Why bigger isn’t always better

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Power to the indies!

Selecting a design studio can be a difficult process. There are many factors a company has to consider when choosing a design agency: the agency’s specialties, location, and its past work with other brands. Beyond these things, it’s also worth considering how an agency’s size impacts on the service, outcomes and costs.

Why is size so important? With large agencies come huge teams of people, endless ideas and lightning fast project turn around, right?

On many occasions this may not actually not the case. If you ask the team at Sail Creative, they will tell you that one of the main reasons smaller is better is because it allows them to be more, not less, creative. It also allows them to select work with clients that have positive social impact.

A large agency may gather together “the most creative people in the world”, but places them in the corner of an office and asks them to come up with new ideas for nine hours a day.

At Sail Creative, the team is able to seek inspiration far and wide, from the local museum to the beach and beyond. Their exposure to a variety of engaging sources translates itself into the dedicated and passionate work they deliver on behalf of their clients.

Inspiration aside, let’s take a look at some more reasons why smaller is better.

The benefits of working with an independent branding studio

1. Small enough to care

A huge global branding agency with large offices and hundreds of staff has a certain amount of pressure to take on any project to pay their big team. A smaller size agency have the ability to be more selective and work alongside organisations that are a perfect fit with their ethos and values.

A smaller team is able to commit themselves fully to understanding the businesses of each client, often acting as an extension of a client’s team to ensure a strong working relationship is developed on every project.

2. Transparency in the process

Understanding exactly who you’ll be working with and how their design services are offered will also help make the selection process easier and set the precedent for a strong working relationship.

A smaller agency will not hide behind their size, meaning it’s very easy for the client to understand exactly who will be working on their project and the process that this will follow. Each and every time you contact a small studio, you can be sure of a personal service and not feel passed from pillar to post by faceless teams at a large design agency.

2. Specialists in their niche

A smaller design agency often operates within a specific niche or industry, meaning that they are able to provide a specialist service to their clients. A large design firm takes on a wide variety of clients, therefore often do not develop a particular field of expertise.

3. Dedicated service

A designer working at a large firm may not be particularly interested about your project, or even proficient in that area of design, because they don’t have control of what is assigned to them.

With their smaller size, an independent agency can work closely with clients to build trusted relationships and provide fantastic results.

This approach allows for a personalised relationship with each and every client. Your business is not not seen simply as an invoice and you can expect a level of service that is not just off the peg.

4. Variety of talent

A small agency has the flexibility at its disposal to call upon a wide variety of specialists, from web designers to copywriters, to specifically fit your individual tastes, style and preferences.

In some cases, independent design studios will have more design experience than the combined years of a design team at an agency. Many talented designers tend to either move up the ladder or start their own firm after a career within an agency.

5. Supporting independent creatives

Calling upon a variety of talented specialists also has other associated benefits. By doing so, agencies and their clients are supporting independent creatives. Self-employed or freelancing individuals have chosen to work in a certain way, often with certain types of organisations, that allow them to stay committed to their purpose and passions rather than just trying to make a profit and hit targets.

6. Commitment

A small agency is committed to your success. With stronger relationships built with their clients, an independent studio will not be afraid to speak up, and say “Here’s what needs to happen in order to build a successful brand.”

Often only working on a handful of projects at a time, it is imperative to a small agency that the brand is successful because it has a greater impact on their reputation and finances if the client chooses not to work with them again.

7. Creative flexibility

An independent design studio is not dictated by a board of directors, red tape or any other variety of hoops to jump through. With this freedom comes a willingness to try new things and offer out-of-the-box creativity.

Although well established, a smaller agency may not be set in their ways in terms of how they work, which means the client benefits from a far more bespoke service that meets the individual needs of their company.

Independent branding studio in the north of England

Sail Creative are proud to be an independent branding studio who build and define brands for those with passion and purpose. We are a community of freelancers that challenges the traditional agency model. We bring together the right people for the right project, from creative strategy to output, so that we are able to offer a wide range of expertise and skill at an affordable price, without sacrificing on quality.  

We are committed to doing things differently and creating positive social change, strategy and collaboration. Our goal for each project is to have impact, to engage and emotionally connect with people. The feedback we get from our clients consistently compliments the level of service we provide.

How to choose the right size branding agency

Sail Creative have worked with many businesses, from solo entrepreneurs to charities, and we know that the people behind the brands have invested their heart and soul into their venture. With so much on the line, reaching out to instruct a branding agency is a nerve wracking moment.

As we’ve highlighted in this article, we believe there are many benefits of choosing a smaller, independent branding studio. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, when you start your search we believe it’s a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does the agency interact with you before you become a client?

The first few interactions with an agency will reveal how well you will be treated as their client. Do they answer emails or return phone calls promptly? Do they listen and ask thoughtful, challenging questions?

  • Do they see what makes you different?

Is their portfolio filled with unique designs or does it all feel a little bit similar? Successful branding is about expressing your unique voice and solve your challenges and you don’t want to settle for a cookie cutter service.  

  • Do they have brand implementation experience?

Many agencies are excellent at developing their branding solutions, but fall short on the implementation strategy, or vice versa. Be confident that your branding agency can see your project through from the first ideas to the successful implementation across multiple mediums.

  • Can they provide challenge, structure and guidance?

Branding can be hard, soul searching work. A great design agency should be able to challenge you to see things in new perspectives and work collaboratively with you to inspire greatness.

  • Are they on your team?

Almost as if it’s a dating game, you should be listening to your gut and working with the people who make you feel good. Be aware that some agencies will say yes to anything just to get you onboard, so take your time to suss out whether or not you believe the firm has the skills, experience and creativity to design your company’s brand.

It’s ok not not fully know what it is you need when you first enter discussions with a studio, as it will be their job to discover your requirements. Be open-minded to conversations about money to understand what a realistic investment would look like. Don’t be afraid to talk about budget as it clearly sets the expectation up front and avoids a waste of time if you are not on the same page.

Do you have experience in working with a large or a small design agency? What were your experiences and what would you say the pros and cons are of working with an independent branding studio?

We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch by sending us an email, or join in the discussion in the comments/

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