Sometimes projects just don’t work out well. Sometimes the reason for that is clear. Sometimes it’s not.

So, the question for you, dear digital agency shopper, is “how do we make sure we’ve done everything possible to hit the bullseye on your next project?”

I call it the Good Work Equation:

I’ll explain it here briefly, and it may sound obvious enough. However, it’s what’s not said here that impacts the output. Read on and then I’ll clarify what I mean by that with a real example.


  • Do both client and agency clearly understand why this project is needed?
  • How does this project work with your overall digital marketing strategy?
  • Can the agency accurately define your goals and determine the most effective methods to engage your target audience?
  • How will we know we succeeded?
  • Will the results be measurable so you’ll know where to improve?
  • Is the scope clearly defined and documented?


  • Does the agency portfolio accurately represent the expertise and experience you need?
  • Does the agency actually possess the ability to achieve your goals?
  • Is the agency’s talent level superior?
  • Are its employees resilient in finding the right solution?
  • Are both client and agency personnel willing to truly collaborate together?


  • How structured is their process? What’s it like?
  • Does it work for all different types of clients in different industries and geographies?
  • How are milestones defined and met?
  • Do they have the time to do it right? Do you?
  • Are action items, schedules, and lines of communication iterative and documented?
  • Is the target audience really considered in deciding what the right solution is?

The right mix of all three will result in a successful solution. The wrong mix of those 3 and you’ll be drowning in the sorrows of burned budgets and broken relationships. It may be the agency’s fault. It may not be. That’s where this equation has to be thought about from both sides.

For example, we had a recent prospect come in to talk to us about redesigning their corporate brand. They had worked with another agency for months with umpteen rounds of edits and still no luck in getting a final mark approved. They were looking for a new agency to bail out the project and get it to the finish line. I then explained the Good Work Equation to them and then asked the C-level executive before me which one of the things in the equation was missing in their experience so far.

Immediately he said, “People — their team didn’t have the talent required to solve the problem correctly.”

From his perspective the agency was the problem. They didn’t have the talent to create the right solution. My goal at that point was to better understand if that was true, and if not, how we would make sure it didn’t happen again for this client when we got involved.

So, then, after a lot of dialogue, we uncovered that the project didn’t have a focused target audience defined. It didn’t include any competitive research or discussion about what type of messaging and design is successfully reaching that audience. The exec making the approval decision was doing so alone and wasn’t communicating directly with the agency. The target audience was never brought in to give feedback about any of the proofs at any stage. After failed attempts, the agency didn’t bring in new third party visual samples to help the client narrow in on and agree together as to what is currently reaching the target audience well. The design team was shooting in the dark, round after round, hoping to magically deliver what had yet to be clearly defined.

“The wrong mix of those 3 and you’ll be drowning in the sorrows of burned budgets and broken relationships.”


They also showed us some of the rejected work. It was actually decent from a pure design standpoint. Good use of color and type. Good composition and balance. A little generic, but overall not bad.

We also learned that the exec had been through a recent rebrand at his previous job and it went the same way — with a different agency going round after round, waiting for him to “know it when he saw it”. Eventually with that project, he gave up and reluctantly decided to go with the final mark. He said he later grew to like it a lot (after many others gave it positive feedback over time). The shock on the face of his weary marketing director after that statement told us a lot.

So now, I ask you, what was the problem? Was it Purpose, People, or Process? Or all of the above?

Clearly, there were holes in all three. The equation didn’t have the right inputs to create the right solution.

Our goal at Fastback is to work at your pace in the way that fits your timeline and delivers the momentum your project is aiming to achieve. To do that on a broad scale on many projects for many clients, time after time, takes more than talent alone. It takes a process that helps clients define the right fences for creatives to work within. It takes communication that keeps clients engaged and projects on track. It takes expertise to guide you to the right choices, and flexibility to collaborate to get it just right.

So scroll back up and read that equation again and ask yourself, “What is missing with my current agency?”

We would love to put the Good Work Equation to good use for you. Let’s discuss your next project soon.

Give us a call at 817-479-8510.