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How to choose a branding agency

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For many businesses, choosing a branding agency might be one of the most profound decisions to consider. Not only will this agency help define how the world views your business but how it views itself. They will help transform your business into a brand and in doing so have a significant amount of power when it comes to your future direction.

It’s a decision that could have ramifications on your business for years and even decades to come but whether it’s planning a rebrand, reviewing your marketing strategy or creating a brand from the ground-up for a plucky young start-up, a strong relationship with an efficacious branding agency will help your business grow and thrive.

However, it’s not always immediately obvious who you should choose to partner with. They all promise to get the job done for you. So where should you start your search?

What is a branding agency?

A branding agency communicates your voice and your values in a way that is visually appealing. They create your presence in the marketplace by developing a brand that showcases your identity and influences consumers.

The best branding agencies create more than just a pretty logo or website. They establish how your customers, employees and other stakeholders perceive your position in the marketplace. They create how your unique corporate values and identity will be presented to the world.

Your branding is the sum of a consumer experience with your company, and a branding agency is responsible for conveying your brand story in a compelling and consistent way across multiple mediums. 

A branding agency can work tirelessly on a meaningful new logo one day, and then be writing copy that expresses your brand voice on your website the next. They could be strategizing a unique headline, or be designing a new trade show booth, ad campaign, brochure, or website— often all at the same time. Wherever your brand touches a consumer, a branding agency will be (or should be) involved. 

Why hire a branding agency?

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Of course, you can always take care of your branding in-house and save your precious pennies. But branding is such an important part of the process, particularly in the always-connected social media age, so it’s certainly not something you want s hold back on.

Hiring a branding agency is a significant investment. And the returns on that investment won’t be immediate. But it can still be a move worth making, even in the early days of your business, by offering: -

Expertise and efficiency

An agency can do things faster and more expertly than your in-house team, because they do it every day and have it down to a fine art. 

Market knowledge

Agency professionals have an incredible breadth of knowledge – they’ve met and worked with a wide range of businesses and have learned from all of them. They’ll have a balanced overview of what’s out there and what works best for different kinds of companies.

A fresh perspective

An outside party can recognize things about your business that nobody inside it can. They’ll have a clear view of your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, and their observations could positively impact your whole business strategy. 

And that’s just the basics. A professional branding agency will push you and your brand further than ever, and it should be well worth the (potentially) marginally higher fees than going with a different solution.

After all, your brand is ultimately the only tangible business asset you have that, if treated right, never depreciates and only appreciates in value. You’re also going to be reserving your in-house resources for the everyday tasks they do best. 

But while the decision to hire a branding agency might be a no-brainer, choosing the right one can be a daunting process.

Choosing the right branding agency

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There are several factors to consider when casting your net for a branding agency.

Lay the foundations

The first and most important condition for creating and maintaining a desirable brand image is, simply put, knowing what you want. This prerequisite may sound too obvious, but sometimes companies seem to forget about it. And if you’re completely clueless about what kind of brand identity you wish to establish, then the whole project is destined to fail miserably.

Naturally, the branding agency will help you with articulating all the tricky stuff, but you’ll have to have at least a basic idea about your core values, your brand mission, and a general direction in which you wish to develop your image. If you can’t define what you want and communicate it to the agency, then you’re very likely not to get it. Once you have that settled, the search can start.

Ask the right questions

When entering into any conversation about the potential of hiring a partner, here are the top questions you should ask, whether it’s a branding agency, creative agency, naming agency or marketing agency.

1. Has a previous client experienced any notable roadblocks, challenges, or triumphs that you can speak to? If so, what were they? What did you do?

2. What is your agency’s industry reputation? Why?

3. What makes you a good branding agency?

4. How do you differentiate your branding agency from other companies?

5. Why are brand identity and brand strategy essential elements to the success of a business?

6. Do you prefer working with new or existing brands?

7. Most agencies have an extensive portfolio of clients. Can you share some insight into your past clients and industry expertise?

8. What is your vetting process for bringing on a new company? How do you know if it will be a prosperous partnership?

With the answers to these questions in hand, you can choose a branding agency that makes sense for you and your brand. Different branding agencies will respond to these questions differently, potentially mentioning marketing strategy, clients, and why rebranding can spur new life, process, and services.

