Branding or rebranding your company takes a lot of time and money, and has to be done just right. That’s why choosing the right agency can be a daunting task. You want a branding partner who not only understands your industry but has the expertise to recognize your brand’s unique problems and solve them. Scroll down to see our recommendations for the leading branding agencies out there, as well as tips on how to choose the best partner to suit your needs.
Qualities to Look for in Brand Agencies
These days, competition is tough and even the most established brands find it difficult to stand out. That also includes companies that promote brands. It’s therefore quite hard to wade through the clutter and find a good fit with your firm. Read on for some characteristics to look for when choosing an agency to work with on your brand.
A Strong, Diverse Portfolio
Every branding design agency will claim to be the best of the best. But the proof is in the pudding, and in this case, it’s the company’s portfolio. It should be available on the website, with agencies looking to show off their best work online. In fact, not having an online portfolio could be a red flag, unless the agency has some sort of non-disclosure agreement with its clients. If it’s not on their website, ask for it. Refusal to showcase their past work is a cause for concern.
A portfolio should highlight the agency’s artistic and technical capabilities, its creativity and branding strategies. It should also include a variety of brands, showcasing different styles. Any firm claiming to be a top branding agency should also show its versatility across multiple channels and its ability to maintain a consistent brand voice across all online platforms, including the client website and social media accounts.
Reputation Is Key
Another important thing to consider before deciding on an agency is its reputation. Are they leaders in the industry or are they a boutique firm concentrating on a niche market? Your choice must be based on your needs and objectives. You must also find a reputable brand marketing agency that can use its expertise to turn your brand into one that is unique and authoritative but still aligns with your brand voice and message. Ideally, agencies should recognize all aspects of your brand and how they will perform across multiple channels.
An Established Branding Process
For a branding agency to be successful, it has to make use of proven, evidence-based methodologies in creativity and strategy to truly make your brand as distinctive as possible. To find a brand design company with a well-defined process, ask them how they can help make your brand stand out from the competition. Your branding partner should be able to talk you through their process, note where you failed in the past and advise on the inefficiencies in your current branding.
Creativity is a word that is often thrown around, but it is ultimately how an agency will truly make your brand stand out. You need professional and experienced branding consultants that are known for their out-of-the-box, fresh and original thinking and ideas. Consider whether the team follows the latest trends or sets their own trends. A brand that constantly follows the crowd will never stand out, so your agency should be willing to come up with unique and disruptive concepts that set the bar in your industry to new highs.
Exceptional Problem Solving
No campaign will go completely according to plan and there will be hiccups along the way. While this is the norm, the reaction of the agency to these issues is what sets the best branding companies apart from the rest. The ability to avoid problems is not the sign of a good agency, it is its ability to deal with problems in an effective and efficient manner. Your team should be able to recognize and address problems quickly so that it does not interfere with your campaign in a way that will cost you time and money.
Good, Transparent Pricing
You can’t put a price on a strong brand, but do know that these services are not cheap, especially if you decide to go with one of the top branding consulting firms. Because of this, you want an agency that gives you good value for the money you are spending. They must also be transparent with their billing practices. The agency should be upfront about their costs and what is included in certain packages, etc. You need to understand exactly what you are getting for what price. The best fees aren’t the lowest but rather, those that are comparable to other brand marketing agencies. If there is a major price difference, the outfit needs to provide clear reasoning behind its higher or lower costs.
Understanding Your Business
The best agency for your brand is one that invests in a long-term relationship. A firm that truly values its client will make an effort to understand your business inside and out to deliver the best results. They should be aware of your goals and align their brand strategy consulting and implementation processes with your brand values.
Regular, Fast Communication
Working with a branding agency is a partnership. And all good partnerships depend on open communication. Check to make sure that the company replies promptly to your queries, even if it is just an email asking to set up an initial consultation. If it takes a few days to get a response, then this is probably not the agency for you. Yes, everyone is busy, but an outfit that does not prioritize new clients does not deserve your business.
