At the core of every great company is a great brand. It’s the sum of your philosophy, essence and values – your ‘why’. Your brand drives your business, services and products, marketing strategy and your team. Brands convey uniform quality, credibility and experience.
Choosing the right branding agency means finding a partner that can solve your unique problems and execute those solutions.
Seems easy, right?
Branding is an investment, so making sure it’s done right the first time is key. This takes research and patience, but it’s worth it.
So, how do you choose the right branding agency?
1. Check out their portfolio
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to creative branding. But, there are a few things to consider before moving forward with an agency. One of the first things to look for is a diverse portfolio.
Their previous projects help set expectations, showcase their versatility and ability to maintain brand voice across multiple channels. When you consult with an agency, come prepared with questions!
Ask them about their:
- Metrics, analytics, ROI
- Creative perspective
- Market knowledge and research
With these answers, you have insight into what the agency finds most important when working with clients.
2. Book a consultation
First impressions matter. The initial phone call sets the tone for the rest of the agency-client relationship. The interview process will help both you and the agency better understand how the other one works.
If you’re a global brand that needs a comprehensive rebrand, you’ll probably need a bigger agency that has the resources to handle the scope of your project.
Smaller agencies can give more hands-on attention and expertise to small and medium-sized businesses.
During the interview, both you and the agency can establish your goals, timelines and deliverables. Every branding agency has its own process. So, come prepared with questions like:
- What services do you provide?
- How do you make brands stand out?
- What tools do you use?
- What happens if you miss a deadline?
- How would you help us reach our goals?
3. Set expectations
Behind every successful agency is a bunch of happy clients. After the contract is signed, the initial interactions are key. Make sure both you and the agency are clear on deadlines, what services you require and communicate weekly.
Every agency has to strike the perfect balance between not creating custom solutions for each person while also being flexible to accommodate different clients.
There’s nothing wrong with aiming high, but when both parties are unclear, goals and deliverables can become convoluted. This leads to disappointment on both sides. Here are a few things you can do to stay on track:
- Make a detailed plan with a specific timeline
- Ask for results & revisions
- Be clear about a shift in direction (e.g. colour palette, visuals, copywriting)
People are human and communication mistakes happen. To avoid slip ups, after each meeting, agencies should send out minutes or contact reports and if you don’t understand something, ask.
4. Walk through their creative process
Effective process boils down to research and evidence-based methodologies. A well thought out and articulate process is the mark of a capable agency. This ensures they deliver quality work that’s done on time.
When branding solutions are data-driven, it takes the guesswork out of the whole process. This will leave clients with authentic and compelling branding.
After the first phone call, many agencies will create a mood board and creative brief that includes a thesis outlining goals, photographs and visuals, typography and copy. From there, clients review and give their feedback.
The revision and feedback process is key for narrowing down the creative direction. If an agency doesn’t offer up details about their process, ask about it!
5. Align your values & culture
Ultimately, it comes down to chemistry. A branding agency is an extension of your team and it’s important you collaborate and communicate effectively.
Look for a branding agency that isn’t afraid to tell you hard truths but also excited to work with you. Their core vision, mission, and culture are good indicators of the type of relationship you can expect.
If you like their company, previous work and enjoyed the interview, then go for it!
The best thing you can do is look at multiple candidates and compare apples-to-apples.
Give each agency the scope of your project so you can get a sense of the different proposals, approaches and costs. Knowing what questions you need to ask will help you narrow down your search and find the right agency to answer your unique problems.
At the end of the day, it comes down to passion, chemistry and fit.