If you’re searching for a design and branding specialist where should you start? What is the difference between a freelancer vs contractor vs agency and which is the best choice for you? The answer lies in the scale of your project, and the level of expertise required to shape it effectively.

Making the right choice when bringing on creative assistance for your project can feel challenging. There is no shortage of websites where thousands of incredibly talented designers are only a DM away, plus a plethora of large agencies with diverse and impressive portfolios are in no short supply.

Who should you choose to fit your needs? Are they experienced enough to complete your project? Do their rates fit within your budget? Can they commit enough time to meet your deadline? Can you communicate with them effectively and trust them to deliver?

There are three main categories of Design Service out there, and it is important to know who is right for your project and what to expect for their time and talents. This is especially important if you are under strict time constraints or a hefty budget is on the line.

Freelancer vs Contractor vs Agency: Understand the Difference

The Freelancer

Freelance designers are in no short supply when performing a google search in any given area. The benefit of working with Freelancers is that they are usually priced at the lower end of the spectrum, the trade-off being that a bit more micromanagement and direction may be required on your part.
You should consider reaching out to a Freelancer if you already have very clear goals and are prepared to guide them through your brief.
Agencies will often subcontract to Freelancers if they demonstrate strong skills in a particular field such as being freehand lettering experts, using a unique illustration style which suits a project, or demonstrated efficiency at certain tasks when there is Agency workload overflow.
If you are in a senior Marketing position and need assistance on a project, then a Freelancer may be an excellent fit.

illustration showing a freelance graphic designer at a comfortable home office
illustration showing a professional contractor at his workspace

The Contractor

A Contractor is someone who often has a strong Design background, but they also have a firm grasp on broader marketing and branding principles, as well as how these tie into overall business operations. If you reach out to a Contractor, they will usually be assuming the role of a fill-in Specialist for the duration of your project, or providing your existing staff with guidance to help connect the dots before hand-off.
You can expect the Contractor to assume management of your project and deliver the results you are expecting through initial and ongoing communication with any stakeholders in the project.

The benefit of working with a contractor is that they have a clear set of skills they can reliably bring on board without the need for micromanagement. You have temporarily employed someone to manage the problem for you, which frees up time to focus on your key business priorities.

The Agency

At the upper end of the pricing spectrum, you have the services of an Agency. The cost may vary depending on the scale of the Agency and their portfolio, but expect to pay well into the tens of thousands for their services. Most Agencies have key marketing department Specialists as well as junior designers, to produce a large volume of deliverables within deadlines. This allows the Agency to take care of the whole brand and marketing journey for several clients; brand strategy, brand development, website building, marketing strategy, and executing ongoing marketing efforts and reporting.

The Agency will usually produce all of your print and digital advertising in-house, coordinate any photo and video production, and subcontract to any specialists required for your project who may not already be part of their team.

Larger companies seeking a rebrand will usually work with an Agency because there are many millions of dollars and various shareholders involved. Deep market analysis and round table meetings may be a common sight during these projects rather than pen-on-paper design.

An Agency is a great choice if the stakes are high and you have a complex project which requires a big team to piece together.

illustration showing three members from the futur agency

So, Where Does Genki Graphic Fit?

Now that you have a better picture of the different services to expect from a freelancer vs contractor vs agency, you might be asking yourself where Genki Graphic is positioned.
Primarily comprising of a Brand Specialist and a full-stack developer, Genki Graphic has a variety of contacts in the industry who we bring on board on a per-contract basis. Together w
e develop great Brands, design unique Logos, then set up our clients for the marketing world with a user-centric Website, branded Identity Packages, and a range of marketing support. This means Genki Graphic is comfortably positioned between the role of a contractor and a full-scale agency – it all depends on the scope of your project!