A Guide for Design Clients: How prepping your brief better could save you time, money and a headache!

A Guide for Design Clients

Are you a design client looking to streamline your collaboration with a design agency? Do you want to ensure your projects stay on budget and are delivered promptly? Or have you come to pay the bill and didn’t expect such a large sum on project management?

In this blog, we’ll explore how investing time in preparing a thorough design brief can ultimately save you both time and money.

The Power of Preparation

They say that proper preparation prevents poor performance, and nowhere is this truer than in the realm of design projects. By investing time upfront to prepare a comprehensive design brief, you set the stage for success and avoid costly delays down the road.

Approving Copy and Collecting Content

Before engaging with a design agency, ensure that your copy is finalised and approved internally. Providing the agency with approved copy saves time and reduces the risk of costly author’s corrections later on. Additionally, gather all relevant images, logos (in different formats), and other content assets beforehand to speed up the design process.

*Brownie points if you are a new client to the agency send over your brand guidelines so that the agency can understand your identity, rules and layouts.


Provide Examples and Preferences

Communication is key when working with a design agency. Spend time gathering examples of designs you like (and dislike) to provide the agency with a clear understanding of your preferences. This helps minimise revisions and ensures the final product aligns with your vision.

Setting Clear Deadlines

Time is money, and missed deadlines can result in costly delays. Clearly communicate your project timeline and set realistic deadlines for each stage of the design process. This helps keep the project on track and prevents rushed, last-minute revisions that can drive up costs.

Internal Sign-off and Timely Responses

Involve all relevant stakeholders in the design process from the outset. Ensure that your internal sign-off committee is aware of project timelines and deliverables to avoid delays caused by indecision or unexpected revisions. Additionally, commit to providing timely responses to emails and feedback from the design agency to keep the project moving forward smoothly.

Feedback and Revisions

Clear and timely feedback is crucial for ensuring that the design agency understands your vision and can make necessary revisions efficiently. Provide constructive feedback and be specific about any changes or adjustments you’d like to see. This helps prevent misunderstandings and minimises the need for extensive revisions.

In conclusion, investing time in preparing a thorough design brief can lead to significant time and cost savings throughout the design process. By approving copy, collecting content, providing examples and preferences, setting clear deadlines, involving internal stakeholders, and providing timely feedback, you can streamline your collaboration with a design agency and ensure successful project outcomes.

Remember, preparation is the key to success!

Now you’ve prepped your brief, want to send it to us? Get in touch today!

Cracking the Comms Code: Let’s Conquer The Annual Report Labyrinth

annual report

It’s time to venture into the labyrinth that is the annual report – those enigmatic puzzles of paperwork that both challenge and intrigue us! We get it, the struggle is real, from deciphering the data to dealing with cryptic feedback from Sue in finance who seems to speak in riddles – no offence, Sue.

At Be Smart Design, we’ve got the map and the compass to guide you through this maze of paperwork with style and flair!

Balancing Info and Fun

Alright, let’s be real here—annual reports can be be as intricate as a maze, with twists and turns, surrounded by walls of information that leave us feeling lost. But who says informative can’t also be fun? We’ll help you map out your reports whilst taking you through the scenic route – keeping your report fresh and engaging without losing the important stuff.

Running from the boulder of deadlines

Ah, the crushing weight of deadlines—they seem to come hurling at you out of no where! With our lightning-fast workflow and a dash of creative caffeine, we’ll leave those deadlines in the dust without breaking a sweat.

Illuminate the way with your brand

Your brand deserves to shine, so why settle for anything less than stellar? We’ll sprinkle some pizzazz into your reports to keep that brand essence bright for everyone to see, ensuring your report beams “YOU” from start to finish.

Breaking down barriers

Everyone should have a chance to join the discussion, right? That’s why we’re all about making your reports accessible to everyone. Whether it’s adding some forward-thinking features or just keeping things simple and easy to read, we’ve got you covered.

Handling Stakeholder Expectations Like a Pro

Stakeholders can sometimes present challenges, but we’ve got your back. We’ll help with navigating their expectations and ensuring everyone walks away satisfied.

Keeping Compliance Cool

Regulations, rules—whatever you want to call them, they can be a headache! With our keen eye for detail and knack for staying on the straight and narrow, you can trust us to keep your reports compliant, legit, and ready to impress even the toughest critic!

