Independent Designer vs Agency

With affordable technology and large networks of collaborators, is there a reason to go with a big agency over a really good independent designer?

I’ve been on all sides of this equation over my 17 years in the biz. I’ve worked at firms large and small, I’ve freelanced, I’ve worked inhouse, I’ve worked with outside agencies, and now I have a small firm that competes against big agencies. There are a lot of reasons why an independent designer or small firms are much better for your business, let’s take a look at some of the best.

Bigger is Not Better

If an agency is using size as a differentiator, run away. In my article titled “The Full Service Fallacy” I go into detail about positioning and why size doesn’t equate good. In summary, bigger is not better, better is better, and different is MORE better. With a large agency much of the cost goes toward their massive bottom line. Pay for great work that will help your business, not a fancy office you visit once or twice during the sales process.

Build Dream Teams

Smaller firms, like Propr, have extensive networks that allow us to build teams based on our client’s budget and needs. I have other indy dev shops and freelance developers I use on web projects. Often times Propr is hired to just design, no marketing or development, but if the need comes up, we certainly can build the perfect team and deliver great work. I have marketing people, content creators, photographers, videographers, production artist, etc. to pull into a project as needed. There is a huge benefit to this model. My clients aren’t stuck with the team I have on staff and I’m not stuck with big overhead. Instead I build the perfect dream team for what my clients need.

No Bait & Switch

One of the most frustrating things a big agency can do to a client is the bait and switch. The B+S is when the agency puts a fancy creative director (I’ve been that guy) in front of you during the sales process and during meetings, but a junior level designer is the one doing the work. Agencies that bill hourly do this because it is how they make more money per project. The young designer is likely making $25 per hour while they charge you $150 per hour, and you end up getting junior level creative. That sucks.

Hiring a small firm like Propr gets you a senior level designer, creative director, and consultant that will work closely and directly with your business and actually do the majority of the designing. This is one of the reasons why we don’t prescribe solutions until we do a diagnosis. On the contrary agencies want to sell the project and figure it out from there.

Value > Cost

If your business needs a new website or brand identity work, you can hire a full time creative to join your team at over fix figures a year. Or you can hire a large agency that focuses on the sale more than the service. Or you can partner with a small firm or independent designer that will bring greater value to your business and a larger return for your investment.

Propr Plug

I started Propr to offer expertise in designing brand identities and websites. 
I work with businesses per project and on retainer to bring creativity, dialogue, and results to your projects. I have a user centered design process that focuses on the people in your audience while ensuring the designs help achieve your business goals and brand aspirations.

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