6 steps to consider when choosing a creative partner

So you’ve decided your business needs a reboot. You’re in need of graphic or web design services and you want to get going right away. So let’s go right?!

But hold on a second. Choosing a creative partner can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re still in the early days of your business. With the sheer amount of design services available at the click of a button, it’s tempting to go with the first one that fits the bill. This may be the fastest and easiest route, but if you’re too hasty you could end up with a heap of problems later on.

Finding the right fit is crucial, and you’ll thank yourself in the long run. 

We’ve put together some handy steps to consider before you take the plunge:

1. Freelancer vs. Creative Agency


First, you need to know the difference between the two:

Creative Agency

If you’re simply looking for fast and reliable service to get the job done, then an established agency will guarantee that. They have faster turn-around times and are generally efficient in making sure the job is done on time. They usually cost more, but you’re paying for efficiency.

Freelancer

Freelancers are usually a bit more affordable than agencies. The quality of the service is also more personal and inclusive. However time-wise they’re slightly riskier. If your freelance designer drops their hard drive down the toilet, the project timeline pushes back.  

It’s down to you to weigh up what’s more important to your business right now. If you need the work done quickly and worry-free, go with an agency. If you’re looking for a personalised experience that will cost a bit less, a freelancer is probably better.

This is exactly why Halo Kollektive was born, to serve clients that need more input from a larger team. When leads come my way, depending on the project’s timeline, budget, and expectations, I either keep them on a freelance basis with me at Paperjetair Studio, or plug them into Halo Kollektive. 

2. Do you want a creative partner or ’just’ a graphic/web design service?


If you’re very particular about what you want, e.g. a circular logo with a pink fish in the middle and bright green serif font under the icon, then maybe you should just go with some random (cheaper) designer from upwork. Sites like these serve their purpose for low-budget projects that require minimal creative direction. This is merely for production, they’re simply fulfilling an order. 

Kinda takes all the creativity out of it, doesn’t it?

If you really care about your business it’s way better to partner up with a creative professional to guide you through the whole process, e.g. “Maybe pink and bright green isn’t the best colour combo for you to attract your ideal client?”

Quick fixes can be tempting, but remember your business is an investment. If you really want to stand the test of time, make the right decisions from the start.

3. Aesthetics: have a look at their portfolio 


Most designers or creative agencies will have a portfolio of some sort, and you should definitely take a look. If they take themselves seriously they’ll have a privately owned website, but some may still be starting out and will make use of sites like behance.

Are they creating work that is aesthetically pleasing? 

If your first thought is no, then go with your gut. If you have to force yourself to see your business fitting in with their style, then it’s not for you.

A creative partner should be an extension of your brand – not the other way around.

If their style aligns with yours then delve in deeper: what industries have they worked with? How much industry knowledge do they seem to have? 

If you get a good feeling about their portfolio, you’re on the right track!

4. Philosophy: does your potential creative partner align with your product/service?


Head to their ‘about’ page and read about their ethos. Does it align with your brand and what it stands for? Take a look at what kind of clients they have served in the past: do they also reflect your values? 

The product itself is what ultimately matters, but the process of getting exactly what you want and need won’t go smoothly if your core values aren’t in line.

5. Communication: Are you a good match? 


A sure way to tell if you’re right for each other is how smooth the communication is. Can you understand each other easily? Are you left feeling confident and reassured? 

Service providers often allow a free ‘discovery call’ (we do, click here to book one with me!) Just hop onto a call to find out if you would make a good fit. 

Communication is everything.

It’s not just a potential partner’s work experience that matters, but their whole work ethic. Ask them to talk you through their process. If you find that yours is different, or your preferred workflow doesn’t match, then move on. 

Ask questions and try to leave no stone unturned. What would happen if you suddenly needed a last-minute change? Would you be a priority?

The more you know about their work ethic, the fewer surprises you’ll have later on.  

6. Trust: can you trust your creative partner?


This is really the golden ticket to a strong creative partnership. Check their testimonials and reach out to past clients and see what they have to say. If anything makes you second guess them, reach out for an explanation. If their reasoning doesn’t reassure you, then move on. There are plenty more creatives out there who’ll be better for you.

Now get searching!

Finding the right creative partner can take time and energy. But if you invest at the start, you and your business will reap the benefits. Get yourself a long-term partner that’s in it for the long haul, and watch your business thrive.

After all, your business is precious. You need to be sure it’s in good hands.

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