonder getting a more stable income is getting a lot of rep these days.

Working for a design agency is widely considered a popular career decision. This even goes beyond graphic designers; many people in search of design instantly think a design agency is the best option.

Don’t get us wrong. For some designers and business owners, it may be the best option to go with a reputable design agency. However, for some, this may not be the case. Let’s look at the challenges of working with and for 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.

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In addition to aesthetics, 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 hefty costs from the get-go, it’s not a viable option for many.

Working for a design agency

When you’re fresh out of college, as a graphic designer, you have a tough choice to make. How and where do you want to seek employment?

Working for big design firms may sound like the ultimate goal. But, as with anything, there are some cons attached to it. Let’s look at the pros and cons of working for design agencies.

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Pros

We’ll start off with the good stuff. There are a few reasons why a designer could fit into a graphic design agency very well.

If your portfolio consists of empty pages and you haven’t found your style yet, you can earn your stripes at a graphic design agency. Agencies reel in various projects where different skills need to be applied. So as an agency designer, you’ll be able to brush up on those skills and create a portfolio, stat.

Up next, there is the excitement of working in a fast-paced environment. No day will be the same as the previous one, and you’ll always have plenty of design challenges on your to-do list.

Lastly, working for a design agency is a great choice if you’re a social butterfly. You’ll be part of a team of like-minded creatives working towards the same goals. Sharing skills, advice, and banter is common practice.

Cons

Sounds like quite the deal so far, right? But let’s look at the bigger picture and go over the cons of working for a graphic design agency.

We mentioned the fast-paced environment as a pro. There is a dark side to this in terms of stress. At an agency, you can’t control your own workload. Clients pay a pretty penny for top-notch service, so missing a deadline is out of the question. This makes for a demanding gig where stress levels can reach great heights.

Additionally, you’re working with a set budget that has the hours of a designer calculated beforehand. This means there is little room for taking your time to pour in your heart and soul. Time is money, so this can lead to limitations on the quality you deliver.

Which leads to the next point; overtime. If you have to meet a deadline the next day or make a mistake that needs to sorting, you’re looking at overtime. Unfortunately, you’ll work these hours more often than not for free.

Working with a design agency

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 way 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.

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Pros

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.

The smooth process is all due to experience. Most reputable design agencies have been around for a while and, therefore, know exactly what they’re doing. You can see them as a well-oiled machine that sorted any kinks in the cable long before offering their services to you.

Cons

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. We’ve mentioned this before, but due to the costs of a design agency, they are mainly used for one-off projects. 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.

For just a logo, a small design agency could charge anywhere from $5000 to $30,000, whereas 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.

Find out how and where to outsource your graphic design needs

Download our guide to find a solution that suits your business

An alternative option

Suppose you need graphics for your social media and your landing page, website, and advertising banners. Considering that your offer regularly changes and your social accounts need regular upkeep, 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.

Working with an unlimited design company has one big benefit: its predictability. You pay a flat monthly fee, and for that fee, you can request as much design as you’d like.

There is a personal aspect to it since you’ll work with designers long-term rather than for a fleeting project. 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!

Working with ManyPixels

We’re ManyPixels, and we believe finding a high-quality, affordable, and reliable stream of design should be a breeze.

With our 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.

Learn how to get started with our unlimited graphic design service

Download the ManyPixels User Guide — you’ll find all the useful information there

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.

Working for ManyPixels

We’re always seeking great people to join our growing team. If you’re looking for a remote opportunity in the graphic design field, check out our careers here. Work from anywhere you want; you only need a stable internet connection and a knack for amazing design, of course!

Whether you’re a designer or a business owner looking for design, ManyPixels offers an all-in-one solution. If you want in, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Guest Writer: Simone Timmers

June 17, 2022

Simone is a Dutch writer, currently living in Malawi. Whenever not stringing words together, or on her yoga mat, she is preferably exploring any off the beaten track she can find.