Tips for Choosing the Right Branding Firm for Your Project
Choosing the right agency will take a little bit of time, patience and diligence. But, we’re here to help. Read on to learn what to consider during the early stages of choosing a branding company.
Establish Your Goals
It is important to find a partner for your company branding that understands your brand and objectives. Define your goals to the team and find out what deliverables are in and out of scope. If you are clear about exactly what you need, the agency will be able to tell you whether it is feasible, based on their services and your budget. Once you have laid the groundwork and everyone is on the same page, you can start discussing the project in greater detail such as the logo, style guide, imagery, etc.
As we already mentioned, good communication is key when choosing a branding partner. To develop a strong and successful working relationship, brand management agencies must show they can communicate over the long-term. This can come in the form of regular updates, status calls, check-ins, and queries. All timelines, short term expectations, and deadlines, and long term goals should also be transparent and openly communicated.
Your agency must confirm that they can meet the required deadlines and speak up if there is a problem or delay on their side. The firm should, essentially, be seen as an extension of your team, so open communication is key. The best branding agencies take collaboration very seriously and enable regular, instructive and proactive communication.
Hiring a branding agency is a long-term union that requires long hours and in-depth work, so you want a partner that you feel a connection with. The agency’s core values, culture, and methodologies should align with yours, while you should connect with the team members who will be working with the most.
The best branding strategies are usually accompanied by collaborative, creative, inspiring and respectful relationships. The agency needs to genuinely enjoy and believe in your brand and that it can take it to the next level. Make sure that there is a sense of camaraderie, open communication and respect among team members and look for an agency that isn’t afraid to share the hard truths and acknowledge challenges but also gets excited about your brand’s success.
When deciding on branding agency services, think about whether you need a locally-based company or if you’re happy with a firm located further away. While you may think that face-to-face meetings and communication are a must, thanks to modern technology, there are ways to stay in touch without being in the same location. Don’t let geography limit your choices. If you have found the perfect fit in a different city or even country, consider the communication options at your disposal.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating Branding Agencies
Knowing the right questions to ask can make the process of choosing a branding agency a lot easier and help you find the right partner for your brand’s needs. Here are some questions you should consider while on the hunt for a branding partner.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
What are your brand-specific goals and how do you expect your branding will support your business goals? Are you looking to increase brand awareness with the best brand design? Do you want to establish a strong identity in a saturated marketplace? Is your rebranded goal to take your business to its next phase? Do you simply want to update your brand to keep up with the times? Can branding achieve all these things or do you need to consider additional marketing efforts? Identifying a focus can help you choose the best branding agency for the job.
What’s Your First Impression?
As the saying goes, first impressions last and the branding industry is no exception. You can learn a lot about an agency through your first impression. Does it seem like it has a passion for service and dedication to quality? How do they engage with you during the early stages of your relationship? Do you get a good feeling and is there a connection? Are there any triggers or red flags you come across in your initial interaction? Do they seem excited about a collaborative branding relationship with you or do you feel like you will be just another client? What kind of questions do they ask?
Do they communicate in a respectful and time-conscious way? Finding the right partner to rebrand your business is a lot like finding a romantic partner. If anything is awkward or uncomfortable in your communication, this could translate into the work produced. On the flip side, a partnership that is committed and compatible will bring incredible results.
Do They Have the Right Expertise?
Expertise in your industry is important when choosing a branding agency. Most marketing and branding companies offer varied and similar services when it comes to branding, but expertise in a particular field is what can help you decide on the right fit for your brand. Has the agency worked with brands similar to yours and what were the results?
Do they offer services above and beyond the regular? Does their work impress you? Without experience behind their name, a branding agency won’t be able to really understand the nuances of your company brand identity regardless of their capabilities and skills. While services are based on what the company offers, expertise is the ability to solve your brand’s unique problems with custom solutions.