So, there you have it, folks—annual reports, decoded by Be Smart Design! With us at your side, annual reports will become not just a task, but a thrilling adventure full of fun, flair, and boundless creativity! 

Get in touch to let us help you achieve annual report success!

Calling all Comms people in Social Housing! Feeling overwhelmed about annual reports?

At Be Smart Design, we understand the pressures that come with annual report season for social housing providers. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce our latest campaign, ‘Be Smart Stress Less’, designed specifically to support social housing providers in creating stunning annual reports without the hassle.

So, you’re a busy communications manager, juggling multiple tasks, and the looming deadline for your annual report is causing stress levels to rise. And here comes our secret pink package – a delightful surprise filled with branded pink goodies carefully curated to take the stress out of your annual report preparations.

But that’s not all – along with our charming pink package, we’re offering our expertise in annual report design. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, including extensive work with social housing providers, we’ve mastered the art of crafting compelling annual reports that captivate stakeholders and convey your organisation’s message with clarity and impact.


Why choose Be Smart Design for your annual report needs?
Here’s what sets us apart:

The Experience
With three decades of experience under our belt, we’ve honed our skills in designing annual reports that exceed expectations. We understand the unique needs and challenges of social housing providers and tailor our approach accordingly.

The Know-how
From financial statements to complex data visualisation, we have the knowledge and expertise to handle all aspects of annual report design. You can trust us to deliver professional results that showcase your organisations achievements and impact.

The Creativity
Annual reports don’t have to be dull and uninspiring. Our team of creative professionals brings fresh ideas and innovative design concepts to the table, ensuring your annual report stands out from the crowd and leaves a lasting impression.

So, why stress when you can ‘Be Smart Stress Less’ with Be Smart Design? Take the first step towards a stress-free annual report season by sending your annual report project our way. Let us handle the design, so you can focus on what you do best – making a difference in the lives of those you serve.

Not convinced yet? Feel free to check out our portfolio to view our work, or take a gander at our home page to read some testimonials from other happy clients.

Get in touch today – and let’s make this annual report season your best one yet!

7 hot branding topics of the year

We’re coming to the end of 2023, so we wanted to share the hottest branding topics that are currently setting the industry ablaze.

At Be Smart, we pride ourselves on staying at the forefront of what’s in, what’s out, and maintaining a playful and light-hearted  approach to not scare people off. So, get ready to explore the cutting-edge branding strategies that are captivating audiences right now in the ever-evolving landscape of creativity.

Engaging audiences through sensory branding

Sensory branding takes engagement to a whole new level by creating immersive multi-sensory experiences. Can you recall the chirp of Skype’s incoming call, the swoosh of an email being sent from an iPhone, or the percussive theme of Netflix’s start-up? These are all examples of sound branding.

Sound branding can have a powerful psychological effect and can be used to trigger specific emotions or actions. A distinctive and consistent sound can also increase brand recognition, making your brand easily identifiable amidst the noise of the market.

Whether  it’s a catchy jingle, an engaging podcast, or an immersive VR experience, sound branding can create an additional touchpoint that engages your audience in a unique and memorable way.

Minimalist branding: the power of simplicity and elegance

Sometimes, less is more. We’re noticing a clear trend in the branding world – minimalist design is proving that simplicity can have a significant impact. Brands are increasingly leaning towards straightforward designs, clean typography, and uncluttered aesthetics.

The idea here is to eliminate unnecessary fluff, allowing a brand to shape an identity that is sleek, refined, and instils a sense of confidence. Subdued colour palettes, generous use of white space, and the principles of minimalist aesthetics combine to create a bold yet understated statement. In a world where simplicity speaks volumes, minimalist branding is truly finding its footing.

Storyliving; the rise of immersive narratives

Step into the realm of “story living”, where storytelling transcends the boundaries of traditional marketing. Instead of simply telling a story, immerse your audience in a narrative that transports them to another world. Through interactive experiences, virtual reality, or augmented reality, you can engage your audience on a deeper level and make them active participants in your brand’s story. Prepare to leave a lasting impression by creating unforgettable adventures that blur the lines between fiction and reality.

Celebrating diversity through inclusive branding
The modern landscape of branding demands inclusivity. It’s all about appreciating the diverse facets of society, dismantling stereotypes, and fostering a universal sense of belonging. It’s crucial to include diversity in your visuals, communicate inclusive messages, and weave this ethos into your brand narrative.

