5 Steps to Creating an Awesome Design Agency Culture

Posted by
David Appleyard in Business category

Ben & Cat Photoshoot

Finding productivity advice online is easy. Just do a quick Google search for “productivity tips” and you’ll get over 38 million results with plenty of advice on how to improve the productivity of yourself and your company.

But, most of those articles and videos often miss out on the most important element of building a successful company: Keeping your employees happy.

If there’s only one thing you can do to drive your business to the top, make it your mission to keep your team happy. Because a healthy and a happy team that’s able to maintain a proper work-life balance will not only be more productive but will also be passionate about their work.

In order to keep your team happy, you need to develop a culture for your agency. A set of habits and customs mixed with your vision of the company to treat your employees better. Like how Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, won over his employees by offering a $70,000 minimum wage.

Of course, you don’t have to think that big. You can start small by following a few simple steps.

1. Hire The Right People

First, and the most important, step in building a company culture is finding the best and most suitable people for your agency team.

That doesn’t mean finding the most skilled and experienced people either. Sometimes, it’s not enough. Imagine hiring a highly intelligent and an experienced employee who doesn’t work well with the team. Then your whole team falls apart.

Your team needs to be compatible with each other to work efficiently and it’s your job to find the right people that fit in together as a team.

Integrity is more important than experience. Find people with a good attitude, people who are eager to learn new skills, and those who share your company values and passions.


2. Develop A Set of Company Values

Building a successful company is not always about the “hustle”. Working hard and doing everything you can to get to the top might work, but once you’re on the top, you should also be able to look back and be proud of your work.

This is why you need to create company values. Not just to keep your employees on the right path, but also to keep your company from going off the road. It’s the promise that you give to your clients and your team. Your agency’s definition of innovation, teamwork, and transparency.

Buffer is a great example you can find when it comes to building strong company values. The company has a very open-minded strategy for transparency. They’ve even built a dashboard that publicly share their salaries, revenue, and equity.

It’s a great strategy for sending a strong message about the company culture and building trust.

3. Live Those Values! Don’t Just Talk About Them.

There are more than few companies out there that brag about company culture and hang a list of company values all around the office printed on a silver plate. But, in reality, they don’t follow the values.

Reputation can’t be bought. It can only be earned. Living up to your company values is the only way you can win your client’s trust and appreciate your team’s hard work.

It’s the same reason why Theranos came under fire recently. A while back, the company went viral for their claims of innovative technologies and company values, but they couldn’t live up to it.

Apple made it their motto to “think different” and they did! That simple, yet powerful, slogan helped shape the entire company and helped them turn Apple into the most valuable company in the world.


Don’t create company values to brag, “just do it!”.

4. Conduct Regular Employee Surveys To Get Feedback

Employee surveys is not a fun subject to talk about, but it’s a necessary part of building a healthy company culture. You must get feedback from your employees to know them better and understand their needs.

This doesn’t have to be a serious FBI interrogation-style confrontation between you and the employee. Those strategies may have worked back in the 80’s. Today, there are tools you can use to take a more pleasant and a fun approach to getting employee feedback.


In this case, Know Your Company is a great service you can use. It’s not just a tool for conducting surveys, it’s a tool that your employees can use to share their ideas and how they feel about the company, in a more interactive way.

The app will also allow you to keep track of your employees, what they’re working on, and get feedback on the projects.

You can test drive Know Your Company app for free. Then it costs a one-time fee of $100 per employee.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Let People Go If They’re Not The Right Fit

You’re Fired! Some bosses make it seem easy to say those words to the face of an employee like emotionless robots, but it’s entirely different when you’re in charge of doing the firing.

It’s not easy to let go of someone who’s been working with you for a long time, especially if you’ve built a personal relationship with that employee. Then you end up giving them too many “last chances”.

But, like they say, it’s nothing personal, this is just business. Sometimes, you just have to weed out bad employees to maintain your business growth. Because all it takes is one horrible employee with a bad attitude to ruin your business.


Firing employees is not fun at all. But, if you be more careful when following the first step (hiring the right employees), you won’t have to deal with this last step.

Remember, when you build a company culture that appreciates your employees, they will start looking forward to the Mondays to get back to work instead of counting days toward the weekend. And you know what that means for your agency: Faster growth.

So, put your company values first, money later.

Headquartered in San Francisco, our team of 50+ are fully distributed across 17 countries.