Choosing the Right Branding Agency: The Complete Guide
In today’s fiercely competitive business landscape, it is more important now than ever to stand out against the competition. Branding is an essential aspect of your business as it is usually the first thing that potential clients judge you on.
A great brand should not only resonate with your audience but also be a reflection of who you are as a business.
Branding can make or break a business, so it is crucial to choose the right branding agency. Our comprehensive guide will show you everything you need to know about choosing the right branding agency for your business.
What is a branding agency?
A branding agency is a company that specializes in creating and managing a brand’s identity and image. They may provide services such as logo design, messaging development, marketing strategy, and more.
Why is branding important?
Branding enables businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors, communicate their values and mission to their target audience, and ultimately increase brand recognition and revenue.
Complete Guide to Choosing the Right Branding Agency
Now that we’ve defined what a branding agency is, and why it’s an extremely necessary part of any business today, let’s dive in. We will explore the most effective ways to choose the right one for your business.
1. Get Clear on Your Branding Needs
While a branding agency can create a unique identity that differentiates you from your competition, they will need a starting point.
No one knows your business better than you do! Branding agencies can do market research to understand your industry, but it’s essential to tell them yourself since you know it best.
By getting clear on your branding needs, you will be able to better communicate with a branding agency. This will help them to provide you with a proposal that actually covers the right services that align with your specific goals, not just a generic package.
Ask yourself these questions and send them out to your list of potential agencies:
- What is the reason you want a new/re-designed brand?
- What problem does your business solve for your clients?
- What is the message that you want to communicate through your brand?
- Who is your target audience? Who will be the ones buying your product or service?
- What is your branding budget?
- What are your branding goals? Short-term and long-term.
Having a list of brands that appeal to you will help the branding agency you select know what you are looking for. Keep a list of websites, social media pages, and overall designs that you like to show them what you are looking for.
2. Professional Agency or Freelancer?
There are many great freelancers out there who can do branding, but it can be tough for one person to do everything that is required by themselves. While they may be able to do it, you need to ask yourself if they can do it well.
A freelancer might have the knowledge, tools, and be a more budget-friendly option, but many companies have chosen this route only to get a certified branding agency to redo everything.
You get what you pay for when it comes to branding so why would you want to pay twice?
A branding agency that has experience and expertise in the industry is the way to go for building up a reputable brand. To select one, you could reach out to companies in your area whose branding appeals to you to ask them who did their branding.
Doing research on your own will take time but is also a critical step. You should look over the agency’s website and portfolio to see their work. Read reviews and testimonials to see if their clients are satisfied with the agency’s services.
3. Type of Agency
It can be incredibly overwhelming when you do a Google search only to see results for:
- Creative Agency
- Branding Agency
- Marketing Agency
- Digital Agency
- Brand Consultant
Not knowing what you need or who does what exactly can make someone want to just give up right then and there. It’s ok, though, take a breath and we will help you understand what to look for because many of them do in fact offer the same types of services.
It is important to comb through the websites to see what the companies do. Each one may have a team that can do everything you need, so the official title is not really all that important.
If you are looking for a brand redesign, a website, or a logo, just look through their portfolio and website to see if they provide those services. Even if they are not classified as a branding agency, they may very well still provide branding services.
4. The Team at the Agency
There are many moving parts required to design a brand and many important roles that come together to make it happen.
The agency you select should have a diverse group of people on their team, including:
- Brand Strategist
- Market Researcher
- Creative Director
- Graphic Designers
- Project Manager
Be on the lookout for a company that has been in business for at least 5 years. This will show they have a level of experience under their belt that newer agencies may not have yet.
Older, established agencies have usually ironed out the kinks and refined their processes so everything runs smoothly.
If you do find a newer agency that has a credible portfolio, don’t write them off! A newer agency does have some perks and may be a good fit for your business. They also might not be as busy as a bigger company and have more time and resources to dedicate to your account.
Some good questions to ask to gauge whether they know their stuff are:
- What issues or obstacles have you seen in the past and how did you fix them?
- What goals have past clients had and how did you help reach them?
- Do you have measurable results proving your past success?
Just like with freelancers, some agencies will be easier on the wallet than others. Pricing should not be the main factor when selecting a branding agency.