By nurturing an environment that reflects a variety of experiences, your brand can connect with an expanded audience pool. Your commitment to equality and inclusivity won’t just make a significant social impact, it will also allow your brand to make a positive impact and resonate with a wider scope of customers. The message is clear – inclusivity isn’t just beneficial, it’s an absolute necessity in today’s world.

Interactive packaging: engaging consumers with interactive design

Gone are the days when packaging was just a container to carry a product. Now, it’s a unique opportunity to entertain and charm your customers. Interactive packaging brings together design, tech, and a dose of playfulness to craft an unforgettable unboxing journey.

Think of QR codes revealing exclusive digital content or tactile elements that appeal to more than just the eyes. Cutting-edge packaging designs hold the potential to enthrall  your audience, making the interaction memorable even after the purchase is made. So, let’s break the mould and make packaging an exciting part of the customer experience!

Sustainable branding: saving the planet, one bold brand at a time

Now’s the time to roll out your green ethos and show the world that sustainability is more than a buzzword for your brand. Sustainable branding is no longer optional; it’s an expression of your mission.

Let’s put the spotlight on your dedication to a more sustainable future, showcasing your eco-friendly practices, and enthusiastically broadcasting your green initiatives.

Brace yourself to appeal to an ever-growing cohort of eco-aware consumers who aren’t just looking for brands that talk a good game, but actually play one. Embrace sustainability, and watch your brand resonate on a whole new level.

If you’re eager to unleash our design prowess and work some branding magic, reach out to us! Let’s collaborate and create something extraordinary together.

How involved should you as a client get in the design process?

As a branding and design agency, we’re all about injecting a sense of playfulness, exhilaration, and a dash of daring into our work. We’re self-assured in our skills and delight in working with clients who are ready to push the boundaries and take a chance on something new.

While we value our clients’ unique creative visions, it’s not uncommon for us to meet clients with a rather precise concept, leaving little wiggle room for input. We acknowledge that clients possess diverse views on their brand identity, but here’s the thing – design is a collaborative process! We need to work together to create something that meets your goals while maintaining the overall quality of the design. Have faith in us; we’re the professionals, and we’ve got this down to a fine art.

We take the time to listen to our clients’ ideas and provide them with our professional opinion, it’s important for clients to know that their intentions are well-meaning, and our ultimate goal is to help our clients achieve their vision while creating a design that resonates with their audience.

Change is scary

Switching things up can be a bit nerve-wracking, and many clients prefer to play it safe. They think that if their look has always been a certain way, it should stay that way. However, we’re here to tell you that sticking to the tried-and-true isn’t always the best plan. Just take a look at Apple, a brand that’s transformed over time while staying true to its core values. Recognised worldwide, its logo even morphed into a trendy status symbol. We cheer on our clients to be daring and let their creative juices flow when it comes to their brand identity.


Working with the client

When clients bring their ideas to the table, we handpick the finest ones and mix them with our own imaginative flair. Our mission is to craft a design that embodies the client’s desires and the essence of their branding. And, let’s face it, we’re head over heels for clients who want to shake things up, ditch the old look, and embrace something zesty, thrilling, and attention-grabbing. But, here’s the catch, clients sometimes get cold feet and veer towards safer, run-of-the-mill designs because they’re hesitant to push the boat out.  Or they have an executive board who are more conservative in their views, despite the client avatar.

This can be disappointing, but what’s more upsetting is when they ask for one thing but mean something different. This usually happens when the client doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want or who their target audience is. We understand that design is just like writing; it needs a clear plan, a purpose, and a lot of expertise. But that is where we come in with the right questioning technique and sometimes moodboards.

Leave it to the experts

We understand that clients have their own creative vision, but sometimes it’s best to leave it to the experts. We have the expertise to identify design elements that only work in a particular design. Believing in the design journey is the secret sauce for success, and trust us, we don’t want you to end up with a lacklustre look.

A dud design can leave a substantial dent on a business. It’s akin to rocking a dodgy haircut; it messes with your mojo and overall aura. Loads of folks tolerate subpar designs and are gobsmacked by the traffic boost when we spruce things up. But, some clients struggle to envision the long-term oomph of the design. That’s why it’s vital to let us unveil the magic that could unfold once you take that daring plunge.

Put your trust in the design adventure and believe in our know-how. We get that you have your own vision, but come on, let us work our magic! Together, we’ll whip up a design that captures your brand’s spirit and gives your business a brilliant boost.

