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How to Choose a Branding Agency

Outline:

  • Clear Goals & Growth Focus
  • Capabilities: Experience & Expertise
  • Strategic Problem Solving
  • Portfolio: Creativity, Differentiation & Innovation
  • People: Personality Fit & Reputation
  • Business Insight & Curiosity 
  • Approach, Process & Timeline
  • Customer Service: Collaboration & Communication
  • Budget: Value & Pricing
  • X-Factor: Secret Sauce

Introduction

We are a brand and marketing agency that works with different types of long-established brands, but also with younger companies and sometimes startups as well—companies with innovative products, services, or unique takes on a tried and true business model. Creative agencies love the challenge of building impactful brands around new products or services in emerging markets.

People come to us as experts on their business, but sometimes they’re still relatively new to the process of brand development. We started this “Basics” series as a clearly articulated process to help get everyone up to speed, informed, and on an even playing field.

Choosing the perfect branding agency can often be a stressful and confusing process, and finding the particular type of agency that fits your goals can be a challenge. Choosing correctly is crucial for the success of your business. No pressure, right? Here are some aspects to consider, culled from our agency’s insights gained over twenty years of expertise in the branding industry.

Clear Goals & Growth Focus

What does success look like? Before searching for a good branding agency, make a list of potential goals to clarify what you want to achieve through their branding services and marketing strategies. 

Is your goal general brand awareness? Launching a new digital product? Expanding territories? Creating new brand strategy to reflect new values? Growing sales and scaling your business? 

Whether you’re a startup or an existing company repositioning your business, choosing the best branding agency is a matter of having clear goals. As you speak with potential partners, review the agency’s portfolio with a critical eye. Note if they’re focused on questions that aim to understand your goals and branding needs, and whether they offer the right branding strategies to achieve them.

Capabilities: Experience & Expertise

Choosing the right branding process for your business means searching for agencies with a strong track record of delivering successful branding projects. Consider their experience building strategy and visual identity for businesses of your size, with your target audience, and in your industry. 

Do they offer a tailored brand strategy? Consumer research? Do they have dedicated copywriters? It’s vital that your new brand agency’s services and capabilities fit your goals.

Not having past experience in your industry isn’t a deal-breaker if they are able to provide an approach, culture, and insights that resonate with your brand. Don’t forget that sometimes a partner who hasn’t built numerous brands in your sector can bring a new approach and fresh perspective.

Strategic Problem Solving

If you’re looking for a rock-solid brand strategy, the right branding agency will be able to show you how that foundation can guide every phase and element of your branding project. From logo design and packaging to brand story and taglines, a good brand agency is focused on solving business problems through design and messaging. Whether you’re a travel agency or an outdoor performance product, every decision should ladder back to brand strategy. 

Portfolio: Creativity, Differentiation & Innovation

Keeping strategy in mind, take a keen look into an agency’s work. Can you see clearly how strategic insight fueled a unique and ownable brand identity? 

Trends are fun in fashion, but when choosing a branding agency, look for work that will differentiate your business from the competition. You need help making your brand stand out, not blend into the pack. Does the work appear overly familiar? Do they understand the needs and nature of your new product? Finding the right branding agency means you look closely for innovation versus emulation, and a diversity of visual and verbal styles reflective of their clients.

People: Personality Fit & Reputation

Life is too short to work with assholes. Choosing the right branding agency is also about finding a creative process that is enlightening, empowering, and fun. 

How is the vibe with the people representing the agency? Do they seem like people you’d like to know better and spend time with? Do you feel energized by your interactions? Are they the right balance of professional, personable, and thoughtful? In short, are they a good fit with your team? Make sure you get a good gut feeling from the branding agency, and back it up with referrals or conversations with previous customers. 

Business Insight & Curiosity 

A successful brand (or rebrand) is built on a foundation of business evolution. By shifting your brand positioning, you have the potential to alter perceptions, reach new audiences, and attract different buyers. You need a brand agency that understands how your business works, or digs in to learn more. Are they naturally curious about your history, competition, distribution channels, digital marketing, and sales funnel? Find the right brand agency with a blend of insight and curiosity to grow your business. 

Approach, Process & Timeline

Every branding agency has its own step-by-step process for building a successful brand. What are the core tenets that drive their work to amplify your brand message? Get a clear, big picture of their process and results, and consider how their approach fits your goals. 

Don’t forget to ask questions—a good brand agency will be able to answer hard questions and explain why certain phases follow a defined process and take a specific amount of time. From market research and brand strategy to identity, packaging, and messaging, the right creative agency will develop a well-structured strategic plan to help you reap the benefits of your newly crafted brand identity.

Customer Service: Collaboration & Communication

Branding agencies vary widely in their approach to collaboration and their styles of communication. What are your expectations and preferences? Do you thrive being part of the process, with frequent updates and face-to-face meetings? Are you tight on bandwidth and less concerned with how the sausage is made? Share your desires for communication and collaboration, and select the right fit.

Budget: Value & Pricing

Good branding is not inexpensive. It represents a substantial investment over many, many years of your business. There are some things where you just shouldn’t skimp when it comes to investment: Both sushi and dentistry come to mind. As you consider a branding partner, there will always be a cheaper option out there. Be open about your budget, and a good brand agency will be honest about whether it’s the right time in the arc of your business to help you build a strong brand. It’s better to wait and pay for value than pay twice. 

X-Factor: Secret Sauce

Lastly, consider the unquantifiable aspects of a potential branding agency. Are they authentically passionate about what they do every day? Are they driven to help their clients surpass their goals? Are they a branding vendor, or a partner—do they seem invested for the long haul, or does the project feel transactional? Do they seem to have some magical “secret sauce” that sets them apart? The right branding agency will check these boxes and often offer other value-add aspects to your relationship.

We hope these pointers help in your search for the right brand agency. Still have questions? Give us a shout, and let us guide you to find the best fit for your goals. Each week, we donate a free hour of consultation to aspiring brand-builders, so sign up using our contact form!

Check out another recent article:

Like a day on the lake in a can on your lips. Now on Dieline! 

Why companies rebrand, and how to determine if it’s right for you.

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