Proof of success

A branding agency should be more than happy to show off their success and elaborate on their expertise. Seek out measurable results like data metrics, analytics, and reports. Don’t forget to ask for case studies that detail the return on investment (ROI) a client experienced and the overall success of their branding campaign. 

Case studies also provide insight into what tactics the agency values most based on the metrics they measure. Eliminate branding agency candidates with past work that indicates a significant focus on metrics that are strategically irrelevant to your brand. 

Settle the cost upfront

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Depending on the marketing and branding services offered, your price tag may vary. It’s essential to be transparent upfront, explain your budget, and ask for an honest quote. Different branding agencies will have additional costs, so before you choose a branding agency, ensure you compare the pros and cons. Stay firm and realistic, and don’t be afraid to ask for a custom package with marketing and branding services that fit your business model best.

Most marketing and branding agencies are in the range of tens of thousands of dollars each month. There are also branding agencies just starting that may offer a more competitive price point for your business. Consider the benefits of hiring an agency with more experience versus an agency with less experience but more affordable options. While you may be firm in wanting to work with the best branding agencies, it may not always be the best option for your business.

Ask yourself if they’re a good fit

Before jumping on the phone with a branding company or marketing agency, consider the following preliminary components and essential traits. Creative agencies vary greatly, so use the following checklist to determine if they’re a good fit for your industry and brand and will provide the necessary attention and collaboration required to succeed with your target audience.

Most branding agencies have extensive experience in many different industries. Consider their portfolio, expertise, past clients, and examples of their work. Different agencies have other processes and procedures. Before you choose a branding agency, consider their specifics and what kind of guidance they offer through the branding process.

Check their portfolios

The best measure of an agency’s expertise, of course, is its portfolio. And knowing what to look for in that portfolio is important when trying to choose an agency. The most important thing to look for in a branding agency portfolio is objectively excellent work. Does the agency produce quality work regardless of industry? Do they have a track record of capturing the authentic spirit of the brands they work with? Does their portfolio represent a good range of creative styles?

The ability to consistently create quality work regardless of industry, resulting in authentic brands across a broad spectrum of styles is the mark of an agency that can confidently rebrand your company—no matter which vertical you’re in. Don’t be dissuaded just because an agency’s portfolio doesn’t include a brand experience that’s close to the one you’re envisioning. What’s important is their proven ability to solve the unique challenges of each of their former clients. If they’ve been able to do it in the past, they should be able to do so with your brand as well.

Look in the right places

Referrals by peers are a great way to find out a lot about an agency very quickly and gain some ‘insider’ information at the same time. Ask for concrete examples of what results the agency have achieved for your peer’s business and find out how they work day-to-day. Be sure to research each lead carefully though because the agency that’s right for your peer may not necessarily be the right fit for you.

Also, before you start listlessly Googling, look to the brands you admire and see what agencies worked on them. It’s true that bigger brands usually have the bigger budgets and can engage the largest agencies, but discovering great work doesn’t have to mean Coca Cola’s latest global campaign. If you’re still thinking of a pay off from a press ad you saw two months ago or even the creativity in a programme you saw in your local Arts Centre last week, find out which agency were responsible for the work and approach them with your own brief!

Using Creativepool

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Creativepool has hundreds of branding agencies ready and waiting to help bring your ideas and your brand to life.

Finding a web design agency that fits your needs on Creativepool is simple and effective.

You have 2 main options. Search and contact or post a studiobrief.

1. Search and Contact

The Creative Services Directory is the place for you to be able to search and select the company that best serves your needs. 

After using the search bar, you will be able to view the profiles, case studies and information about each company listed.

When you find a company then you can contact them directly. This is the most effective way for you to be in control of who you work with

2. Post a studiobrief

The second way that you can use Creativepool to find a company that meets your creative needs is to advertise your brief.

Doing so is completely free and to help you along you will be assigned an account manager. Once you have posted your initial brief, they will be in contact with you about what you are looking for and help you amend your brief (if needed) and send it out to the most relevant companies on the platform.

Once posted you will receive applications from companies directly and you can then discuss your needs with the company in more detail.

Posting a studiobrief is by far the easiest approach, free and you are under no obligation to hire any of the companies that apply. It's a flexible and powerful approach to finding a new agency partner that does most of the hard work for you.

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