Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why did the university contract with a group of creative agencies?

Over the past several years, the university has made operational excellence a priority. Operational excellence is about identifying areas to increase efficiency and effectiveness without compromising quality. It means the university must think differently about how it has historically conducted business and use data to drive decision-making. During the operational excellence review of communications and marketing practices universitywide, which was conducted by University Communications (UC), creative services was identified as an area with high potential for the optimization and modernization of business practices in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

A universitywide contract serves multiple purposes:

  • Ensures brand consistency: Assets associated with UB across all units will have a consistent and cohesive look that is aligned with the university’s branding.
  • Enables cost efficiencies: We are able to take advantage of scale when everyone is using the same group of agencies.
  • Saves time: Neither your unit nor the procurement office has to submit RFQs or RFPs for individual projects. Your unit can begin a project almost immediately.

Q2. What are the benefits of using these designated vendors?

  • Brand integration and consistency: UC is providing annual training to the vendors on UB’s overall identity and brand strategy, with detailed instruction on photography, graphical elements, typography, color, etc.
  • Time and cost efficiencies: Production can begin immediately upon submission of a short media brief (no RFQ is required).
  • Low contractual risk: Working directly with a select group of creative vendors who have agreed to the New York State terms and conditions limits the university’s exposure to risk.
  • Additional support. University Communications will be available to the contracted vendors as a resource. Please contact Becky Farnham,  Elena Conti-Blatto or Amy Cassidy.

Q3. Why was the decision made to select multiple agencies/vendors?

Many units across campus use outside vendors for creative services. Thus, it was deemed important to have a reasonably large selection to ensure timely service and appropriate attention to each unit. We also wanted to provide a range of vendors, from individual freelancers to full-service creative agencies—with expertise in a variety of areas—allowing each unit to find the best fit for their particular projects.

Q4. How long are these contracts in place?

Each of these contracts has a three-year term that commenced July 2020.

Q5. How do I start working with one of these vendors?

You begin by filling out a short creative brief. This will help the vendor understand your creative needs as well as the timing. The vendor will then schedule a kickoff meeting to review the brief with you and/or your team. (Please refer to the step-by-step procedures for more detailed information.)

Q6. Why is it necessary to fill out a creative brief? I always just call a vendor and discuss the project verbally – this seems like it will be time consuming.

The creative brief provides a clear outline of the project’s scope and helps the vendor understand all aspects of the project: the objective, target audience, voice and tone of the creative, along with deliverables and timeline. It puts everyone on the same page and makes the ensuing discussions more efficient and effective.

Q7. What types of costs/fees are associated with using these vendors?

  • The hourly rate is set for each of the vendors and ranges from $65 per hour to $150 per hour.
  • The costs will be fully transparent and outlined in the project estimate based on the approved (contractual) hourly rate and the anticipated number of hours for project completion.
  • Please contact University Communications if you have specific questions about contract rates and overall costs.

Q8. What if I’m already working with an agency for creative services? Can I continue to use this agency and not one of the eight that have been awarded contracts?

You may finish your current projects with your selected vendor. However, for future creative/design service projects you will need to work with one of the vendors awarded the contract. The exception would be for editorial services such as copywriting. You are not required to use these vendors for editorial services. Additionally, if you receive creative services from a freelancer who is a sole proprietor and they are paid via an honoraria, you may continue to use their services.

We have every confidence that the selected group of vendors will be able to get up to speed quickly and provide exceptional service to your unit. University Communications is available to help ensure a smooth transition from your current vendor to one of the selected vendors for this contract.

Q9. What if I am in a contract with another vendor? How do I start to work with one of these eight creative agencies?

If you are in a contract or formal agreement with another agency, vendor or freelancer, please contact University Communications and Procurement Services. Together, we will discuss how you can best transition while adhering to any current contractual obligations.

Q10. I get a special discounted rate with the creative vendors/freelancers I use because of our long-standing relationships. Why can’t I continue to contract with them for my creative needs?

Several factors were considered by the committee in the selection of these eight vendors, including not just price, but the quality of their work and their experience in higher education/non-profit. Additionally, the eight vendors are receiving annual training from University Communications to ensure brand compliance.

The pricing from our pool of eight vendors is very competitive; the range of hourly rates available is most likely in line with your discounted rate and may even be lower. Therefore, a transition to one of the eight vendors should not impact your project budget.

Finally, it is important that all of UB’s business operations are in alignment with SUNY and state ethical and procurement requirements. Leveraging these universitywide contracts ensures quality and business continuity.

Q11. I’ve contacted all eight vendors and none of them are able to complete my project. What do I do?

In the unlikely scenario that none of the eight vendors are able to complete your project, please contact University Communications and Procurement Services to discuss your options.

Q12. If I don’t have experience with any of these vendors, how do I know which vendor will be the best fit for my creative needs?

You may send your brief to several of the vendors to determine which one is the best choice for your project. You can then review the proposal each vendor presents in response to your brief and select the vendor that seems to best fit the needs of your project and the overall timeline.

Q13. What is not covered under these contracts?

The following services are not part of the creative service contract:

  • Print buying: Print buying and printer selection will be handled by your unit. However, the vendor may provide recommendations; given their experience they may know which printers are best suited to handle a certain technique.
  • Media buying: The university has a contracted agency that provides strategic planning, buying and monitoring of paid media. The creative service vendors will not be allowed to procure media for the university; however, they may be utilized to create assets that will be used in a promotional media campaign.
  • Web development/website creation: The university uses a content management system (UBCMS) and generally does not need these services. Should a special circumstance arise that requires the creation of a page or small site within the UBCMS, this facet of the project will be collaboratively negotiated with University Communications.
  • Photography: Image assets should ideally be obtained from the university’s photo database, from stock photography (when appropriate) or from your unit. Original photography is also a possibility, but discouraged if not necessary.
  • Videography services: Large, multiday video projects are not covered as part of this agreement.

Q14. We are working with one of the creative vendors. Can they hire a print vendor to produce the project for me?

No, the creative services contracts do not allow for print buying or other production costs. To select a print or production vendor, each unit is responsible for following all applicable procurement guidelines and policies. This includes competitive bidding requirements to ensure price reasonableness. Your creative services vendor may recommend print or production vendors to include in the bidding process. Contact Procurement if you have questions regarding contracting with print or production vendors.

Q15. Does the vendor have to buy the licenses for the brand typography?

No, University Communications has provided one license per vendor for the typeface families of Sofia Pro and More Pro, along with Freeland, for the term of this contract.

Q16. Which funding source can I use under this contract?

You can use state, Research Foundation (RF) or UBF funding sources.

Q17. Who was on the RFP committee responsible for the selection of these eight vendors?

Every effort was made to assemble a committee representing a cross section of the university. The eight committee members were:

  • Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences: David Anderson
  • School of Management: Jackie Ghosen
  • Enrollment Management and Educational Affairs: Dawn Reed
  • Student Life: John Lambert
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: Jane Stoyle Welch
  • Division of University Communications: Jeff Smith, Devon Jerla, Becky Farnham

Q18. I have more questions. Whom do I contact?

Please reach out to University Communications for any further questions.