I've often wondered how clients choose the design studio they end up working with. I thought about what types of things I would look for if I ever needed to hire a designer - here's the list I came up with. I'm hoping people can comment and add to this list.
1. look at a designers portfolio - see if you like the solutions they created for other clients
2. ask how the designer solved the problems represented by previous clients, you need a designer that can provide strategic solutions that will create a response in your target market
3. find out their area of specialty - logo, web, illustration etc.
4. meet with the designer - find out if they a) LISTEN and b) TAKE NOTES
5. find out their level of experience - 5 years in industry is a minimum (in my opinion)
6. does their personality mesh well with yours?
7. google them - find out what their presence is in the world of design
8. get their hourly rate and a ballpark quote for your job
9. cheapest is not always the best choice, make sure you weigh knowledge and portfolio work.
10. ask yourself if you trust them with your brand
11. make sure they respect you and that you respect them
12. look at their craftsmanship & artistic skills - the level of skill here can allow for more options in style and quality of finished work.