You have realised the need to increase your competitive edge through branding. You are now looking to enlist professional help.
Whether you are rebranding your existing venture or just about to start a new one, finding the right branding partner can be a real challenge. If you are completely new to the concept of branding you will certainly need some guiding thoughts, but even if you know someone who knows someone, the basic principles in this article can help you make the most of your contacts.
From budget creeping to creative differences, there are so many things that can hinder a branding project and there is nothing worse than a deal where you don’t get what you expect, so it’s best to make an informed decision at the start!
During your research you will come across a variety of fee structures. Some agencies will bill you by the hour or day, whereas others will give you a flat price. You probably want a combination of both. A flat price for a set of services with the number of rounds of amends agreed before the work begins will prevent the budget from dramatically increasing over the course of the project. An hourly rate for additional changes will ensure that even if you do need further amends, you won’t be paying through the nose. Your branding partner, meanwhile, can be confident that their time will be reimbursed appropriately and neither party wants the project to last longer than it should.
The actual price is usually negotiated after an initial consultation with the branding company. You’ll tell them what you think you need, then they’ll scope out the project and make their recommendations. Price is obviously an important consideration but it shouldn’t be the only thing that impacts your decision. Remember that costs alone do not determine whether you are getting a good deal. You should weigh up the pros and cons of the following points before deciding whether to partner with someone or not.
Our budgeting for branding guide is a good place to start for a better understanding of branding project costs.
Thorough research should be an integral part of any branding project, so there is no reason for a branding and design company to be limited to working within one or two industries. Let’s suppose someone has been churning out work for fashion brands for years. It will be a routine procedure for them to add the next project to their portfolio. Routine can provide a sense of security — they know what they’re doing because they’ve done it before — but it can also be detrimental to a creative endeavour. When creative minds are pushed out of their comfort zones, there is more opportunity for innovation to happen. Hiring someone adaptable with ideas and designs that inspire you has much more exciting potential then picking someone purely for their credentials.
The rule of thumb is that brands with global presence and huge marketing budgets try to match their size when selecting agencies to work with. Being under greater scrutiny due to their size, they are likely to invest more into their branding than brands with less exposure. Smaller brands tend to opt for smaller organisations or solo specialists. Although obvious, it can be overlooked that big agencies are organised into much smaller teams. The company’s overall size can create an illusion that lots of people will be involved in your project, but in reality you will only be working with a small team — the same as you would when partnering with a smaller company. Employees come and go more easily at bigger agencies, so it’s also more likely that you won’t be working with the people you have initially built rapport with a couple of years down the line. Small agencies can offer a little more security in that regard, and they can also afford to be more agile and fully focused on solving your problem.
More telling than the size of the branding company is how well they can adapt to your business needs. To nurture your brand you should be looking for people who can act as an extension of your team and deliver jobs in a timely manner.
Location is becoming less of a factor thanks to technology. Travelling is easier these days and you don't even need to physically share a space to work together effectively. Branding specialists can therefore partner with clients across countries and continents, and cross-culture creative collaborations have no boundaries.
A good branding and design company will immerse themselves in your world through their research, resulting in fresh perspectives and exciting project outcomes.
Even if all other ingredients are there for a potentially good collaboration, everything can fall apart if there is a lack of trust. If you want to create an inspired, thoughtful brand, you should probably avoid working with people who just want to sell to you. Instead, aim to build long-term business relationships with people who are invested in your success. Then, once you’re committed to working together, trust them to do their job.
Over the years we have learnt that only by having shared values and respecting each other’s work can business relationships be successful and long-lasting.
Our collection of 5 pitfalls of the branding process can help you maintain trust during your project.
Whoever you end up working with, the point of getting help with your branding is to bring in a fresh perspective — an outsider’s view of your business that will help you turn it in the right direction. If you are not ready to let go of your preconceptions and challenge the beliefs you hold about your business, then you are not ready to enlist a specialist for the job. However, if you are willing to leap out of your comfort zone and trust your new branding partner, branding your business together will be an exciting challenge!