What Should Startups Look for in an Agency?

What Should Startups Look for in an Agency?

Mary CatalfamoJun 20, 2024

A startup isn’t just a small business. Whether it’s software on your phone or an item you can put on a shelf, a startup is meant to disrupt an industry and create change.

The agency you want to work with is an agency that understands the difference. 

As a boutique agency with an agile team of creatives, Idea Kraft is always excited to work with startups – from a subscription-based litter box company with a playful personality to a meal delivery service that doesn’t compromise on freshness

We know that startups are an exciting investment, but they’re also a big investment of time, energy, and funds. Our goal is always to see your vision, bring it to life, and deliver it to the right market for the highest return.

Why Do Startups Work with Agencies?

A startup founder may work with a creative agency for many of the same reasons any business owner might: creative and aesthetic expertise, marketing strategy, and brand architecture. 

But startup founders tend to seek an agency partnership as they build the product itself. That kind of early partnership can include naming the product, establishing a tagline and logo, and in-depth market research. That foundational work then informs the rest of the agency’s work: overarching brand guidelines, website, ecommerce platform, and physical collateral.

How Do You Know Which Agency is Right?

So how do you pick an agency that just “gets” it: both what your startup does and how startups work?

Reviewing the agency’s website or portfolio is a good start, especially to get a sense of their style and range. But you probably won’t know if an agency is the perfect fit until you engage with them, either with a consultation or a proposal. 

When that time comes, keep an eye out for the following good signs:  

Adaptable Processes

You can’t always predict how a startup will evolve – especially in the early stages of product development. So there should be processes in place to handle any necessary adjustments.  

When discussing a timeline, don’t focus only on the end date. Ask what the key deliverables will be and whether you will have an opportunity to give feedback on them.  

At Idea Kraft, for example, we don’t just ask you to fill out a brief and then present the final result. We invite client collaboration throughout the process by presenting each stage of logo and content development, which gives us the flexibility to change course without going back to Square One. 

Up-To-Date Marketing Strategies

You can’t disrupt the current market with last year’s marketing tactics, especially not with ever-evolving AI technology and major changes to Google’s third-party tracking. 

The right agency will be on top of the strategies that are outdated and which ones present opportunities. For example, AI-generated search results (also called “no-click” search results) can jeopardize the success of a standard on-page SEO strategy. But there are ways to use no-click to your advantage; read more about them here.

Tech developments impact everyone – including the audience your startup is targeting. An agency that stays on top of these changes will make sure your audience personas are accurate, up to date, and full of insights you can feel confident showing investors. 

A Versatile Portfolio

Seeing that an agency has experience in your field is always positive. But don’t overlook the power of versatility. For startups especially, a versatile portfolio with a variety of clients is a good sign that an agency isn’t afraid to go outside their comfort zone.  

When working with the startup Green Fork, we knew it would be smart to switch to a less-is-more approach. In their case, that meant photography-forward imagery with a refined, charming graphic system to support their delicious product. 

But, for Savvy Cat, it was all about dialing up the playfulness with adorable illustrations and a catchy name that would demonstrate how Savvy Cat’s subscription-based litter concept is just as clever as our favorite feline friends. 

A Growth Mindset

For startups especially, Idea Kraft prioritizes scalability at every level. When reviewing a proposal or taking a consultation, look for signs that the agency is thinking ahead for your company’s growth. 

If they recommend an ecommerce platform, ask why they recommend it. Is it because the platform is as easy to manage with a few orders or as it is with a few hundred orders? Thinking ahead might also look like including graphics for a brick-and-mortar store in their vision of your brand guidelines. 

How to track website traffic over time and a strategy for ad placement should also happen early on in the discussion period. Idea Kraft designs for easy long-term web maintenance from the very first kick-off meeting; learn more about how we make web updates easy or how to keep your CMS in great shape.

Idea Kraft is a creative agency serving clients across the country.

Idea Kraft is a New York State-based branding agency with the ability to work with brands based anywhere in the country. See how we can help your startup from concept to launch and even expansion; schedule a consultation or get in touch with us today.

Your inbox needs more Idea Kraft.

Fresh tips and expert advice, delivered to your inbox monthly.