Have you ever found yourself scrambling in front of the barista at the local coffee shop? You’ve already ordered your drink, that was the easy part. But then you were asked, as you have been every other time you’ve ventured in for a coffee, whether you had your loyalty card. Almost without thinking, you automatically say yes. Then your hands go rustling through all your pockets, in your bag and through your wallet. Until you find it, hidden behind another loyalty card for some place you haven’t visited in months. But, you pull it out, all dog-eared and wrinkled, the barista punches on another slightly off centre stamp, and you can relax, once again reassured that you are now one step closer to the promised rewards.

It is the promise of these rewards that drives the loyalty scheme. In some sense, loyalty deserves to be rewarded. There are plenty of benefits to these schemes: they build relationship and trust between the consumer and business, they build a sense of ‘tribe’ and community, something only shared by those on the scheme, and they, of course, usually end in some kind of reward. There is little difference between this and a retained partnership in design work.

A ‘retained partnership’ is a working relationship formed between a design agency and a client. The client purchases, for a specified amount of time, the ability to use and retain a certain number of the designer’s hours, usually at a reduced hourly rate, each month. This makes it incredibly easy for both parties, with the designer able to get to know and build relationship with the client and brand in a way they would otherwise be unable to do, and the client gets a guarantee of work, usually for greater value for money.

Here, we’ll go through just a few of the many benefits of retainer partnerships and what makes them so good - all the images included with this article are from 1 retained client depicting over 7 years of consistent output and partnership.

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The world is built on relationships, so this is a good place to start. A retained partnership helps foster and nurture powerful relationships between us, the designers, and you, the client. We will be interacting with you daily, and we can become pseudo-colleagues, as we work together so closely so often. Not only does this help mend some of the painful individuality and disconnect the modern world struggles with, but it also helps create a working partnership that is built on trust and knowledge of one another. As the consistency of the contract becomes clear, the trust between us grows. This can also lead to better work. As we know more about the business, we can create content that best communicates and represents your brand.

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While guarding your brand is key, a retained partnership can also help it develop; taking an original idea, logo or design proposal and helping develop that into a powerful brand that customers can recognise in a second and can connect with personally. With an intimate, consistent and sustained relationship with you, we are best positioned to help your brand develop and grow. The partnership and teamwork between the design agency and client can help the brand reach heights that would otherwise be unattainable.

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As guardians and developers of the brand, retained partnerships can enable us to preempt seasonal and event requirements. This becomes a natural part of the design process, as we become involved with the plans, events, ideas and endeavours of your company; a natural part of the work schedule, as we will know we will be working with you in the run up to events and will be involved in the branding process. Thereby meaning that designs, products and outputs can be effectively created in ample time before the event or holiday.

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As already touched on, retained partnerships can also be greater value for money. Oftentimes, extra studio hours can be offered for free in exchange for a 6 or 12 month retainer agreement. Plus, the relationship is much like having an in-house designer at a fraction of the cost. The formula kind of goes like this: the more hours you sign up for, the cheaper the hourly rate gets. It can also work out rather more cost effective, as you would end up paying monthly instead of ‘per job’. This can save money in the long run and make the work process a lot more efficient.

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As the relationship in the retained partnership grows, the day-to-day jobs become more natural. There is no job too small (or too big) for us. We can attend to everything, and can make sure you are well equipped and in the best position to achieve all your brand sets out to achieve. Retained partnerships are a powerful way to work with us, and can be the best way to utilise all our years of expertise and experience. It works well for both of us, and you don’t even need to scramble around for your loyalty card!

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