When it comes to branding, many business owners and marketers feel overwhelmed. There are so many options and services available, it can be difficult to know where to start. A branding agency can help take the guesswork out of the process and create a cohesive branding strategy for your company. But how do you choose the right one?
When it comes to branding, businesses need to make sure that they are creating a consistent image across all platforms. This includes both digital and traditional marketing channels, as well as the company’s website, social media profiles, and even its physical location, if it has one.
With branding being the primary way that businesses are distinguished from each other, it is important to make sure that your company has a strong brand identity. How do you know if your branding is effective? What should you look for in a branding agency? It can be difficult to find an agency that offers comprehensive services, but there are some basics you should look for before making your decision.
Different agencies have different approaches, so ask yourself what kind of branding would benefit your business the most. Additionally, understand that branding is not something that can be done in one day or overnight; it takes time and consistency to create an effective brand. This is why choosing a branding agency is not something you should rush into. It’s worth taking some time to do your research before making your decision.
There are several things to consider when searching for a branding agency. You want to make sure you find an agency that aligns with both your company’s mission and values as well as your customer base’s needs.
First, let’s look at why you should invest in branding.
Branding is one of the most important investments a company can make. It can be the difference between success and failure. Why? Well, because:
- A strong brand can help you attract new customers
- A well-defined brand can help you build customer loyalty
- A strong brand can help you command a premium price for your products or services
- Branding can help you differentiate your company from the competition
- Branding helps create an emotional connection with customers. A strong brand can help build and maintain a company’s reputation
Now that we understand how important branding is, let’s look at some pointers on choosing the right branding agency.
How to find the right branding agency
Here are some things you should consider before making a decision:
- Are you doing a rebrand or a brand identity for a new brand
The branding agency should have a different approach depending on whether they’re refreshing the brand or building a new brand. It’s perfectly normal to keep the main branding assets (e.g. logo and colours), but have a completely new look & feel. Ask for examples of projects that had similar needs as yours.
- Check previous work
It goes without saying that unless you’re going for a very budget solution and you’re willing to take the risk and work with a more junior designer, the branding agency or studio should be able to show you examples of previous work from start to finish. Most branding agencies would also have a deck explaining the process and showing you the deliverables from previous projects. Not all of their work would be public, this is normal due to the NDAs, but they should be able to email you a few projects they’re allowed to share.
- Check for online reviews or ask for recommendations
Ideally, you should be able to check online reviews from previous clients on popular platforms, such as Google Reviews or Clutch. If nothing is available publicly, it would be perfectly normal to ask for references.
- Do they have a strong brand?
A branding agency without a brand is a bit like buying from a butcher who’s vegetarian. It’s not impossible for them to build an amazing brand for their clients, but if they don’t do what they preach, it makes it difficult to trust them. They should be known in the industry and be able to make waves with their own content and assets.
- What’s their style?
Are they more corporate and professional? Or are they on the quirky fun side? Again – it’s not impossible to work with someone who has little to do with your desired visual style, but their previous work and their own brand identity and personality speak volumes for what they’re good at. Ideally, you should find a partner that you immediately click with and you love their previous work.
- Would you require custom illustrations or photography
A reputable branding agency will have illustrators in-house and would also work with a pool of talented independent illustrators. It’s impossible to have all visual styles as part of the core team, but a good branding agency would be able to produce this for you. Stay away from agencies that are limited to one style only. This could be sensed if their previous projects feel too similar or they prefer to avoid adding illustrations to your brand identity.
- Ask for their process
Every professional branding agency should have a process that could be shared with potential clients if needed. Branding is a creative, not chaotic process, so not having a well-defined framework for how they deliver projects is a red flag. Timeline, workshops, meetings, deliverables per each stage must be clear before you sign the agreement.
- Are you looking for design only (Visiual Identity) or a complete Brand Strategy?
This is of huge importance. So what’s the difference? – The design assets (logo, colours, typography, illustrations, collateral, brand guidelines doc, etc) are the final part, the deliverables of the branding process. Before you create those you should create the Brand Strategy that includes things such as a brand positioning statement, tone of voice, brand personality, vision, and values. The Visual Identity steps on the Branding Strategy. If you’re looking for a budget solution, you can create this internally and give them to the design agency to work with, but ideally, you should work with a design partner who’s able to build your full Brand Identity. This is the difference between beautiful and outstanding branding. With the former – you have visual consistency, which is great, but with the latter – you have a complete brand identity that would enrich your company and potentially create positive brand equity. How do you know if the agency offers this? Ask if they have a brand strategist and if they work with content people/verbal strategists.
- Don’t forget the content
Nothing ruins a brand new visual identity as bad copy. If you don’t have a copywriter internally, check if the agency can offer professional copywriting services that would bring the new tone of voice to life.
- Who’s building your website, as well?
If you use a branding agency to create just the branding assets for you but they don’t build your website, this is a bit like buying the best tiles, bathtub, shower, and accessories for your new bathroom, but don’t hire professional fitters to install them. The secret to having an outstanding brand identity is in the way the branding assets are used and applied on your marketing website and materials. Unless you have a talented designer on the team, who can follow the brand guidelines from the branding agency, do not start the branding process if you’re not sure how you’ll build the website. It might be a waste of money.
If you’re looking to hire a branding agency for your project, check out some of our latest branding projects for inspiration.