How do I know whether a designer is a good fit for me? - the essentials of finding the right branding agency for your business

Finding a brand designer. It can feel overwhelming, right? If you've not worked with a creative agency before, where do you start? How do you know a good one from a bad one? What happens if they design something I don't like? How much should I expect to pay? It can certainly feel like a bit of a minefield. 

Not every branding agency is right for every business - most agencies will have their own style, their own approach and a unique skills set which might make them ideal for one client and entirely unsuitable for another. No matter what business you're in, I hope that this post will be helpful if you're considering hiring a branding agency.

1/ Does their portfolio excite you? You're buying creative work - you should expect any agencies website to be brimming with beautiful examples of logo designs and brand styling projects which are inspirational, stylish and executed with flair. 

2/ Do they have a good track record of working with businesses like yours? You don't necessarily need to find an agency that specialises in your specific industry (in fact, many business owners prefer to hire agencies that don't specialise in a particular sector as they feel they'll have a jaded view on their business), but you do need to find a design partner who can demonstrate an ability to work with businesses who share your vision and ambition. At Ditto, we don't specialise in any one type of industry, but we do very well with smaller businesses, start-ups and solopreneurs as we're so familiar with the challenges that these people face.

3/ Are they excited to work with you? To me, this is mega. Whether you're hiring a builder or a brand designer, you want to feel that the person you're speaking to actually wants your business, don't you? The speed at which they send your proposal, the energy you feel from them when you speak on the phone - these are all a great indication of how dedicated they are and what sort of service you'll get when you hire them. Revealing details of your business is quite a personal thing: you need to feel that there's a genuine bond with whoever you hire, and that they demonstrate a respect and understanding of your business.

4/ Do they have a clearly defined process? In my experience, if there's one thing that ensures happy relations and beautiful results, it's having a clear design process. Your branding agency should be able to tell you what's going to happen, when it's going to happen, and what to expect at each stage. Be wary of any designer who works without a clear process: it's likely to be an unpredictable (and lengthy) ride.

5/ Are they affordable? This is the trickiest thing. You'll find decent freelance designers who'll put together a smart looking logo for £500. You'll also find big agencies who want to charge upwards of £15,000. While of course price is important, it shouldn't be the deciding factor. Branding should be an investment which will help you to attract more clients or charge more - it should pay for itself over time. While the cheapest is rarely the best, you're not guaranteed an exceptional finish simply by writing a bigger cheque. Experience and attitude are what matters most.