Working with a digital creative agency

So you’ve decided your organisation needs the support and services of a professional digital expert to create some amazing creative content. If you don’t have the backing of a marketing department or the luxury of an in-house design team and you’ve never worked with a digital agency before, it can be pretty daunting – where do you start?

When working with a digital creative agency, firstly, finding the agency that fits with your organisation is really important. Then there’s the briefing process – whether your project is a one-off animation for a specific campaign or a more comprehensive re-brand, including a range of creative elements.

Take your time to do your research

Recommendations are always a good start. Ask around for referrals and talk to other organisations that have experience working with agencies. It’s essential to get the right fit, so remember, an agency that may work for one organisation may not suit yours. As well as having the right skills and expertise, you should be looking for a team you can build a relationship with – personalities play a big part in this, so bear this in mind in your initial meeting.

Be clear from the outset

You may decide to issue a tender and invite agencies to pitch for your project or take a less-formal approach – a coffee and a chat over Zoom. Either way, understanding each other’s approaches from the outset is essential – for both parties. Although the agency staff should do their background research before any meetings occur, it’s helpful to start by explaining your organisation’s ethos and the audiences you target. Include challenges you face, successes you’ve had, and barriers you’ve overcome – information shared at this stage will lay solid foundations for the future.

Building relationships

The agency should introduce the members of the team who you’ll be working with – as well as the account managers if they’re a larger team. You should be comfortable that your staff will gel with their staff and form a good working rapport with whoever they’ll have the most contact with. At AVS, we always take time to build great working connections with our clients, understanding their organisational culture as well as individual approaches.

It’s a good idea for you to appoint one person the agency will have as the main point of contact for day-to-day conversations and project management. This is especially important when you review the creative output; if you have opposing views within your team, it’s helpful to collate these views and have one spokesperson relay them back to the agency so they can process and process them and come back with a solution.

Don’t be brief when it comes to briefing

Once you’ve familiarised yourselves with each other from an organisation perspective, it’s time to discuss the brief. When working with a digital creative agency, you need to explain your target audience and objectives for the project. If you have a specific creative approach, explain it and show examples. Be clear about the budget to save time-wasting.

Be sure to share brand, style and tone of voice guidelines if you have them.

Invite the agency staff to ask questions; they need to leave the briefing meeting with a thorough understanding of your project, what’s required, and timescales.

Lots of communication

Strong communication links between you both are crucial to building a good relationship. When we’re working on a project at AV Studios, we offer weekly meetings to update on progress and discuss any issues and next steps, but we also communicate closely outside of these meetings.

Trust your agency’s creative expertise

You may have a ‘vision’ of what you’d like your creative project to look like. That’s great – agencies love to hear client suggestions and see examples of work they favour and, conversely, ones they’re not too keen on. But, it’s important to put faith in your agency and listen to their suggestions – their expertise and experience will allow them to advise what will work best for your project.

Give honest feedback

Finally, giving feedback can be tricky, but trust us; we want to hear your honest thoughts as an agency. Be clear on what works and what doesn’t work creatively. This is another reason why ongoing communication is essential throughout the project. Vimeo Review is a practical tool we use when sharing work-in-progress and finalised animation designers. You can read more about this in our helpful blog that explores the stages of creating an animation.