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Navigating the creative journey: A guide to collaborating with a design agency

Sarah Edwards
User Experience Consultant

In 2003, Nissan transferred its engineers and designers from Munich to Paddington, and since then, London has been home to its European design studio. To justify their move, Nissan referred to London as ‘a city that is at the forefront of modern art, architecture, and design trends’. It’s undeniable that graphic design thrives in London, the vibrant heart of creativity and innovation. Amidst the bustling streets and buzzing atmosphere, artistic flair and inspiring trends have been shaping the city’s landscapes for decades. From Camden’s bold street art to South Kensington’s elegant galleries, it’s no surprise that London is often called Europe’s design capital. For this reason, many businesses choose to work with the local design agencies here. They offer quick turnaround times, invaluable expertise in local markets, and insight into the latest technology and trends. Their fresh blend of perspectives, personalised communication, and reliable support is instrumental in building the strong relationships they maintain with clients. What’s not to love?

In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive breakdown of what it’s like for a business to collaborate with a London design agency such as Make it Clear, outlining everything you need to know before working with us.

 

Understanding your brand’s core values

Effective communication and differentiation comes from understanding your business’ own brand values and knowing how to convey their essence. In today’s market, where meaning and values heavily influence consumer decisions, branding has become increasingly important and multi-dimensional. Sales, brand awareness, and market visibility are all driven by the integration of clear brand values into business strategy, attracting customers and retaining them. Knowing your brand values is therefore essential before delving into work with a design agency. Agencies require a clear picture of the brand’s essence, personality and mission to ensure that the design aligns with the brand’s core principles, and above all, resonate with the target audience. Avoiding this results in a lack of guidance and direction for the agency, and therefore runs the risk of inconsistency and misalignment of the brand’s design.

So, as a business, how can you uncover your core brand values? If you’re starting with a blank canvas, start from the very beginning: what inspired the creation of the brand in the first place? What were the initial long-term goals that were established? Reflecting on what the brand intended to stand for from the very beginning is a good place to start when considering the values that are central to the brand’s identity. As aforementioned, never lose sight of your target audience. Conducting audience research through analysing customer feedback and other user research methods is another thorough technique that can aid in unearthing overarching themes and patterns that underscore the brand. Or, if you find yourself in the opposite scenario whereby you have too many brand values, get your team together for a value mapping exercise. Brainstorm your values and categorise them based on relevance and significance, and narrow them down from there. Following these exercises, you should have enough confidence in your brand values to present them to an agency.

 

Putting together a stellar project brief

Besides understanding your brand’s core values, creating a comprehensive project brief is necessary for communicating your goals, expectations and requirements to the design agency. We’ve provided a step-by-step guide on what we like to know from an organisation before carrying out design work.

Project overview: In the project overview, simply detail the current challenge and why the design work is needed. For instance, if you want to better reflect your business’ values, or draw attention to a certain value that aligns with a specific target audience segment.

Objectives: Next, list out the objectives that you want to achieve with the design work – do you want to enhance your brand’s visibility, or modernise your brand image? Don’t be afraid to make your objectives detailed – the more specific these are, the more accurate and aligned our design work will be.

Your target audience: What do you know about your target audience? Are there any particular demographics or psychographics that are of particular importance? If you have any existing materials or work from user research, it would be a good idea to supply these.

Your brand: Tell us a bit about how your brand identity is perceived. Is there anything you want to change, or something about your brand that you want to retain? What’s your brand’s mission, and what are the core values?

Design requirements: Let us know if you have any specific design requirements that you’d like us to adhere to, such as logo design, brand design elements, as well as photography and illustration styles. For example, if you want to retain a clean and minimalist design with serif typography. If you have examples of how your brand design elements come together, such as in marketing materials, provide us with these too. However, if you don’t have these yet, don’t panic – at Make it Clear, we’re always eager to create these in collaboration with you, so they aren’t mandatory prior to working with us.

Deliverables: Outline exactly what outcomes you expect from us, such as a complete website redesign or a brand refresh.

Timeline and budget: Don’t forget to inform us of the budget allocated for the project as well as deadlines.

 

The importance of clear communication

Clear and consistent communication is the key factor that upholds a project’s success, from the moment we receive the project brief up until project completion. Communication ensures alignment, manages expectations, and aids in efficient problem-solving. It helps us, as an agency, to fully understand your goals and ensure that we deliver a successful design project that goes above and beyond.

To facilitate clear and consistent communication, we utilise project management tools and hold regular meetings (which are typically remote, so we can collaborate anywhere in the world). The project management tools we use function as centralised platforms for exchanging ideas, sharing updates, and documenting our progress. The tools also contain all timelines, tasks and deadlines to keep everyone on-track. The meetings we schedule, which involve the relevant project managers, account managers, strategists, designers and researchers, are held on a regular basis to discuss the project’s status, receive feedback, and address challenges. Consistent communication in the form of regular check-ins is significant because it allows full transparency of the project’s progress, enabling close monitoring to avoid misunderstandings. We also love to receive ongoing feedback to have an awareness that all is going well and aligns with expectations. Additionally, if there are changes to the timeline, clear and consistent communication allows us to adapt accordingly.

 

Final thoughts

A well-defined project brief that underscores your brand’s core values as well as a commitment to clear and consistent communication are the ingredients necessary to create a smooth, seamless project delivery and an experience that truly resonates with a target audience. At Make it Clear, we believe that a culture of open communication and collaboration is key in making the complex simple, producing impactful solutions, and driving long-term success.

 

 

Book a call

We’d love to talk to you about how Make it Clear can support your organisation with innovative design work.

Book a call here.


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