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Ask Us For Ideas, The Matchmaker For Brands & Design Agencies

by Casha Doemland on 11/26/2018 | 4 Minute Read

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What if you as a brand could skip over the hassle involved with finding the perfect design agency because there was a service offering to match you with your dream agency based on need, price point and chemistry? Would you do it? Well, that's just what childhood friends and founders of Ask Us For Ideas, (AUFI) Toby Wilkinson and Nick Bell, built their company on.

"When we left university eight years ago, there was a huge growth in small, independently-owned creative agencies," says Wilkinson. "At the same time, we discovered there was a desire on the client side to work with more agencies, but a lack of knowledge as to why, where or who they should be talking to in regards to their specific needs. So, one thing led to another, the stars aligned and they led us to found Ask Us For Ideas."

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The duo began by taking the usual steps to get AUFI off the ground – from business plans and obtaining agencies, to establishing the brand and company name. Wilkinson even found humor in the fact that the company name was a placeholder for a domain until something better came along. It wasn't until a client told them how it served as an accurate descriptor for their mission that they decided to keep it.

As for collecting agencies to add to the roster, that required some work."At the very beginning, we had to go out and try to find people. While we relied heavily on desk research, we were fortunate that Nick had some friends from university that knew of exciting design and creative agencies," says Wilkinson. "Together, we approached 20 agencies, primarily in the traditional branding and graphical communications base.”

From there, the network organically grew via word of mouth, and they've paired agencies with big-name clients like Google and Casper.

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They’ve kept their focus on working with small, independently-owned agencies that range from one or two individuals to much larger teams. From there, the agencies are divided into four tiers from most expensive on the top end to most affordable on the bottom. Typically, Bell or Wilkinson kick things off by asking a series of questions to gauge what you're looking for from an agency in terms of budget and project type.

After reviewing a potential client's responses, they'll compile a short list of 4 to 5 agencies that fit the bill and allow you to take it from there. Generally speaking, a chemistry meeting will occur first to determine if the agency is the right fit for you and your project. If everything clicks, both parties proceed to the task at hand. If you don’t, you’ve got a few more agencies to chat with until one does.

"We never want to get involved for getting involved’s sake. We're here to support where and when needed," starts Wilkinson. "We will, however,  catch up with the client every once and while throughout the process to see how they feel as well as address any concerns they may have."

AUFI's sole purpose is to connect refreshing brands with great agencies. If you're worried about a timeline, they work as quick or slow as you need to guarantee a project's completion.

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The London-based agency continues to grow their network with new clients from all over, however, 80% of their clients are based in the USA. Wilkinson and Bell would like to expand their members into different regions as the need arises, as well as create the space to work with not-for-profits. "We'd love to help those businesses connect with passionate individuals or agencies and to help get those messages out," chimes in Wilkinson.

For now, they're happy with their small team of four and all the opportunities they've been granted over the last eight years.

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"We have been blessed to meet some of the most incredible people on the agency side who really didn't need us, our service or business, but took us under their wing and helped us grow our business," states Wilkinson. "It's been equal parts rewarding and humbling."

As a professional matchmaker, AUFI is there to offer expert advice on who to link up with so brands don't have to spend countless hours swiping left until they find the perfect pairing when hunting for creative, design or branding agencies. The experience is quick and easy as they've already done all the legwork. All a brand has to do is supply what they're looking for and allow the magic to happen.

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