You’re looking to hire a branding agency. You understand that good branding is important for good business, but also that the decision to entrust your brand or campaign to the expertise of another team is one that needs proper consideration.
Outsourcing design through a trusted creative agency or studio is a great way to gain some fresh perspective. Plus, you get access to years of collective experience.
It’s a big commitment, so of course you want to take your time finding the partnership that best suits the needs of your business. But it can be daunting trying to figure out how best to approach it. If you could do with a helping hand here, read on.
Do I need a branding agency?
If it’s a full rebrand you’re considering, we’ve got a useful blog post on how to know whether your business is ready for a rebrand that you can check out here.
But in general, companies tend to seek out branding agencies for these reasons:
- Scale: You’re looking for a level of marketing that’s integrated with other channels, or your staff can’t keep up with the workload.
- Expansion: You know it’s time to reach a broader audience.
- Perspective: You’re so close to a product that you can’t see what the outside world sees.
- Clarity: You don’t know how to clearly and quickly explain your story in a compelling way to your audience.
- Expertise: Especially with rapidly evolving technology, it’s nearly impossible for any single company to have all the specialised skill sets in house.
A helpful question to ask yourself is this:
Do I have a clear objective, or do I need help defining one?
Here at Pithy Studios, we’ve found that clients tend to come to us from one of two routes.
They already have a clear idea of their strategy – usually a rebrand – or have already been to a brand consultant. They know their:
- Target market
- Tone of voice
- Brand values and brand promise
- Avenues for marketing and how the product or service will be sold (providing an insight as to where and how your branding will appear)
- SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
- Preferred visual styling
- Timeline for project
- The budget they can operate within
- Brand positioning
- Why they exist
- Some sort of vision or mission statement
They don’t have the above, but they have the time to complete this with the agency’s help and can allocate one decision maker in their company who is able to make the final call. They’re ready to dedicate the time needed to complete the initial discovery. They have a budget and timeline in mind.
So, hopefully by now you’re developing some idea of where your business sits in the pre-hiring stages. All this will help you narrow down the kind of agency you’re looking for.
Where do I find a branding agency?
Other than word of mouth, the main places to search for an agency would be online directories and review sites, search engines, and social media. Once you’ve whittled down your list to a couple of options, it can help just to get on the phone or video call and speak with a human on their team.
You’ll also want to think about choosing the right size agency to fit your needs. Larger agencies can often provide a plethora of services, while smaller agencies tend to specialise. It’ll all depend on the scope of your project and of course, the budget.
The advantages of opting for the smaller agency are that you get to deal directly with the people that build the brand for you; there are no middle people so nothing gets lost in translation; and thanks to all this the turnaround time is much quicker.
How should I approach a branding agency?
Now let’s take a look at some things to consider before you hire.
Ask what you’ll be expected to be able to provide – depending on your stage of growth, this could include anything from digital assets like vector files of your branding elements and photography, to everything listed above under ‘route one’.
Help them help you – the more detail you can provide about the scope of the project, the better the quality of response you’ll receive.
Get clear on expectations and express your concerns – what worries you about hiring a creative agency? Let them know, and give them a chance to alleviate those concerns.
How will you communicate, and who’s the point person? Remote agencies may invite you to communicate with them over online platforms like Trello, Slack or Discord, and conduct online meetings through Google Meet or Zoom.
Do they have a good reputation? Check out their reviews and speak with past clients if you can.
What does their process entail? Every agency will do things slightly differently, so getting an early understanding of their process will help manage expectations.
Who will be working on the project? If your point of contact isn’t also your main designer, ask who is, and how many people will be involved.
What exactly will you be getting – Clarify the format of final deliverables and what the finished work will include.
Who owns the work? It’s worth getting an understanding of image and font copyright – will you be happy to budget for font or photography licences?
How else can I prepare?
Of course, it would be wise to factor in these preventable but common causes of delays on either side: slow communication, unclear objectives, indecisiveness, and clashing priorities.
It’s always a good idea to speak with the agency and gather their thoughts on your project, as while you may think a new logo will help shift the needle it may in fact just be a packaging redesign or something similar that will help you stand out.
Finally, take a moment to reflect on your attitudes going into this process. Is the primary objective front and centre? A common mistake clients can make is applying their personal take to the project as opposed to thinking of their target market, or asking the opinion of their mate down the road who isn’t their target audience. The focus of branding must always be on your target audience and how they will perceive your brand.
Remember, it’s a partnership
A good agency will have the best interests of your business at heart, and be able to guide you smoothly through the process and keep you informed along the way. As with all relationships, trust and clear communication are the keys to an effective partnership.
If you’re ready to have a conversation about your project with a trustworthy, no-fluff branding agency, we’d love to hear from you. We’re proud to have a tally of happy clients, but you don’t have to take our word for it – check out what our past clients have said in our reviews.
Well, we hope this article has helped demystify how to approach hiring a branding agency and spurred you onwards to finding success. But if there’s anything we haven’t covered, or your mind is just flooding with questions, why not shoot us a message using this contact form? We’d be happy to offer some advice to help you get going in the right direction.