The best way to find a solid design firm for your marketing needs is trust. “Trust is the bedrock of our client-agency relationships,” said a spokeswoman for Publicis Media. Ad agencies are infamous for violating trust, and even large firms are not immune to the dishonesty of their constituents. In January 2017 Honda Motor Co.’s U.S. branch was forced to shift more than $500 million media-buying accounts from Mediavest Spark due to suspected misallocation of company funds (The Wall Street Journal). Last spring, the Association of National Advertisers shed light on dishonest agency behavior, claiming certain agencies collected rebates from vendors in exchange for reaching certain spending thresholds in the U.S. With this in mind, make sure you aren’t hiring hacks to run your business.


Now that you know that trusting an ad agency is vital to your company’s growth, you soon realize that honesty is a difficult characteristic to find. Trust is something hard to gain, but easy to lose. When you are searching for an agency to develop and execute your marketing strategy, you need to know you can trust them. Your best chance at achieving success in this endeavor is through careful examination of the agencies’ internal structures. You must ask yourself the following questions:

“Who is the creative director, and what do they bring to the table?”

Creative directors are an essential part of every design firm. You want a creative director who knows the business well. “The creative director is intimately involved in everything from the initial project meetings to the final launch,” writes Janet Odgis of the Huffington Post. As a result, the creative director should bring more than just management and budgeting skills to the table.

Your creative director should have experience in every area of the creative arena. If they do not, you need to fire them or chose a different firm. It is necessary that he/she has experience with all artistic and technical aspects that go into successful campaign creation. They should be a jack-of-all trades, having experience in areas such as copywriting, graphic and web design, webpage creation and maintenance. In addition, your creative director should be business savvy and always have a clear direction in mind for your marketing campaign. They also need to be familiar with copyright laws in order to save you from legal issues.

One final trait essential for any successful creative director is empathy. You want your director to possess this characteristic. “Empathy they say — not apathy, not sympathy,” writes  John M. Eger of the Huffington Post, “is fast becoming the secret to corporate success, and to success in life’s many pathways.” This trait allows your design director to understand you and your business. It also allows them to better connect with your advertising teams and your consumers, resulting in work that will get you results.

“Who is on my creative team and what are they like?”

One final factor you should consider when choosing an advertising firm is the creative team itself. Though selecting a creative director is an important step for growing your business, this is only half of the equation. Great creative directors need a great creative team. David Ogilvy said, “If you hire giants, you will build a company of giants. If you hire pygmies you will build a company of pygmies.” (Gerry Farrell, The Drum).  With that in mind, when hiring an ad agency, you need to know your potential design team is not a team of “pygmies”. Even the best leaders need a solid crew to support them. Imagine Julius Cesar without his legions or George Washington without his rebels. As Former House Speaker John Boehner famously said, “A leader without followers is simply a man (or woman) taking a walk,” (Dustin McKissen,  

You need to choose an ad agency that not only has a great director, but also brings a great team to the table. The only way to do this is by familiarizing yourself with the men and women who will be producing your marketing materials. This allows you to better understand the type of work an agency can provide you. In addition, this gives your marketers better a vision of you, your business, and your marketing strategy.