Questions to Ask the Branding Companies You Consider Hiring
Once you’ve looked at what the branding agency has to offer from an outsider’s point of view, it’s time to put them in the hot seat. When meeting with the branding agency, ask these questions:
What Kind of Agency Are You?
While this could be a broad question, there are hundreds of different agencies that all offer a variety of services and packages, etc. This question allows the company to explain in their own words what makes them stand out from the crowd, how they classify themselves and what their unique capabilities and skills are. This information can help you determine whether the brand strategy agency is well-suited to your project or you will be better off looking elsewhere.
Why Do You Want to Work With My Brand?
With this question, you can determine whether the agency has a firm grasp of your industry and understands your brand. This is important, since if, for example, specialized healthcare branding agencies won’t be a good fit for retail and vice versa.
Before the initial interview, the company would have had time to research your brand and put together a proposal. If the agency is well-versed in your industry, they should be able to understand the market and where your brand fits in. If the answer is too generic, the company may not be as experienced with your industry as you would like and you may want to consider crossing it off your list.
How Do You Help Brands Stand Out?
The top brand strategy firms should have the experience, and with experience comes a long list of past clients. Ask about how they have proven themselves in the past, how they have made other brands stand out and how they plan on differentiating your brand from the pack. If you get thoughtful, creative and enthusiastic feedback, you’re on the right path.
How Many People Will Be Working On My Project?
Find out the number of people dedicated to your project, who they are and their contact details. The top branding agencies would give you the right contact for the right query to prevent delays going forward. Get a list of all the team members responsible for various processes so you know whom to contact for updates, queries, and problems. You also want to know that you have a full team of experts dedicated to your project and not just one or two individuals based on the scope of work.
What Kind of ROI Can I Expect?
While specific numbers and figures should not be promised, it is always a good idea to find out what you can expect in terms of ROI. Your return on investment mostly depends on your goals, which should be determined with your branding or rebranding consultants, with analyses and estimates to make sure you accomplish them. The agency can give you a ballpark estimate, based on research and calculations, or provide examples of past clients who received outstanding results.
Can You Take Me Through Your Strategic Process?
Find out about the outfit’s creative process and how it will be used to help your brand. Is there anything unique about their processes? Good branding firms will be able to confidently walk you through their processes and if you’re happy with what you hear, the agency may be a good fit.
What Do You Offer Beyond Branding?
Yes, you want to brand, but does the agency offer any other marketing services? Do you want a full-service agency with an array of services, from branding down to web design, or do you want small branding agencies focussing on one powerful skill or service? What type of agency you go for will ultimately depend on your needs, but it will be good to know that an agency has a wider set of capabilities outside of just branding.
Choosing a branding agency is no small feat. The most important advice would be to interview multiple candidates, make comparisons, make a shortlist and then take the time to over proposals, approaches, and costs.
FAQs About Branding Agencies
What does a branding company do?
Most agencies offer a host of specialist services to help clients create, develop, maintain or improve their brand identity. Agencies will work with clients to identify your goals and work towards developing and implementing the strategy and design aspects of the project.
Why do companies need branding agencies?
A branding agency can not only help establish or re-establish a brand, but many offer additional services like web design and advertising. The main goal of a branding agency is to help businesses identify their brand message and increase their brand presence through various design, marketing and advertising efforts. A great reputation takes work, and a branding agency can get you closer to achieving a solid brand and market share in the industry.
How much does branding cost?
This can vary from one agency to another, but most branding companies tend to charge anywhere from $150 to $300 per hour for their creative and strategic services. A typical branding package should include a number of services, from logo design and color palette, to brand positioning and messaging. That said, brand packages are mostly unlimited and can be customized to suit your needs.
How long does branding or rebranding take?
While every business has different needs, basic branding services like logo design and creating your visual identity can take anywhere from four to six weeks for branding agencies to complete. Website design and development can take anywhere from two to five months, while larger projects can take up to eight months to complete.