Red Flags to Look For When Selecting a Branding Agency or Freelance Designer

You spent hours trying to design a new logo in Canva. Then, you tried outsourcing it on Fiver because your biz bestie recommended them for a “budget-friendly option.” Now, you have a logo you hate and a graphic designer who mysteriously disappears. You feel frustrated and stuck. You know it’s time to reach out for help, but where do you turn, and how do you find someone who actually knows what they are doing? Raise your hand if this sounds familiar? Here’s the deal, you could keep going down the “budget-friendly” route and continue ending up with a brand identity that looks just like that and doesn’t represent you and your company. But, if you’re ready to invest in a branding agency or a seasoned freelance graphic designer, you have do have a LOT of options, so it can be hard to know where to turn and who to trust. Whether we are the agency for you or not, we want to help you navigate the selection process.  Today, we break down a few things to look out for when hiring a branding agency or designer.<

Red Flag #1 — No portfolio

We recommend finding an agency or designer with a great portfolio and a diverse one at that. We think the more breadth in the portfolio, the more creativity they can bring to the table. And chances are you won’t get an identity that looks like another one of their clients, which can happen when they only work with a particular niche. A portfolio may reside on their website, or in the age of social media, right in their Instagram feed.

Red Flag #2 — No reviews or testimonials

Reviews and testimonials give you a glimpse into other people’s experiences working with them. Most agencies and some freelancers have Google listings that allow clients to leave reviews. You can also check their social media or a testimonial section on their website, but if they don’t, simply ask if they have any they can share! 

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Red Flag #3 — Lack of experience

We don’t want to hate on green designers; we’ve been there. However, keep experience in mind when selecting an agency or freelancer. Experience allows an agency or freelancer to ask the right questions, make expert recommendations, and better anticipate your business’s needs. 

Red Flag #4 — Talks a lot about them, doesn’t ask about you

If your consultation with an agency or freelancer feels like walking onto a used car lot, please run. A consultation should involve getting to know you and your challenges. If they spend the entire time telling you how great they are, then they may not have your best interests at heart.

Red Flag #5 — A ton of design options

Ok, for any agencies and designers reading this—sorry, but not sorry. The industry standard of showing clients three or more identity options is antiquated. Suppose an agency or freelancer takes the time to understand you or your business. In that case, they should make a thoughtful recommendation and present an identity concept that will speak to you and your audience. Right? Besides, ever heard of decision fatigue? Who wants to have to wade through that many options? In our experience, when you show too many options, clients feel the need to take something from every identity you present. Then, you get the “Frankenstein effect”—where a client puts elements from two or more identities together to create something that a) doesn’t look good and b) doesn’t make sense. A brand identity should feel very intentional, but if it’s not perfect, share your concerns and let the agency or designer guide you toward the right solution.  

Now that you’re sufficiently armed with what to look for and avoid, go and find the lid to your pot. If you are looking for an agency to partner with you, and create a brand identity that showcases your unique value, maybe we’re that lid. If so, let’s chat. If not, godspeed!