So, if you’re ready to take that leap and create a design that resonates with your audience, get in touch with us. We’re here to help, and we promise it’ll be a fun and exciting ride.

How to successfully onboard a design client

Customer onboarding is like the second date of business relationships – you’ve impressed them on the first date, now it’s time to get a bit more serious! It requires a little persuasive charm, a lot of honest communication, and will be a critical part of sealing the deal with your potential client.    

What’s client onboarding?

Client onboarding is the nitty gritty of turning a potential client into a paying one. You want them to sign on the dotted line for what will hopefully be a long-lasting creative collaboration. But first, you’ll need to address their concerns  and make sure they fully understand your design services and how you operate.

Think of it like a journey from your first ‘hello’ to the day you start working on their project. Onboarding is your chance to discuss with the new client:

  • What kind of service you’ll provide
  • What their role is in the partnership
  • How you’ll keep in touch with each other
  • When and how you’ll invoice
  • And of course, all the juicy details about how it’ll all come together

Why is client onboarding important?

Let’s look at this from two angles.

From the client’s point of view:

It can be nerve-wracking to choose a new supplier, who is, let’s face it, a relative stranger. And clients may not know  how partnering with a design agency works. But proper onboarding is like a sneak peek into the magical world of design. Show them the ropes and help them understand what it’s like to work with you, and they’ll feel a lot more confident about their decision.

From the supplier’s point of view:

Onboarding is not just a chance to get to know your clients (although that’s a big part of it). It’s also an opportunity to wrap your heads around the design project and get a feel for their communication style too. At this stage you can also share your ‘plan of attack’ with the client, letting them know what they can expect of you and vice versa.

Filter out ‘bad’ clients

There will be some clients that just   And let’s be honest, some that would just be a nightmare to deal with! The onboarding process is a great way to weed out these ‘bad’ clients before either of you makes a commitment. And it’s a two-way street; a chance for both parties to suss each other out and decide if you want to work together.  

Show them what you’re made of!

Finally, the onboarding process is a great opportunity to show off your skills and prove that you’re the design gurus they’ve been searching for. By doing this you’re putting their minds at ease, sealing the deal, and getting the relationship off to a great start.


What happens without a good onboarding process?

Without a top-notch onboarding process, you’re likely to either deluge a potential client with info overload or leave them feeling a bit, well…meh. It’s all about serving up just the right amount of detail to reassure them that you’re the bee’s knees, but without launching an all-out info blitz.

Remember the real nitty-gritty of onboarding – it’s about sharing what a potential client needs to know, and importantly, lending an ear to their questions and worries. The end goal is to make the journey of hiring a designer as smooth as a very smooth thing.

A dodgy onboarding process will leave the client with a sour taste, and the chances of them bringing your design agency on board will be slim. But, do it well, and they’ll be convinced there’s no one else they’d rather tango with than you!

If you’re racking up enquiries from potential clients faster than a magpie collects shiny things, but very few are converting into paying clients, then it’s definitely time for a good ol’ rethink.

Client onboarding gives you direction

Kicking off a fresh creative project with a client is always a bit like opening a box of fireworks. Ideas are buzzing around like sparklers, and everyone’s buzzing about the potential. But, without a compass, you’ll soon find yourselves wandering aimlessly in the creative wilderness.

Enter stage left: Bangin’ client onboarding. With a well-mapped plan and timetable for the project, you can delegate roles, share out responsibilities, and set expectations for all those involved. This framework makes the whole shindig a lot smoother, sidestepping any unexpected curveballs or crossed wires.

Once you’ve cracked the art of onboarding clients, it’ll be as breezy as a Sunday afternoon stroll. You’ll be strutting with confidence, comfy as a well-worn pair of trainers in your process, and clients will be well impressed with your orderly and top-notch approach.

Consider a Welcome Pack

How about rolling out the red carpet with a top-notch Welcome Pack? This is your golden chance to set the vibe for your design agency and give clients a crystal-clear picture of what they’re in for when they team up with you.

A Welcome Pack doesn’t just dish out the need-to-knows about your services, but it also helps sift out clients who might not quite fit the bill. Think of it as a trusty satnav, guiding both you and your client down the road to a triumphant project finish line.

