How to work effectively with a creative agency

Here at Monchü we’ve been working as a creative agency since 2013, working with a variety of clients on range of design and marketing projects. Over the years, we’ve come to realise just how important it is to develop a great relationship with our clients, allowing successful collaboration. So, this article covers our top learnings on how to work effectively with a creative agency.

Writing a brief for a creative agency

The first stage of any design or marketing project with a creative agency is writing your brief. It’s an incredibly important part of the process. This brief is what the creative agency will work from as they get started on the project, so it’s crucial that it clearly articulates exactly what you’re looking for.

Here are three things you should include in every brief to a creative agency:

  1. Requirements and expectations. This will include any deadlines, deliverables, and expectations for updates during the project. Make sure you’re being realistic in these expectations, especially in terms of the deadline – the most important thing is producing high-quality work.
  2. Customer information. Who are the audience that will be seeing this design work or marketing campaign? What are their key pain points and problems? What do they find valuable? What channels do they use? The better the creative agency understands your project and your audience, the better the work they will deliver. They may be experts in design or marketing, but it’s you who knows your brand and audience best.
  3. Your inspiration. Including a mood board of brand or marketing materials that you love, or that have inspired you with this particular project is a good idea. This will give the creative agency a good idea of the branding style and messaging and tone of voice that you’re looking for. Setting up a Pinterest board can be a simple way of presenting a mood board.
Pinterest branding inspiration

Getting the project brief right

Once you’ve briefed the creative agency and agreed a contract for the project, it’s time to get the project set up. How this is done will differ depending on the type of design or marketing project you’re working on, and it’s especially important for larger projects such as an ongoing marketing campaign or a large design project such as a catalogue.

At the start of your working relationship with the creative agency, we’d advise having a face-to-face meeting to discuss and agree how the project will be set up and managed. This is something we always do at the start of large projects at Monchü.

This meeting should include:

  • Schedules. You should have agreed an overall deadline within your project brief, but if there are multiple parts to the project, or if you think there will be a couple of rounds of amends, you should discuss this at the start of the project so that the creative agency team can build these timelines into their workload.
  • How the project will be managed. Will you need to use a project management tool such as Trello or Basecamp? Will the creative agency be creating an overall plan for the project? And if so, which team member will be monitoring its progress?
  • Working space. How will the project deliverables be delivered? You might be happy just using email to send updates between you and the creative agency. Alternatively you may wish to set up a shared working space using Google Drive or Dropbox (that’s what we usually do at Monchü).
  • Communication. How will you maintain communication throughout the project? This is the time to decide how often you will meet with the creative agency, and how. It might be that face to face meetings will work best for you, or you may want to set up a regular weekly Skype call.
  • Roles and responsibilities. It’s important to understand who’s leading on your project at the creative agency, and who the main point of contact is at your organisation too. Beyond this, is there anyone else who needs to sign off brand or messaging for the project?
Project management

Maintaining good communication with a creative agency

From our experience, the single most important factor in how to work effectively with a creative agency is communication. We mentioned communication previously in terms of setting up a marketing or design project and ensuring that you establish how you will communicate throughout the project. This is crucial to ensure that a good level of communication is maintained throughout the duration of the project.

Maintaining good communication is the responsibility of both parties, the creative agency and you as the client. Here are three pieces of advice on maintaining good communication as a client:

  1. Be open and honest throughout. If something isn’t working for you, make sure you tell the creative agency, and explain why.
  2. Give valuable feedback and constructive criticism. A designers’ biggest bugbear is a client who gives generalised feedback like ‘this section isn’t working, can you try something different’ or ‘can you make this prettier’. Sadly, we aren’t mind readers! When giving feedback ensure that you give detail about why something isn’t working. Instead of commenting ‘I don’t like the blue colour – please change’ try instead ‘Could we use a bolder shade of blue? Something that will really stand out in customer’s social media feeds.’ This detail will help the designer to understand what you’re looking for, making the process quicker and smoother for everyone involved.
  3. Trust the expertise of the creative agency. There’s a reason that you’re working with a creative agency on this design or marketing project, and that’s because you’re looking for an expert eye. Try to be open to suggestions and different ideas throughout the project, as this is often where the best results will be made. One example is the How Researchers Changed the World podcast, a project we worked on with our client Taylor & Francis Group. Taylor & Francis came to us looking for a social media campaign, but we suggested that podcasting might be a more suitable channel. The end product was something much more ground-breaking and successful as a result.
Boy shouting into microphone

Have a specific question about how to work effectively with a creative agency? Contact us and one of the Monchü team will be in touch very soon.