How to Have a Good Client / Design Agency Relationship?

Here at Insight Multimedia, we are blessed to have ‘the best’ clients (well… most of them anyway !) . We are also quite good at the whole ‘client/agency relationship’ thing, even if we say so ourselves. Thankfully we have fostered many long-term client relationships which has led to our core business model being based on delivering dependable ongoing services to our clients. Our clients are our business and these happy clients go on to recommend and bring new clients to us, based the level of good customers service that we continue to maintain and deliver.

We like ensure that we keep a good ongoing relationship with all our clients… but we also recognise that not all digital agencies have a smooth relationship with their clients. When budgets and deadlines are involved, working relationships can take their toll and relationships can get heated.

Although we strongly believe that the ultimate responsibility for a good relationship between  a digital agency and a client lies with the agency, there are some things that the client should do to make sure that the final product is delivered the way that they had envisioned it.

Here are four simple things that clients can do to create a strong ‘client/design agency relationship’ that compliments each other just like wine and cheese.

Clearly Identify Your Goals

There’s nothing better than starting a project with a client who has a ‘clear’ vision of what they want the project to achieve.

A clear brief like “allow existing customers to process repeat orders online quickly” helps the digital agency to focus and make a clear informed proposal on how to approach a project. Giving your digital agency a clear set of goals and objectives gives your agency a clear roadmap to provide you with a framework and different cost options that can be used to achieve your objectives.

On the other hand, when you start with an ambiguous objective, you are walking a dangerous path, making the agency’s job very difficult. In this situation it is hard for the agency to ‘deliver’ as you have no goal or expectation, so you may never be satisfied with what they deliver.

Say it Loud and Clear

When communicating your feedback to your agency, don’t be apologetic about it. At Insight, we are very open to hearing your vision and thoughts during the creative process. We are ‘all ears’ to what you’ve got to say and value your feedback and comments as this is the fastest way for us to deliver and meet your expectations.

For instance, if you don’t like a specific colour or a typeface, then tell your agency !

Especially when it comes to the design elements that you hate, be straight and clearly communicate these to your agency (before they begin work on the project). Don’t wait until they present a visual to you that includes elements you ‘hate’, try and point these out in the first instance (during initial project discussions). When the design team knows what not to use, then they can easily create designs that will work for you and avoid including elements that are going to annoy you and waste their time. Design teams love to be challenged and expect to have to find  innovative and creative ideas to satisfy a project brief. At the same time, be ready for questions from your agency. At the end of the day, your agency is creating the project for your business audience and customers and not just for you ! So if you don’t really like a particular shade of blue, then you may need to have a good reason… if it works for the overall objective of the project then your dislike of a particular shade of blue may not be relevant.

Don’t Always Rely on Email

Email is a great modern communication tool but… it can also be a curse. Sometimes emails don’t relay the tone and body language of what is being explained.

Emails can easily be misread. Comments and statements within an email can sometimes be misinterpreted and taken the wrong way by either party, especially the tone and sentiment of an observation can be misconstrued and sometimes unintended offence can be taken by the reader.  So try to include telephone or face to face communications during a project build. People tend to be more friendly when speaking to each other verbally as opposed to digital correspondence. Digital correspondence is more ‘mater of fact’ and short on personality, empathy and tonal expression.

Sometimes, I will read an email and think to myself, “Ooops ! I’ve totally annoyed the client there.” And then I will pick up the phone to the client, only to find out ‘everything is fine’.

Where possible, take the time to chat or meet the digital agency in person. At the very least, have a phone call, Skype call or a video chat to discuss the project progress occasionally during the process. It puts things in a better perspective when you discuss things and bounce ideas back and forward rather than just bullet point instruction and comments.

One to one meetings allow you to know each others point of view better and communicate information and ideas on the project better with each other.

Be Patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Although on paper, your vision and the end product that you have in mind can seem quite straightforward and easy to implement, in reality, it may take a little more time for the design agency to setup the ground work for the project to be delivered correctly. The project has to be done correctly and the initial foundation work is what is sometimes overlooked by the client. After all, the reason you are hiring a professional digital agency is because they ultimately know how to execute a project correctly and to the highest standard by avoiding those long term pit falls by using their extensive experience and ‘know how’.

So be patient with your digital agency. Remember to have regular check-ins and make sure you communicate regularly with the agency project leader. They will keep you informed on progress and let know how the development team are doing and when to expect the next review, etc.


If you put transparent and open communication at the top of your client/digital agency relationship, your relationship will in no time evolve into a perfect partnership.

You have a responsibility to be a ‘good client’ to your agency. You need to clearly communicate with your digital agency and allow them to expand and deliver your goals in an efficient and professional manner. You must at all times remember to focus on ‘assisting’ them to deliver ‘your vision’ and requirements. Digital agencies thrive on challenges and love to ‘deliver the undeliverable’.  But remember you have to work with them to help them achieve this common goal. Its a partnership !

Credit: Bob Stokes