How to Find the Right Branding Agency

I’ve sat in a lot of meetings with potential clients who want to refresh their brand or logo but aren’t exactly sure what they need. So, a lot of them ask me if we can make them look cooler.

We all want to look cool. But, as a client, it’s helpful for you to know a little more about what goes into updating a brand, so you can find the right agency and get more out of the process.

Branding is more than a logo, brochure, website, or poster. It’s not just a clever giveaway or screen-printed t-shirt. Your brand can’t be captured on a piece of paper, and an Instagram page is not a brand.

It’s a set of expectations and associations that the public has about your company, and (luckily) you can join that conversation and tell the world what you’re all about.

And developing a brand strategy is a process, not an endpoint. A good branding agency will help you distill what makes your company different, figure out who your audience is, and come up with the best way to tell your story to that audience. The result is a clear company identity that guides your logo design and visual aesthetic, along with all of your brand communications, such as product packaging design, websites, marketing collateral, and custom merchandise.

If you’re interested in partnering with a branding agency, there are many questions to consider that will make you better prepared and help you get what you need. Here are a few of them to get you started:

1. “Do I know what our company does and why we’re special?”

This first question is directed at you, the potential client. If you don’t know the answer to this question, that’s a problem, and a branding project won’t solve it. We can help you refine your mission and vision, but we can’t make it up for you. (Well, we could…but it’s expensive, and it won’t be real.) If you’re prepared to answer this question (and explain it to us), the results will be better for it.

2. “What’s your process and methodology?”

Ask a prospective branding agency for details on each major step they recommend to get from the start to the end of a branding exploration. If they don’t have an answer to this, they probably don’t know how to lead you to success, and you won’t understand what’s happening along the way.

3. “What should I do?”

Ask for a recommendation. It’s our job to be creative all day, and this is your chance for free advice. Find out what the creative director’s gut response is, and see if it feels like it’s heading in the right direction. It probably won’t be spot on (these things take time), but you want to find out if you’re at least partly aligned on aesthetics and conceptual ideas.

4. “Who would I be working with and what will that be like?”

It’s important to know how a brand agency divvies up work to handle its projects. At Anthem Branding, an account manager and art director/designer are fully involved in every project, so the strategy and creative work are aligned from the start. Other shops delegate projects differently. There isn’t one perfect method, but some may work better for you than others.

5. “How much do you charge and how long will this take?”

This is a tricky question and most people are embarrassed to ask about it. Maybe you have some idea of budgets and timelines before you started talking to us. Or maybe you didn’t, because you knew you needed a refresh, but didn’t know what steps to take.

If you’re as upfront as possible when we talk about budgets, it will help us figure out exactly what we can offer you. As Jean-Michel, the founder of a development studio called Cortex, wrote:

“We have no interest in milking every dollar out of your pocket. In fact, all we want is your satisfaction and by that we mean making the most out of your budget, no matter how tremendous or not at all it may be.”

A successful branding project can have a powerful effect on a business, helping it find new customers and increase positive associations with existing and future customers.

We worked with Cultivate, a premium corporate gifts company in Boulder, to refresh their branding and identity. Their sales quadrupled (!) after we clearly identified the company’s target audience, refocused their message, refreshed the website, and modernized their logo. They already had a great product; we just helped them put their best foot forward.

Obviously, not every branding project can be that successful, but it shows that good branding can go a long way. Hopefully, with these questions in mind, you can figure out what you need to get out of a branding project, and who is best to work with you to accomplish that goal.