Should you hire a branding agency?
Hiring a branding agency is among those business decisions that you do not take lightly – because your brand is very important to determining the success of your enterprise. When you do it right, you increase the chances of sales success, but many business owners do not fully understand or appreciate the sentiment behind this investment, and so do not put much effort into growing it.
For many businesses, continuous investment into the brand is very important, as it determines how successful their business is. If you are the owner of a business, you may have considered them too, even though you may not be sure about the whole process.
Many also seem to presume they can handle it on their own, but that is not always the case. Sometimes you need a helping hand to step in, and that is where branding agencies come in, for instance. They need to help your business reduce its marketing expenditure through increasing awareness, giving a compelling message, and boosting overall engagement efforts. If the brand is not resonating with customers, then you will not succeed even if you use the largest marketing budget.
It is important to not rush into the decision of getting a branding agency though, so you need to ask some questions and answer them before choosing one. Here are some of them.
What is the image you want to put out to the public?
The simple definition of a brand is a symbol, name, design, term, or some other feature, which distinguishes a business or service from competitors. The customers and the public that see this brand will associate it with certain things, and it will influence whether they will buy from your business or not.
This does not simply involve your overall image, but it also incorporates other things such as communication, the image of the business itself, your products, what it is like to do business with you, follow-up services, and so on. In other words, it involves the whole experience that a consumer has when they engage with your business, and makes a difference whether they promote it or not.
Before you begin to outsource the branding service, you need to know where to start from, and know what your target audience wants. If you cannot answer this question, then consider doing a brand identity survey to help you have an idea of your audience, and give ideas on what to do to improve the branding.
What is the system you will use in branding?
The most important consideration to keep in mind when choosing a branding agency, aside from the needs of your customer base, is determining what the strategy of your branding efforts is, and then build on it.
To get this, you need to consider three factors: the perspective you are going for, the resources you have and will use, as well as consistency.
The perspective relates to the ability of your internal brand maker to get a useful and objective external point of view to build your brand attributes or assets. This means that if you are considering going for an internal team to handle the brand making efforts, they need to eliminate their own bias on the business, and use objective information that allows them to ‘think like a customer’.
As for resources, which ones are available to you? If the company is more of a DIY method, then you need to know the number of hours that will be dedicated to making the designs, marketing the business, and testing the reception of the brand to consumers. It takes skills and time to properly design a brand, so you need to get dedicated people who will handle it on a full time basis. When you deal with part-time employees on a job such as this, they may not do the best work in promoting your brand power, because it is not much of a priority to them.
Another part to consider is the consistence of the branding efforts. If your business has a high turnover of employees, the consistency in vision will not be there. This is because the work is being passed to different people all the time. The result is an inconsistent and incomplete focus on managing and developing your brand.
Is the current brand strategy working?
For you to establish this, you need to ask people about the brand, both consumers and the general audience. You can do this through tools like marketing surveys to find out what they think. Once you collect these responses, you need to set benchmarks in place that will track your progress with time.
Regardless of whether they are internal or external benchmarks, they must help you define the position of your company against competitors as well as defining the goals of the business. A good question would be asking if the customer would be willing to promote the brand to their friends and family. This is something called the Net Promoter Score – and this will help in defining the image of your brand.
In summary, make sure to find out whether customers are loyal to your current brand, the prominent brands that are in your industry, if people are aware of your brand, and what they think about it.
The advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing the process
When you have finished taking stock of the current brand standing of your business as well as conducting customer surveys, you also need to know the advantages of hiring a branding agency for your business.
Some of the advantages include freeing you from the obligation of creating the brand and marketing strategy, having professionals take over the brand management process, and bringing healthy perspectives to brand assets. The disadvantages would be that they are more expensive than the DIY option, results are not always a guarantee, and you do not have creative control over the process.
Branding agencies are actually good choice to have, especially when the branding effort of your business is a massive one. This is because it is worth spending money on your brand, and the long term results will likely be positive ones.