How to Get Creative Help with Advertising Your Brand

By Bill Chiaravalle, Barbara Findlay Schenck

When you’re creating a long-lasting marketing piece or launching a major branding campaign on which you’re pinning high expectations, think seriously about hiring pros to help you do the job right. Consider the following resources:

  • Free or almost-free resources: Media outlets and marketing suppliers such as printers, sign makers, and publishers often offer free or close-to-free design tools. If you’re updating existing materials, free is a great price. But beware: If you want a unique, creative concept or ad look, turn to professionals who can devote the time and talent necessary to do the job, at a price.

  • Crowd-sourced solutions: Sites such as 99designs.com and CrowdSpring.com have enlisted tens of thousands of designers to provide rapid response to client requests that are treated like design contests. Designs address the needs outlined in a creative brief you’ll be required to complete, and they usually cost less than traditionally purchased creative services.

    Realize that designers participating in a contest don’t commit the time or participate in the collaborative discussions you can expect from a typical client-professional relationship. Also, be aware that you can’t use the designs you receive until agreeing to and signing the site’s terms of service.

  • Marketing professionals: Consider using freelance professionals, design or production studios, full-scale agencies, and brand consultants. When working with marketing professionals, be sure to do the following:

    • Match services to your needs. If you’re seeking one-time assistance, a freelancer may work fine. If you want to acquire a long-term creative-development or branding partner, an ongoing relationship is a better choice.

    • Set your priorities. If you’re seeking cutting-edge creative ideas, find an agency that reels in creative awards. If your emphasis is online marketing, head toward a group with proven experience in the digital communications arena. If you want help from someone with deep knowledge of your industry or market sector, or someone with government, business, or even social or client connections, state that priority before you start interviewing potential resources.

    • Define and be ready to share the budget you plan to commit. If your budget doesn’t fit with the professional’s client profile, better to know sooner than later.

When you identify professionals whose expertise match your needs, make your decision by following these steps:

  1. Decide how many professionals you want to interview.

    If your project is simple or your budget is low, talk to one top-choice supplier and save yourself and other professionals the drill of a competition that will eat up the time and money on all sides.

  2. If you interview multiple professionals, follow this process so that you compare apples to apples:

    1. Share your needs, priorities, budget, and timeline with each firm’s CEO, and determine the firm’s interest and whether its capabilities fit well with your needs.

    2. Review each firm’s presentation and then make your selection.

    3. Get a professional services agreement in writing