How to choose a design or digital agency – Part 3


Agencies use a range of terms or disciplines to describe who they are or what they do; words such as Branding, Digital, Mobile, and Outdoor for example. Some agencies are ‘multi-disciplined’ whilst others specialise. You may seek a range of capabilities under one roof to save you time working with multiple agencies on campaigns that are intrinsically linked.

Something else to consider is that the future of agencies is all about marrying any creativity with data, meaning your agency will have to make sure they have staff on board that can dissect your analytics, data and insight in creative ways to make your marketing communications stronger than ever.


It’s important that the agency you choose actually listens to what you have to say and are prepared to take the time to understand your company’s objectives. During the design process, you will want to know how things are getting on. The best design agencies should keep you in the loop at all times; regularly keeping in contact in person, over the phone or email. You may want to liaise with a single point of contact. By working with a designated account manager, you always know who to turn to when you need anything. But you may prefer to have access to the whole team and the design studio if you want to make a quick change to something they’re working on.


Unsurprisingly, larger agencies are more likely to have larger clients with bigger budgets, and charge more than smaller agencies. London based agencies also charge more than regional agencies in order to cover higher salary and premises costs. Equally, smaller agencies have a lower cost base in terms of overheads so can afford to charge lower rates for their work. You may want to hire a prominent agency, but their fees may exceed what you can afford. For smaller companies that don’t have a big marketing budget, smaller creative agencies can be a good fit and really help stretch the budget.

You should choose an agency that is transparent with their estimates, quotes and invoicing. Check everything is clear and broken down. Ensure you understand exactly, what you’re paying for, and that there are no hidden charges? The best agencies will make it clear exactly what you’re getting for your money, if the fee includes a certain amount of corrections, and what fees additional work will incur.

Meeting the agencies 

Ideally, the next step is to meet the agencies you have shortlisted. Depending on how fast you need to make a decision, this may take the form of an informal presentation of their portfolio and talking through your project, or a more formal presentation of their credentials. Alternatively, you could just ask them to write a proposal or supply an estimate and send it in.


At the end of the day, you will need to work together as a team and get the ‘right-fit’: this comes down to ‘chemistry’. Getting the best from your designers will be easy if you all get along and can work well together. If it doesn’t feel right and you don’t find a designer straight away, go back and try another selection.

Making a decision

Once you have made your choice, regardless of the process used to get to the decision, make sure you have allowed enough time to give feedback to the unsuccessful agencies. They will want to know why they were not awarded the job so that they can use this information to improve their performance next time.

GWCM are members of the Design Business Association, the UK industry’s trade association. We share a set of values and beliefs with other design consultancies and design-driven businesses. As members, we represent a vibrant community of talented designers, everything we do is about effective design and being more accountable. The Design Business Association members stand out in the crowd and think about the bigger picture. We care about raising standards and improving the perception of our industry and recognise they we have a part to play in achieving this change.

If you’re looking to get noticed, talked about or remembered, and are looking to appoint a new design or digital agency, call GWCM on 01604 638200 or email us at


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