The benefits of working with a local design agency are many, but I’ll admit it – in nearly 20 years in digital, I’ve had the pleasure of working with people all over the world. Database consultants and clients in Canada, designers in The Netherlands. CMS experts in Australia, plugin developers in the U.S.A. and development teams in Brazil, China, India and some in Russia too. I ran one project that alone spanned 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with websites in 15 different languages including Arabic and Greek with close colleagues being Italians working in Switzerland.
But nothing beats working with a local design agency. Why?
As a client, one thing has so many benefits – and that’s simply being local.
The first benefit is that you and your local design agency are, very obviously, in the same time zone. Anywhere in the United Kingdom, you’re in the same time zone as your design team, so it goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning so that it can be really appreciated.
When I had a dev team in China I could be in the office at 9am in the morning but it would be 3pm for them. Just as I was starting my day, so they were finishing theirs. So there was an overlap of just a couple of hours. If you add into the mix your flexible working hours and daylight savings, then there can be times when there’s the possibility of not being around at the same time as your team. There might be days when you can’t see or speak with them, so it really depends on how crucial your project is.
At the other end of the scale, there have been team members in the United States and that’s a country spanning a number of time zones. For Brits, east coast USA is OK, with Boston, New York and Washington D.C. all being just 5 hours behind. However, clients in San Francisco are 8 hours behind, so planning a meeting with them, you’ll catch them as they get into the office just as you’re supposed to be leaving.
So, in the grand scheme of things, having a local web designer or graphics team is just brilliant.
So, by time zone standards, Lands End and John O’ Groats are on the same time. The only problem is that they’re at opposite ends of the country. Surely you can get more local than that?
And that is another thing – exactly how local is local?
I live in the suburbs of my town and within a mile or two are a few pubs. The nearest one I’ve not set foot in for years. It’s not my cup of tea. Then there are a few more mediocre ones, a really nice pub and then “my local”, The Prince of Wales – my pub of choice is 2 miles as the crow flies but nearly 3 miles by road. It’s less than 10 minutes drive there or a 40 min walk home. That, to me, is local.
From where I live, Clever Marketing is local. It’s about 15 miles away and a 30 min drive by car, so that’s local. I live in Farnborough, Hampshire, but work for a design agency in Surrey. And that’s fine by me. I could have stayed in Farnborough and only ever been 10 minutes away from home, but leafy Surrey isn’t hard to get to.
It’s the time that it takes to get to your design team that’s important – there’s the initial meeting to thrash out the design brief, then the additional project meetings when things need clarification in person and also the training sessions, inspecting the work, sending design proofs over, delivering finished product etc. By being local to your creative advisors, you can be at each other’s doors in no time. In Woking, we have a mainline to Waterloo, so the capital is less than 30 minutes away. What’s more, clients can save on “London prices” because we have lower overheads and no table-football in our studio.
All that said, I am visiting an SEO client in Essex on Thursday. Whilst they are on the other side of London, the trip around the M25 should only be about 90 minutes each way. So, that’s nearly half the working day spent travelling and you need to decide if that’s OK to maintain on a regular basis. If you’re taking on the services of a top digital marketing agency like Clever, then that should be well worthwhile.
Any business in Woking is within 5-10 minutes of the Clever Marketing office/studio. Be aware that the massive Woking town centre redevelopment can add a little time to that right now, with road closures and traffic redirection, but if you can walk to our offices, that’s good.
Guildford too, is close to our design studio, within just half an hour’s drive, as are Addlestone, Aldershot, Bracknell, Camberley, Chobham, Addlestone, Farnborough, Fleet, West Byfleet, Weybridge… So the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey are all really close.
The advantages of a local agency are:
Paul Mackenzie Ross, Digital Marketing Manager
A well thought through creative brief is where a successful project begins. It builds excitement around a forthcoming project and it’s the best way to inspire your graphic designer or graphic design agency. The outcome is more likely to result in a solution that’s interpreted the way you want it to be and within budget.
Depending on how well you know your graphic designer or graphic design company, briefings are most effective when conducted face-to-face. The information provided in your written brief forming the basis for discussion. Regardless of whether you need a logo, a brochure or website design services, often sharing more information in a creative brief is more beneficial than not enough. But what are the essentials? Here are Clever Marketing’s top 7 tips to get you started.
Imagine your graphic design agency has no knowledge of your business and what you do. Rather than assume what they might know, supply them with everything they need. Thinking about where you are now, provide an overview of your business and your proposition. Consider the benefits of your products or services and your USP’s. Within the marketplace, outline your positioning, your competitors and how your business is perceived. Depending on the scope of work, a SWOT analysis may also be beneficial.
Outline to your designer or graphic design company what you want to achieve from your project – lead generation, brand awareness or driving traffic may all be factors. Think about what you want the call to action to be and how you’ll measure effectiveness.
Once you know what your goals are, you can consider how to get there. What do you believe the scope of work is ie; a re-brand, collateral or a new website. If you’re unsure of all the elements, your graphic designer or design agency can help you. Do however outline exactly what you think needs to be done. It might be a 24 page brochure in full colour with an online version for your website for example. Think about print quantities and who might do the printing – can your graphic designer or design agency organise this for you. Consider whether more than one version is required. For websites, think about the customer experience and how quickly visitors can get to the information they require. Consider the journey you want to take them on and how you’ll keep them there.
Think about your audience and what types of people you would most like to talk to. Describe what they’re like professionally and personally including specific socio-economic classifications where relevant. Does this audience know your business already or are they prospective clients? Is there a need to design more than one version or create a separate page on a website? Think about what will appeal to your target audience and why they should believe what you’re saying.
Before a new project commences, a budget must be agreed with your graphic design agency. The estimate should provide a detailed understanding of what’s included for the duration of the project. Payment terms should be agreed before work starts. Should the brief change once work has begun, additional costs can be incurred. This is why it’s important to get the brief right from the outset. If printing is a requirement, this should be included in your budget along with any other extras like envelopes. For websites, consider how you’ll drive traffic to your new site. Do you require SEO services or social media support for example.
Think about the messaging, style and copy for the task in hand. What look and feel are you going for? Can you draft any outline copy? Take into account colours and fonts as well as examples of what you do and don’t like. Any mandatories and constraints should also feature. Share your brand guidelines if you have them to maintain brand consistency. Always supply your logo as well as images you’d like to feature unless these are being sourced. Consider too the tone of voice that should be used to identify with your target audience. Existing collateral can be referred to as a style guide. For websites, also take into account the keywords you need to include.
Realistic timings are essential before commencement of any project. A timeline should be drawn up which include key stages from briefing to delivery. Actions should include who has responsibility for what and by when. Where the requirement includes printed collateral, print lead times should also be incorporated. The same applies to any internal sign off procedures.
Although this might sound like it’s a lot to think about, you will know much of it already. After all you know your business better than anyone else. But by sticking to these steps, briefing your graphic design agency will be far more effective!