Client collaboration is at the heart of all the creative output here at Hat Trick Media. Whether we're creating a new website, an email newsletter campaign or a selection of sales literature, the design stages involve key decision makers from the outset to completion.
As a design agency, we understand how to convey, communicate and persuade through good design, but we'll never know a client's audience as well as they do. It would be remiss of us not to use that knowledge and experience to help shape the creative output. It just makes everything better.
Of course this requires our client to invest their time with us too and we know that time doesn't come for free, but the feedback we get from clients is that they like being able to help shape the outcome. That time they have to put in though is saved when it comes to iterations and amends within the design. Rather than find we've journeyed down the least desired path when it comes to colour, imagery or typography, key decisions like this can be agreed quickly. Only the best options are persevered with and evolved. So much time is saved here!
A recent example of this is when a local security company was struggling to rebrand with their old design agency. They'd gone through a detailed brief together, but after six months of submissions and ideas, the customer just wasn't satisfied with what was being produced. They reached out to us and within an afternoon we'd collaboratively created the new identity, applied it to all manner of things such as alarm bell boxes, signage, stationery and vehicle livery.
The investment of time from a client is also rewarded through the emotional attachment to the work. This generally isn't found when adopting the traditional approach of an agency submitting multiple ideas, usually with very little interaction before hand.
"We have recently had our entire e-commerce website overhauled by Eddie and the excellent team at Hat Trick Media. A major part of the journey of any website is ensuring the design and layout of the website is correct and meets the outlined brief from the outset. One of the many advantages of using Hat Trick Media is that Eddie personally takes the time to visit our offices so we can work through the initials designs together face to face of and basically get the foundations created for the entire design and look of the website. The major benefit of doing this on site and face to face is that you can easily and quickly make changes and I as the customer can tell Eddie if we are are on the right path or if changes need to be made. I have used Hat Trick Media in the past and can honestly say they are a pleasure to work with. The main selling point is the personal approach that Hat Trick Media adopt and to me the most essential part of any website overhaul is to get the initial design correct - I had ideas and a clear vision of what and how I wanted the website to look and work and Eddie absolutely nailed it with the initial design ideas he showed me and this type of vision cannot be created talking to me over the phone."
Tom Richardson, Director, LocksDirect
On top of the results though, the actual creative process is far more enjoyable. As Tom testifies.
We still invest in amazing prototyping and comment sharing tools like InVision though. Not everyone on a project is available at the same time. Tools like InVision keep us on the same page.
The other telling thing about collaboration is value. We often get asked at the start of a project discussion what our hourly rate is. We have to have one, but we feel it's so academic. Yes clients need to know an idea of how much the work is likely going to cost and the hourly rate allows them to make a price comparison between design agencies, but what it lacks to seek is the process that's undertaken throughout the project. As I've mentioned, on site designs means we can be rapid with decision making - a client isn't paying for ideas that aren't correct (or sometimes very good). It also means they get to see where their investment is going - namely on our experience and ability to provide creative solutions faster and far better than they could themselves. It may be therefore that our hourly rate is higher than a second or third provider, but we arrive at something perfect much sooner. Incidentally, our hourly rate is well below the national average according to the Design Business Association figures for a regional design agency - £101.33. 2016 DBA Annual Survey Report. Just thought that was worth mentioning :-)
One local business we've been working with for well over 12 years now is BGB Innovation and everything we've done with them has been through collaboration. It works so well because they're an innovative company too. I sort of implied that in their name, but James Tupper, their Marketing, Sales & I.T. Systems manager is full of ideas that have helped shaped a project. We're never too proud to not take on suggestions, unlike some of the cliches in our industry, and a lot of the great work we've done together is testament to that ethos. Without collaboration, that would be unlikely.
"We found Hat Trick Media to be a very customer centric agency, responding quickly to our requirements and even coming to site to work collaboratively on the designs to speed up the whole process."
Caroline Clarkson, Marketing Manager, Eclisse UK
So, the next time you engage your graphic designer or design agency, consider how much collaboration they're willing to undertake with you. Are they happy to work on site with you at your premises or home if you're just starting up? Ask to see their work or portfolio and discover how much of it was collaboration - I'll wager that the better work is always a result of more input from parties who really care about it.