With nearly 40,000 businesses in the United States classified as advertising firms, design studios or related businesses, according to Statista, there is no shortage of options when looking for a design agency partner. But there are a number of questions that businesses often ask themselves that help narrow down the field of design agency contenders. What are our goals? What is our timeline? How much are we willing to spend?

To find the best design agency fit, beyond those questions, it’s also important to think about what you shouldn’t consider. The next time you find yourself on the search for an advertising, graphic design or marketing agency, here are eight things you should avoid considering when picking a creative partner.

1. They have done work for you in the past.
For many companies, their go-to design agency when a need arises is one they already know. While the value of loyalty and familiarity shouldn’t be underestimated, it’s important to branch out in your selection process. Even if you ultimately do decide to work with an agency that you have partnered with in the past, be sure to explore other options. You may uncover fresh thinking and new perspectives that are just what your campaign needs.

2. They look cool.
It can be hard not to get sucked in by a website with stunning visuals and clever copy, but try to resist. Ad and marketing agencies tend to spend a lot of time and effort making sure that their websites are perfect – and rightly so, given that website design is often among their service offerings. This doesn’t always mean that they will do the same for their clients. Try to dig beyond the dazzling first impression and look at substance over style. After all, the best designed agency website won’t make up for missed deadlines, poor communication, overblown budgets or service offerings that don’t quite suit your business.

3. They’re first in paid search results.
It’s only natural to respect the SEO efforts that go into being the top-ranked agency in organic search results, but that respect shouldn’t extend to paid search results as well. Any design agency can open their wallet wide enough to appear at the very top of your screen. And while you may admire an agency’s AdWords strategy, particularly if you are interested in online advertising, it shouldn’t be a factor you consider in your decision process. Keep scrolling in your search or look at other methods of unearthing options, like referrals from your network.

4. Your CEO knows their CMO.
At one time or another, we have all been in this situation. Your team has a project to outsource and a well-meaning executive says that they know just the company to work with because they do yoga with their CMO or their son-in-law is the creative director. It can be hard, and sometimes impossible, to avoid executive vendor suggestions. Just be sure to not let such suggestions influence your decision too heavily. If you do end up picking the design agency your CEO recommends, do so because they are highly qualified and not because they have friends in high places.

5. They did work for your top competitor.
Your biggest competitor has a sleek new promotional video and an eye-catching new ad campaign. Upon seeing it, your first question is, “Who did their work?” Even if you take the time to find out, don’t use that as a basis for selecting the agency. You want a firm that will bring fresh ideas and insights to your business, and it can be difficult to do that when they are fresh off a job with a competing company. Your business may also have different needs than your competitor, and ones that could be better served by a different design agency.

6. They’re the biggest agency in town.
Biggest doesn’t always mean best, and size shouldn’t matter in your agency selection process. While big agencies tend to have more name recognition and can have more resources at their disposal, their very size can have a stifling effect. Today, even some of the largest corporations are choosing to partner with more boutique agencies due to the creativity, flexibility and culture these firms can offer.

7. They have the lowest fees.
Price is always an important consideration, but the phrase “You get what you pay for” is so well-known for a reason. The lowest-priced initial proposal can sometimes end up costing you more in the long run due to an agency going over budget on hours, revisions or tacking on other additional fees. Remember that if an agency’s fees seem to good to be true, they just might be and can end up costing you more time and even your reputation in the long run.

8. They have a long history of award-winning work.
Everyone loves accolades, and agencies are certainly no exception. While a long history of award-winning work is indeed impressive, don’t let it sway your decision to work with an agency. Instead of looking at your short list of agency contenders and thinking about their history, you should consider how they think about the future. Do they adapt their services to changing consumer preferences? Are they well-versed in what your audiences care about today – and will care about tomorrow? Look to hire a vision instead of a history.

Ready to get started in your search?
Evoke Idea Group would love to be a part of your decision-making process. Our creative design and marketing strategies engage audiences and inspire action! Contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation at hello@evokeideagroup.com or (630) 639-8985. Let’s talk about sharing your story and helping your profits grow.


About Evoke Idea Group, LLC

Evoke Idea Group, LLC is a full-service design and marketing creative agency providing award-winning marketing communications and graphic design solutions since 1996. For more than two decades, we’ve helped mid-to-large size B2B and B2C companies, marketing departments and breakout companies captivate and convert customers through print and digital campaigns. We serve a wide range of clients on a national, regional, and local basis.

We are in the business of bringing awareness to brands and helping to grow companies through strategic marketing, digital marketing, advertising, web design, video and graphic design services. Our fresh, creative approaches are translated through: graphic design, logo design, website design, advertisements, infographics, digital marketing, social media marketing, web banner ads, print materials, flyers, case studies, sell sheets, posters, brochures, branding and identity, brand guidelines, packaging, trade show booths, exhibit graphics, video and animated motion graphics.

Our full-service advertising agency provides freelance marketing communications and graphic design solutions throughout Arizona, Phoenix, Cave Creek, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tucson, Peoria, Prescott, Flagstaff, Northern Arizona, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Aurora, Naperville, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Elgin, Schaumburg, DeKalb, Joliet, Chicago, Chicago Suburbs, Maricopa County, Yavapai County, Coconino County, Pima County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, McHenry County, DeKalb County, Cook County, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, the Midwest, the Southwest, USA and worldwide.