How To Hire A Branding Agency

According to one recent industry study of consumer behavior, 86% or respondents cited “authenticity” as one of their top factors in how they choose which brands they like and support. It has also been noted that brand recognition is increased by 80% when using a signature color, and brand consistency increases revenue for companies by about 33%. Hiring a professional branding agency or branding consultant can help a business in several ways, especially if the business does not yet have a brand symbol or image associated with the company. Hiring a branding professional is a convenient option when a business doesn’t have staff on hand with the time, resources, or knowledge needed to handle brand design, brand strategy and brand management. Companies may also benefit from an outside branding consultant if current branding strategies aren’t working or they need a second opinion from an external source. Here’s how to hire a branding agency for your business.

  1. Assess your business identity: what it is, what it means, and if it’s clearly defined.
  2. Decide what type of branding help you need.
  3. Start your search, and ask these important questions.
  4. Work with your branding agency to set clear objectives.
  5. Consider recruiting brand ambassadors to promote your brand.
  6. Understand the cost of your branding efforts and how to measure ROI.

Assess your business identity: what it is, what it means, and if it’s clearly defined.

To visualize and understand your company’s brand, which is the combination of the company name and identifying elements that customers use to recognize it, examine it as if you were an outsider. If you currently have a logo, look at that logo and how it may or may not inspire the emotional response you want your customers to have. Evaluate the colors used in your marketing materials and on the logo. Consider asking customers what they think of when interacting with your products. Similar to writing a business plan, it may be helpful to analyze your target market, company mission, and competitors. Specific steps to take include:

  • Identifying your target market – Know your target market and what inspires them to determine what they may want from your brand.
  • Preparing your company mission statement – Tell customers and stakeholders what your brand is about with a strong statement of your company’s intentions and aims.
  • Declaring your brand promise – Tell customers what your brand will deliver with each transaction and interaction.
  • Identifying what makes your product stand out from competitors’ products – Know your competitive advantage and how it benefits customers.
  • Creating a catchy and authentic tagline –  A catchy slogan that genuinely represents your company helps customers remember your brand when they’re ready to shop or take action.

Decide what type of branding services you need.

If you know you need help branding your business but aren’t sure where to start, there are several ways to narrow down your options. Three main areas of branding for a business owner to consider getting help with are brand design, brand strategy, and brand management.

  • Brand design services are best suited for companies that don’t have a solid identity. Brand design experts provide a company with marketing materials based on visuals that customers identify with a brand, such as logos and colors.
  • Brand strategy assistance guides corporate leaders through the process of examining their company from all angles to build a strategy that engages customers, inspires purchases, and encourages interaction with branded products and services.
  • Brand management is ideal when help is needed to manage all of a company’s marketing materials. This includes assistance with designing a logo that fits the brand, developing branding through email marketing messages, choosing billboard locations and designs, and publishing marketing materials, such as brochures.

A branding agency typically employs experts in all of these areas, and provides a one-stop shop for brand creation and management, as well as a la carte services.

Start your search, and ask these important questions.

When you’re looking for a creative agency to help your business with marketing efforts, company websites are a good place to begin your search. Look for examples of past projects the agency has prepared, as well as affiliations with major professional organizations in branding and design. Some questions to ask a branding agency before hiring include:

  1. Who will be working with my company, and what qualifications do they have as a creative and branding expert? (The answer may be one person or a team of experts depending on the size of the branding agency; either way, it’s important to know who will be handling your account.)
  2. Does your agency have a specialty, and what is it?
  3. Does your agency have experience with clients in my industry, and can I see examples of the work you’ve done in my field?
  4. Is your firm, or are any members of your staff, members of the American Branding Association, AIGA or the American Association of Advertising Agencies?
  5. Can I see your references and contact them?
  6. What should I expect when working with your agency?
  7. What can I expect in terms of ROI based on your past experiences?
  8. What is your hourly fee?
  9. What kind of reporting do you provide regarding my brand strategy success, and what is measured in the report?
  10. How long does it typically take to see results from your efforts?

Work with your branding agency to set clear objectives.

Establishing clear objectives when working with a branding agency is important because it helps you measure your investment return. Work with your creative agency to ensure their experts understand what you want and expect, and find out what they expect to achieve. This ensures that both parties are on the same page in terms of what key performance indicators they expect to see and what results they expect to provide. Some common measurements to explore in this sort of branding campaign include pre- and post-campaign surveys about your brand, customer interactions with your brand, repeat customers, and increased market share. Surveys let you know if customers are becoming more aware of your brand. A rise in customer interactions or repeat purchases will let you know when your branding efforts start to work, and an increase in market share also shows that your branding is effective.

Consider recruiting brand ambassadors to promote your brand.

Brand ambassadors are people who take a position in the marketplace as the face of your brand. You can look for brand ambassadors in several ways: as people of note in your community, celebrities, and people who have a social media following that’s likely to include people who will align with your brand. They may be people who already use and appreciate your product, or they may be people who share the experience of using it for the first time. Brand ambassadors may perform or pose in advertising messages. They may share social media posts, and they may interact with potential customers in public settings to promote your brand. They are useful for branding because potential customers typically enjoy associating a familiar face with a positive experience.

ExperTip: Make sure your brand ambassador plays by FTC rules. The commission requires anyone who endorses a product on social media to disclose clearly when they have a “material connection” with the product’s brand. The material connection can be a personal or employment relationship, or a financial relationship, meaning the brand is paying the social media “influencer,” aka brand ambassador, or providing that person with free or discounted products or services. While the onus of this disclosure is on the brand ambassador, if that person does not make the relationship clear, and is publicly cited for the violation, it can reflect poorly on the brand involved.

Understand the cost of your branding efforts and how to measure ROI.

Charges for creative and strategic branding services typically range from $100 to $350 per hour to engage a branding consultant, and $150 to $600 per hour to hire a multi-service branding agency. Average costs for common branding services are:

  • Basic company name, tagline and brand message:  $1,000 – $5,000
  • Market research: $1,000 – $7,000
  • Logo design: $2,500 – $8,000
  • More advanced or complex logo and visual identity design: $8,000 – $15,000 (smaller boutique firms and freelance brand consultants), $15,000-$75,000 (larger full-service firms)
  • Brand strategy and positioning: $5,000 – $20,000 (smaller boutique firms and freelance brand consultants), $30,000 – $80,000 (larger full-service firms)
  • Website design and development: $2,000 – $20,000 (smaller boutique firms and freelance brand consultants), $30,000 – $200,000 (larger full-service firms)

Whatever services you hire a branding agency to provide, expect the agency to report metrics that allow you to gauge your ROI. These may include:

  • Brand recognition
  • Brand recall
  • Website traffic
  • Community size
  • Perceived quality
  • Purchase intent
  • Leads
  • Sales conversions
  • Repeat purchase
  • Market share

Branding agencies will often partner with client companies to conduct research and analysis, to measure the effectiveness of brand design and management efforts, though it’s essential to understand that changes affected by brand strategy tend to take time to come to fruition.

Ready to speak to a branding expert? Here is our list of the best branding agencies near you.