Your Welcome Pack won’t be spilling the beans on all the individual  details (keep that tucked away for proposals and contracts), but it’ll cover the essentials like:

  • Your payment policies
  • Time frames
  • How you work
  • What you expect from your clients
  • How communication typically works

The results of good client onboarding

Strap in for the magic ride that good client onboarding can take you on. You’ll not only watch your potential clients turn into proud, paying customers, but you’ll see them:

  • Stick around for the long haul
  • Turn into loyal brand advocates
  • Snap up more of your products and services

The cherry on top? They’ll become your own little squad of brand cheerleaders, boosting your company’s growth through the timeless power of word-of-mouth. There’s no marketing tool that packs a punch quite like it!

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn’t easy, so pop us a message and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Happy Birthday to us all at Be Smart! 30 reasons why we love design

Happy 30th Birthday to us!

As we throw confetti, pop champagne, and nibble on birthday cake, we can’t help but get giddy about our passion for design. In our 30 dazzling years as a boutique branding and design agency, we’ve seen first-hand how design shapes our lives, tickles our emotions, and whispers sweet nothings to our purchasing power.

Whether its product design making our everyday lives feel like a walk in the park, graphic design luring us into the captivating world of logos and ads, or architecture setting the scene for our moods, design is our passion.

As your friendly neighbourhood design wizards, we’re all about creating not just pretty pictures, but designs that make hearts race and eyes twinkle. We’re bold, daring, and oh-so-ready to concoct unforgettable branding assets for our clients.

So, sit back, grab a slice of cake, and get ready to read 30 reasons why we love design and why you should too!

1. Creativity is our jam.
Our brains are like creative playgrounds. We live to create and create to live!

2. New friends everywhere!
Who doesn’t love making new pals? Our clients become part of our quirky little family.

3. Problem-solving ninjas.
We’re like design superheroes, swooping in to save the day with mind-blowing solutions.

4. Conquering the world, one design at a time.
Seeing our work out there is like watching our babies grow up and make us proud.

5. Inspiring others with our passion.
We’re all about creating designs that make people want to take action.

6. Designing for the greater good.
We love using our powers for good, helping with charity work and making the world a better place.

7. Lifelong learners.
We’re always levelling up, staying on top of trends, and pushing the envelope.

8. Collaboration is our middle name.
We thrive on teamwork, whether it’s with clients, freelancers, or our own design squad.

9. Riding the wave of change.
We love the ever-changing landscape of the design world, and we’re always ready to adapt and grow.

10. Designing from the heart.
We pour our soul into every project, especially when we’re passionate about the cause.

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11. Creative synergy.
We’re like a hive mind of design brilliance, bouncing ideas off each other and making magic happen.

12. Embracing innovation.
We’re at the forefront of cutting-edge design, always exploring new ways to wow our clients.

13. From start to finish.
We love watching our design babies grow from tiny seeds to full-blown masterpieces.

14. Earth lovers.
We’re all about eco-friendly design and helping our clients go green.

15. Never backing down.
We live for the challenge and the chance to flex our design muscles.

16. Brand wow-ness is our speciality.
We help our clients shine like the stars they are.

17. Onboarding like a boss.
Our smooth and seamless onboarding process gets clients excited and ready to rock.

18. Feedback fiends.
We crave client feedback like a fine wine, using it to fuel our creative fire.


19. Referrals are our love language.
There’s no better feeling than being recommended by a happy client.

20. Brand therapy sessions.
We dive deep into our clients’ minds to unlock their full potential.

21. Digging for gold.
We push our clients to go further, break boundaries, and achieve greatness.

22. Work hard, play hard.
Our team get-togethers and lunches are legendary, keeping our creative juices flowing.

23. Typography nerds.
We swoon over stunning typefaces and the endless possibilities they offer.

24. Reinventing the wheel.
We’re all about innovation, always searching for new ways to dazzle and delight.

25. Best office and furry friends.
Our cool converted church and adorable office dogs make every day a blast.

26. The “WOW” factor.
We live for those jaw-dropping moments when our clients are stunned by our work.

27. Colourful science experiments.
We adore playing with colour and diving into the psychology behind it. It’s like mixing potions in a design lab!

28. Giving back with style.
We love using our design skills to help those who might not be able to afford us. Spreading good vibes and making the world a better place, one design at a time.

29. Proud design parents.
Seeing people wear our designs is like watching our children soar. We love seeing our creations come to life on everything from snazzy workwear to fab office decor.

