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Streamlining success: 5 ways a design retainer will save you money & time

Sarah Edwards
User Experience Consultant

A design retainer is an agreement between a design agency and a company to provide ongoing design or UX/UI services. Design retainers offer multiple benefits, including cost and time savings. In this article, we will explore five key ways a design retainer can benefit your business:

1. Predictable budgeting and reduced overhead costs
2. Efficient resource allocation
3. Consistent quality and brand coherence across projects
4. Streamlined workflow and increased efficiency
5. Enhanced collaboration and strategic alignment between teams

 

1 Predictable budgeting and reduced overhead costs

A design retainer enables you to forecast your overheads by agreeing upon a monthly fee. It guarantees that the cost of design work remains fixed and predictable. This arrangement helps prevent unexpected expenses and facilitates better planning. Additionally, if any request falls outside the scope of the retained amount, you should be promptly notified at the time of the request, ensuring transparency and allowing for appropriate adjustments.

 

2 Efficient resource allocation

Retainers facilitate the efficient allocation of resources, including time and manpower, by fostering a deeper understanding between the agency and the client over time. This ongoing relationship allows design teams to familiarise themselves with your brand, saving time during briefings for new projects. As the retained team develops a deep familiarity with your brand, they become an extension of your team. Consequently, they are better equipped to present ideas that not only align with your brand but also push its boundaries, sparking innovative thinking and strategic expansion.

 

3 Consistent quality and brand coherence across projects

By establishing a design retainer, you guarantee a consistent, high-quality design output, which enhances brand coherence and user experience. This consistency helps save both time and costs associated with frequent redesigns or corrections. Moreover, the outputs generated through the retainer contribute to building a comprehensive library of assets, easily accessible from a shared location. For UX/UI projects, a design system is typically developed using tools like Figma. This design system serves as a centralised resource that can be accessed at any time by both the client and development teams, ensuring continuity and efficiency throughout the design process.

 

4 Streamlined workflow and increased efficiency

Through a retained arrangement, you secure dedicated studio time with our team of designers at Make it Clear. We prioritise local talent and ensure that all work is handled in-house, facilitating face-to-face meetings between you and your design team. This direct interaction allows for the establishment of a strong relationship with your designer. With a deep understanding of your brand, our design team can deliver faster turnaround times and superior outputs. By consistently producing high-quality work, we eliminate the fluctuations commonly associated with project-based engagements, ensuring that your design needs are met promptly and cost-effectively.

 

5 Enhanced collaboration and strategic alignment between teams

At Make it Clear, we value our clients as partners, striving to cultivate genuine relationships with real people rather than treating them as mere entities in a portal. We invest time in comprehensively understanding your needs, your market landscape, and your organisational objectives. This alignment ensures that our design outputs are strategically focused and highly effective, minimising the necessity for costly redesigns or directional shifts.

 

Choosing the right retainer package

When choosing the right retainer package for your organisation, there are several crucial factors to consider:

Capabilities: Different agencies have specific areas of expertise. It’s essential to ensure that the retainer you select aligns with the type of work you need to be completed. We recommend bringing a few example briefs when meeting with prospective agencies to ensure they can meet your requirements. At Make it Clear, we offer retainers in three key areas: UX/UI support, Design assets, and Presentation support. By specifying these capabilities, we ensure we have the resources and talent to support your needs.

Hours covered: It’s important to set up a retainer at a level that meets your requirements. Estimating the time needed for design projects can be challenging, so we advise leaning on the agency to define a rate card for the services you require. This allows you to estimate the amount of output you can expect monthly.

Chemistry: Building a strong rapport between our team and yours is crucial. We want the relationship to be enjoyable and productive for both parties. Ensure you connect with your chosen organisation; design should be an enjoyable process. Look for compatibility in personality and avoid outdated attitudes.

Ways of working: It’s essential to understand how your chosen agency prefers to communicate and collaborate. They should be willing to adapt to your preferred methods of working. For example, if you prefer using Slack to communicate requests, the agency should be open to this. However, it’s equally important not to adopt new processes that aren’t suitable for your team.

You can explore more in our article: What is a design retainer? A guide to the perfect project partnership

 

Maximising value with design retainers

This article explores the benefits of design retainers for businesses, highlighting five key advantages:

  • Predictable budgeting and reduced overhead costs: Retainers offer fixed and predictable costs, preventing unexpected expenses and facilitating better planning.
  • Efficient resource allocation: Retained arrangements foster deeper understanding between the agency and the client, allowing for efficient allocation of time and manpower.
  • Consistent quality and brand coherence: Retainers ensure consistent high-quality design output, enhancing brand coherence and reducing the need for frequent redesigns.
  • Streamlined workflow and increased efficiency: Retained arrangements provide dedicated studio time with local talent, facilitating face-to-face meetings and faster turnaround times.
  • Enhanced collaboration and strategic alignment: Retainers foster genuine relationships between the agency and the client, ensuring strategic alignment and effective design outcomes.

When choosing a retainer package, organisations should consider factors such as capabilities, hours covered, chemistry, and ways of working to ensure the best fit for their needs and preferences.

 

Why select Make it Clear

At Make it Clear, we’ve built our business model around creating, fostering, and developing retainer clients. We’re eager to discuss your needs further. You can book a call with us or read more about our retained services on our website.


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