Why you should choose your design partner carefully

Finding a design studio to work with is easy. Finding one that's right for you is rather more tricky. Choosing your design partner is a bit like starting a new relationship (bear with me...). You want to be sure that you like the same stuff, have the same style and 'get' what the other is thinking. You'll want your other half to be able to get as enthusiastic about your new idea as you are, be willing to accommodate a challenging project, to really 'get' what you're saying - and you'll definitely want to be able to communicate with them clearly and easily. So how does this translate to finding a designer? Well, if you're asking someone to work on your brand (and therefore your future success!), I'd certainly want to know that the people I'm working with are 100% on board with me and my ideas, wouldn't you? It's about more than who has the glitziest offices or lowest price point, it's about finding the right mix of people who can move your business forwards. Don't get stung by choosing the wrong team - it'll cost you dearly in the long term. So how do you go about finding the perfect match for your business? First of all, try and put price to the back of your mind. Of course your decision will be driven partly by cost, but a great designer will be worth every penny you spend with them, and will more than likely pay for themselves in the extra revenue that their fantastic work has won you. Don't be drawn in by freelancers who offer flat rate design, or agencies that offer a free creative pitch - the only reason a designer will offer either of those options is if they're desperate for work, inexperienced, or extremely naive and lacking commercial nouse. Whichever of these categories they fall in to, they won't be an attractive option when it comes to delivering results. At Ditto we refuse to pitch for free - it devalues our work and we're fortunate to win our business based on the strength of our work and reputation.

You've got to be sure that the team you'll be working with are right for you, too. If you can't easily get along with them or trust them you've got a non starter, however impressive their portfolio might be. What are the people like? Do they seem business-minded? I personally favour any business where there's a variety of characters who throw different ideas into the mix and approach the same brief from different angles. Diverse teams will always present a better range of concepts than a freelancer who works alone.

You need to be sure that the team really, really understand what goes on in your business. It's never enough to simply ask what you do - we take the time to get into the bones of our clients' businesses and establish what they do which differentiates them from their competitors. We ask loads of questions about who your clients are, why you do what you do, and where you want your business to be. We'll encourage you to think aspirationally about your business and create the design to back up your vision.

Finally, you absolutely must be happy with the strength of their portfolio. Is this the sort of business-building design that can propel your business to success - or is it just pretty images on a page? Be aware of any agency where all designs have the same look, even when they're produced for different companies. It's great to be aware of trends and fashion, but the same style across a variety of briefs displays a lack of brand understanding and flexibility. Be confident that the team will be able to adapt their work for your business; don't allow them to put their look on your brand.

So what do you think? What's your criteria for choosing the company you trust with your image? Let me know...