30. Client BFFs.
We don’t just work with clients, we form creative bromances that last a lifetime. It’s all about the laughs, the fun, and the jaw-dropping designs that make life a non-stop party.

So if you’re ready to get your design groove on and create some branding magic, hit us up! The Be Smart team is here to make your dreams come true.

Top 3 tips for getting value for money from your comms agency

Comms agency

No one wants to feel they’re wasting money, or not getting what they pay for. If you’ve decided to use a comms agency, it’s a solid step forward in the world of marketing efforts. While agencies can achieve wonders for your brand, remember that a truly successful strategy requires your active participation. So how can you make sure you get your money’s worth?

Think campaigns not tasks!

Look at the bigger plan. Whilst it may seem to cost more in the beginning it’ll be much more cost-effective, will flow better, and have better consistency if it’s all planned and delivered together. It can be problematic when you have lots of smaller, individual tasks that don’t really work together or join up. If you’re having trouble defining the purpose of your campaign, consider which of the following goals aligns the most with your own:

  • To promote a new product or service
  • To increase brand awareness
  • To gather customer feedback or content
  • To generate revenue
  • Boost user engagement
  • Advertise an upcoming event.

By deciding this, the individual elements of the campaign will be easier to plan and this makes it easier for the agency to plan efficiently.

Forward planning

Giving as much notice as possible helps agencies plan efficiently and gets them thinking early about your campaign. It’s essential to prepare your comms agency with the materials and information they’ll need while communicating the expectations you have. You’ll also need to define your communication strategy, what your brand should be saying and when and how it should say it. This can be supported with brand guidelines to ensure the content is consistent. Your agency should be able to support you with those key resources.

Give clear and concise briefs

A content brief is a document that lays out details of a content piece such as the direction it’ll take, the Call To Action it’ll lead to, a rough outline, and so on. The better informed the team is, the less confusion, the less time spent clarifying, and the more time in a project is spent on design than in meetings. A complete content brief should include everything from the goal of the piece and its unique angle to the target keywords, internal links, and CTAs. This is important in all elements, whether you’re focusing on social designs or blog posts. Agencies aren’t mind readers, and they love useful information. That said, At Be Smart we’re brief makers, not brief takers, so when you work with us you’ll follow a set process to make sure we have the information we need.

Worried you’re not getting value for your money from your existing agency? Contact us today and let us help you.

A Design Agency vs a Freelance Designer

There’s a popular saying that people don’t buy on price. That makes sense. After all, if everyone bought the cheapest cars, we’d all be rolling around in 10-year-old second or third hand vehicles. We don’t know about you, but we’ve seen a lot of new cars on the road recently, and brands such as Apple, Nike, and Ocado certainly show that some people are prepared to pay more than the average amount for tech, sportswear, and food deliveries. It seems that when they have a strong bond with the brand and see value in the products, people will and do pay more.

In the world of brand and design, you have both camps too. Those who are invested in their brand and want the best people to work on it for them, and a strong corner of consumers who cut costs and hire a freelancer over an agency.

Now, firstly, we’re not bashing freelancers here. We all started somewhere and many of us have been freelancers. We think they’re brilliant and that’s not what we’re discussing here. What we’re keen to look after are the benefits of choosing a branding agency over a freelancer for your business design work.

So, with love, let’s dive in…


Better focus makes better results.

Let’s start with the big one. A freelancer is more than a freelancer. They’re a business owner. They have way more on their plate than design!

They have bills to pay, they have emails and calls to answer, they have accounts to do, insurance to manage, and tech to set up, amongst all the other things an SME or solopreneur has to do.

When you use an in-agency designer, this isn’t the case. They work on design for the majority of their working hours. It’s what they do all the time. They get to really work on their craft and we feel that creates a better quality of designer for you.


Designers that work in agencies can offer a wider variety of skills

Our designers work on a large variety of projects and gain a wider variety of skills because of it. A larger agency will attract bigger companies with larger budgets, and they tend to have bigger scale projects with more scope for exciting work.

A freelancer is often left with the little jobs, and these can often be very much the same day-to-day. We all start somewhere, but if you’re looking for depth of knowledge and experience a branding agency might be best – unless of course your freelancer has a wealth of agency experience under their belt.


Having a team of designers in an agency improves creative output

Two or three heads are better than one. Bouncing ideas off one another is common here at Be Smart, and agencies like us. Having a team of designers also increases productivity as the working environment of many people working towards one cause drives the projects forward.

