Examiner.com: Selecting a San Francisco Graphic Design Firm: How Our Design Clients Find and Choose Us

This is an interesting interview with clients looking to hire a web or graphic design agency in the San Francisco Bay area.

Examiner.com: Selecting a San Francisco Graphic Design Firm: How Our Design Clients Find and Choose Us

Thumbtack.com is one of our clients – we’ll be showcasing their project in the next few weeks.

Preface: This article offers tips and advice for both graphic design firms and the businesses seeking to hire them. Although the focus is on San Francisco graphic design firms (a city bursting at the seams with a slew of graphic design firms and freelance designers), the contents are universal and beneficial to all geographic locations.

In my previous article, How to get graphic design and copywriting clients, I interviewed three top creative firms and asked them all the nitty-gritty details on how to generate new business. Then I got to thinking…how great would it be to have just a few minutes of the clients’ time to pick their brains on how they find and choose us?

Choosing a graphic design firm can be a daunting process. Offering fantastic first-hand perspective on the process are: Marco Zappacosta, co-founder and CEO of Thumbtack an online marketplace for local services; Lauren Schiller, co-founder of the weekly San Francisco radio show, Lady Brain; and Tex Dworkin, Director of Social Media for Global Exchange. Moderated by San Francisco graphic designer / writer, Stephanie Orma of Orma Design and She’s SO Creative, the three share their experience, advice, fears, and turns-off in selecting a design firm. This is an honest, eye-opening discussion that every designer-seeking-client must read.

1. In a nutshell, please describe your business.

Zappacosta: Thumbtack is an online marketplace for local services (think eBay for services).

Schiller: Lady Brain is the most candid advice show on San Francisco radio. My partner Steph and I cover topics so personal, you may have thought they could only happen to you. We air on KUSF 90.3 FM. Our weekly show is also available through iTunes and on our website, askladybrain.com.

Dworkin: I sit on the board of the Fair Trade Resource Network and Fair Trade Federation Fundraising committee. These organizations are networks/resources for Fair Trade, socially responsible businesses in the U.S.

2. Why were you in need of a designer?

Zappacosta: When we started Thumbtack, we didn’t have any design capabilities in-house, but knew it would be key to building a good service. So we decided to hire an outside firm.

Schiller: When we first launched the show, we knew we needed to grow our online presence to support podcast downloads and get the word out to ladies everywhere about Lady Brain. We have a blog and Facebook page, but needed a home for our brand online. We also wanted to represent ourselves as a legitimate broadcasting presence, not just another podcast.

Dworkin: We were seeking a designer to design a new calendar that would be sold in retail stores as a fundraising tool for our organization.

3. How did you go about finding a designer?

Zappacosta: We set about the search mainly by mining blog posts and lists of “best SF designers.” We didn’t post any Craigslist ads because we’d heard of people getting inundated with crap. After creating a list of potential candidates, we did a deep dive into their portfolios to identify whether we liked their style and whether they’d ever attempted a project like ours.

{...edited for length...}

9. Were you happy with the outcome? Anything you would have done differently?

Zappacosta: We felt Project6 Design was one of the best graphic design firms in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we selected them and were quite happy with what we got: www.thumbtack.com ...

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