When operating a business, there are plenty of things you should worry about as you lead it to growth, breaking even, and success. The result of this though is entrepreneurs or companies neglecting a very important aspect of that success: branding.
Even for big companies, branding is among the last things they think about when considering the marketing puzzle, and when they decide to put their resources into their brand, the field is usually a highly specialized one, which they cannot navigate very well. That makes choosing the correct branding agency very important, as they can help you address the urgent need of branding (like making logos), and they can also give you new insights into your business.
However, you need to consider some factors before you settle on one agency, so as to not make costly mistakes. Read on to find out some of the most important ones.
Are they making an effort to understand how your business operates?
This is actually the most important factor you need to consider when choosing a brand design agency. Regardless of the similarities between your business and other competitors, the dynamics are different for each – and what works for them may not work for your case. You want the branding agency to think of the businesses in the same way.
What happens is that most of them will come in showing examples of the stellar achievements they have made, while showcasing their most famous clients – all in an effort to woo you and influence you to take their side. Keep in mind that it is very easy for someone to talk about their successful ventures, rather than talking about the failures, so make an effort to look past the positive exterior and examine other aspects they have.
For instance, are they willing to listen to your input when it comes to understanding how your business works? Do they understand the market position your business occupies? Do they understand your objectives? If they are willing to modify their strategies based on your goals and unique positioning, then you can consider hiring them.
How creative are they in coming up with solutions and designs?
Branding is just like art – and there is a standard solution when it comes to good branding efforts, or any other work that requires creativity. The selection of an agency requires making sure they are willing to come up with effective solutions that assist your business to stand out from the competition, while also finding strengths and weaknesses with your position. They should also stay current and anticipate trends as they come.
The obvious thing is to study their portfolio and see the amazing work they have done with others, but you want your business to stand out too.
That being said, it is good you ask how different their approach is from the rest of the branding industry, and this will help you find out if they have the knowledge of marketing, design and branding trends. Even though the most creative work may not be a final solution, you want to make sure the agency you hire is capable of the best work they can deliver.
Their previous results
This is important to find out, as it will determine whether they can meet your objectives. Make sure to ask for objective measurements – these include reports, analytics, and metrics and so on. Even the so-called ROI (Return on Investment) is key to determining the best agency for you, even though it is an overused buzzword.
For cases like this, you can ask them to give you details about the ROI that previous clients got when they worked with them. For instance, when they worked with a certain client to rebrand their organization, did the market value and position of that client increase? Can they prove how this client improved, by using objective measurements like their sales numbers and profits?
All of these will help you make a decision, as it will give you insights on what the branding agency finds important.
How do they operate?
Just like you cannot start your business without setting a plan in place first, a branding agency cannot operate effectively without a plan of attack. Most agencies, if not all, will, therefore, follow a set processes during their projects – and many have trademarks for these processes.
When you are considering hiring one of them, look past the fancy keywords they may use to describe their plan of attack and make sure they explain to you clearly how they operate if they do not tell you about it. Many processes in branding will begin with creative briefs, so ask them to provide you with these briefs. Do not feel ashamed about asking them either – it is your money you are putting in to expand your business, so you have a right to know and understand what is going on.
Versatility is very important as well
Before hiring the services of a branding agency, it is important to understand the business issues you have, and this will help in setting realistic expectations in terms of the deliverables and services you require. The prospective agencies might have their own feedback using these points, but you are the business owner at the end of the day – only you can understand the issues in depth.
That helps in remembering that very few agencies will give you solutions to all your problems, as long as they are working on their own. They usually rely on freelancers to manage the projects of their biggest clients, and will rarely hire in-house staff (it is expensive on their end). In light of this, make sure to ask the agency what their ability in handling the project is, as well as the outsourcing they need to do for your project. The more they can use their internal resources, the better it is for them.
Making a choice on a branding agency is a time-consuming process, but once you make the right decision, you will likely not regret it. Make sure to ask all the right questions, ask for references, compare their portfolios, google them, and take your time in researching who they are.