Often, when you’re working on your own, motivation like this can be sparse.


A team can turn work around faster

Branding agencies have more people, and many hands make light work. You’ll often find that behind your contact there’s a whole team working on your design, some client facing and comms, and then some doing the actual design work. This leads to a faster process and more people working on your brand, design, or creative.


Processes are more defined

Another big difference is the process within a branding agency compared to a freelancer’s set-up. A brand agency will have to put in place processes to ensure all the team work well together – especially in this remote working world.

These extra processes mean that you’re more likely to hit a promised deadline, get time booked in to do the work, have timely paperwork, proper contact and meetings booked in, and an onboarding process to help you understand what’s expected from both sides. This means that the client will always get what they’re promised, and the quality is consistent.


There’s always someone there in an agency

Holiday cover and availability for meetings is a big win for agencies over freelancers, too. When a freelancer is sick or on holiday, your project stops. We’ve heard of lots of instances of Covid illnesses meaning deadlines are missed. When you hire a team, you have more hands to the pump to get the project over the line in time.

We know… “freelancers never take holiday!” we hear you say, but that’s even worse. A tired designer is rarely going to put out fresh and successful design. Sorry, but it’s true. We all need a bit of R&R!


Design agencies have a wider range of experience

Agencies work with a wider range of industries, bringing more experience. Freelancers tend to work with a few sectors, and this can be limiting. With an agency you’ll benefit from the experience of all the team and all the clients they’ve serviced. This history and depth of knowledge really does go into your design, and you really can’t compete with that unless your freelancer is from a strong agency background.


You’re in better hands with an agency (most of the time)

Our aim here is not to bash freelancers. At times, a freelancer might be a good stop gap or ideal for smaller jobs.

That said, the benefit of an agency is you get better focus as you’re not trying to balance many projects, design work, and operational stuff in one head. A freelancer will have many responsibilities and other commitments, and this can cause them to be less creative and not deliver on time, on spec, or within budget.


We’ve love to know what you think.


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Looking for a design agency to create your next design? We’d love to say hello – contact us right here.


Why I Started Be Smart – A Staffordshire Design Agency

Branding and Digital

Be Smart took buckets of blood, sweat, and tears to become a reality; it was far from an overnight success.

But I wouldn’t change a thing.

It wasn’t an easy road to get to where we are today; a business development loan from the bank wasn’t enough and I had to apply for a grant from Walsall Training and Enterprise Council too.

But once I’d taken the plunge, I knew there was no turning back. I had to give it my all until Be Smart was a success.


Use haters as your fuel

“You’ll never amount to anything,” is what my stepfather used to tell me. He never believed in me.

His high expectations stemmed from his own success in engineering, but he didn’t understand business.

Even though those words hurt, I used them as my fuel. I wanted his approval. He became my “I’ll show you!” person.

Proving yourself to yourself is one thing, but when you have to prove yourself to others, the pressure builds. I should thank him now.

Do it for yourself – but leverage any negative energy from people who don’t think you can do it, to prove them wrong.


Be your own boss

I don’t know about you, but I hated working for other people. The thought of waking up in the morning knowing that I would be working hard just to make other people money didn’t motivate me.

I always asked myself why I didn’t apply the same effort to setting up my own business. I wanted to be my own boss and work to my own rules, my own schedule, and my own standards. I was so tired of having to follow other people’s rules and deal with them nit-picking everything I did.

Then, one day, I decided to make a change and the pieces started to fit together like a puzzle.


My eureka! moment

I noticed a gap in the market when dealing with design buyers.

The quality of client service was extremely low. It lacked imagination and creativity, but I knew how to do that and could picture the perfect service if I was in charge.

So, I decided to go for it and set up my own thing. I knew I could do better than what was already out there; I had the passion and drive to make it a reality. And even if I put 150% into it and still failed, I would just accept that it wasn’t meant to be!

At least I would have tried, and that’s half the battle. It felt like the perfect time to go for my dreams.


The moral of the story

Go for it.

Always under-promise and go above and beyond to deliver your best work, every time.

Hard work and persistence do not go unnoticed, and you’ll get to where you need to be when the time is right.

Think of the journey more than the destination and everything will fall into place.

Trust me, it will pay off in the end, just as it did for me. Good luck!

Remember, if you want help with your own brand strategy, just get in touch with the Be Smart team.