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Partnering, open communication, collaboration and celebrating success... sounds like advice for any perfect relationship.

Well, it is. Only, in this case, that relationship is with your design agency.

Building and maintaining a trusting relationship with your agency is key to project success. Many relationships with agencies fail because clients treat them like vendors instead of partners. They don't value agency advice when they really need to get a fresh perspective in solving a communication challenge.

You can learn that lesson the hard way—becoming battle scarred in the skirmishes with your design agency. Or you can follow these 10 golden rules—and find great teamwork and stronger results in the end.

To get great work from your design agency...

1. Build mutual respect

Treat your agency like a partner and value its perspective. Sometimes, you are so close to the project that you can't see how your own customers perceive it. Work as a team; it will make everyone's life more pleasant. Similar to any long-term relationship, it takes a lot of hard work and clear communication to make a strong relationship.

2. Define your goals

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Mary Enderle is a brand identity/Web design consultant for Enderle Group, a technology advisory firm.