Remember, the price you pay is a reflection of the quality you can expect. Opting for branding agencies with cheap price tags may end up causing headaches down the road as they may deliver sub-optimal results.
Poor-quality branding can damage a company’s reputation and image, leading to greater costs to remedy the issue. It is important to remember that branding is an investment in your company’s overall image.
When interviewing potential branding agencies you should ask questions about payment schedules and revision costs upfront to avoid any surprises along the way.
Many contracts outline the number of revisions allowed before it is considered an additional expense. Keep this in mind when you set your branding budget.
Investing in a reputable and experienced branding agency can ensure that your company’s image is presented in the best possible light from the start, leading to a positive impact on your bottom line in the long run!
7. The Agency’s Creative Process
A process plan will typically include these phases:
- Research: The branding agency should gather information about your company, target audience, and competitors. They typically conduct a brand audit and analysis by interviewing key stakeholders within the company. This allows them to identify your unique selling proposition which they will then develop a brand strategy around.
- Strategy: Once the agency has all of the information from you, the Brand Strategist and Creative Director will bring the team together to develop a branding guide. This guide will outline your brand’s identity. It will include a color pallet, logo, fonts, tone of voice, and specific rules for when to use what.
- Execution: The team will get to work designing and creating all of the brand assets, based on the branding guide. Once complete, they will begin rollout and implement the strategy and assets across different platforms including your website, social media, and marketing materials. They may even have a launch party to present your new brand to the public.
8. Communication Process
Since the entire branding process may take several months, you will want to know how everything is coming along.
Communication is essential when working with a branding agency and they should have a clear communication process in place as well as be responsive to your needs.
Your agency should be providing you with their ideas along the way, updates throughout, and also listen to your feedback regarding what you like and do not like.
During the selection process, you can evaluate the agency’s communication skills by asking these questions:
- What is your process for communication and updates throughout the project?
- How often will we have meetings or check-ins?
- How do you handle feedback and revisions?
9. Tools, Technology, and Software
The technology that an agency uses is a crucial part of the selection process. They should have access to the latest technology and tools to show they are serious about delivering the highest quality products they can.
While you may not know what is great or not in the branding world, we do and here are some things to consider:
- Design Software: Your branding agency should be using only the best software such as Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, or Figma.
- Collaboration Tools: For a team to communicate efficiently with each other and their client, a collaboration tool is key. This allows them to share ideas and feedback easily, rather than trying to keep track of emails, DM’s, or notes written on paper; a collaboration tool will keep everything related to the project in one place. Trello, Asana, and Slack are a few of the collaboration tools out there.
- Project Management Software:
This is a must for a branding company! Project management software will allow them to track progress, manage deadlines, and ensure that the projected timeline and budget are being followed. Monday, Basecamp, and Wrike are a few of the popular project management platforms out there.
10. Narrow Down Your List
Once you pick a few agencies that have hit all of the checkboxes on our list, it may be tough to select THE ONE.
We recommend picking your top three and reaching out by email. Present them with a broad scope of what you are looking for and see how they respond.
You can get a lot of answers from how they answer this email! What is their tone like? How long did it take them to reply? Do they seem excited about your project? Did the email feel generic or like they were actually engaged? Was it a short email or a long, detailed one?
Since this will be your first impression of them, you can treat it like an interview. It is best to trust your gut and go with who feels right.
If you are having a hard time deciding, you could even reach out to their clients to see what it was like to work with the agency you are considering.
11. Compare the Quotes
After a few emails and maybe even a call or two, you will most likely be presented with a quote from each of your potentials. Compare the quotes and make a pros and cons list of each.
If they are mostly the same but there are features from one you would prefer but are leaning towards the other company, reach out to them. They may be happy to include it for you in the price.
After carefully evaluating the quotes and the bigger picture of the branding agency’s communication, resources, and tools, you should have enough information to pick the right branding agency for you.
Choosing a branding agency is no easy task, as it is an oversaturated market and you will find many companies offering branding services.
While it can be overwhelming, if you follow our guide step by step and cut out anyone who does not fit the bill, you will have an easier time when choosing the right branding agency for your company.
StackServe has a growing list of already vetted branding agencies from all over the world if you need a starting point! You can also use the location filter to find the top agencies in your region.
Investing in an agency that can provide you with exactly what you are looking for will be worth it in the long run. This is your business and getting your branding done right is definitely worth the money!