If a brand strategy agency can't bring clarity and personality to their own brand, they won't be able to do it for yours.

Choosing a Branding Agency

It’s no longer good enough to just deliver a good product or service; we need to influence the way people feel about it too.

Consumers are inundated with options. Their senses are overloaded by competing demands for their attention. And as they begin tuning out the continuous onslaught of marketing messages, businesses with strong brands that eliminate the noise, focus the message, and make an emotional connection with their target market will pull even further ahead.

Choosing your branding agency is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You’ll figure out who you are, what you stand for, how you want to be understood by others, and inevitably what your intention is. It’s heavy stuff, so it’s important to make a good choice up front. Here are some things to consider when you’re ready to shop for a brand strategy.

Start well in advance of your deadline

You aren’t going to the market to buy a banana; you’re looking for a brand strategy agency that may change the way you do business forever. Leave ample time to research and compare, formulate expectations, and identify must-haves and can-go-withouts. A longer lead time will allow you to make a more accurate decision and give you a better chance of finding exactly what you need.

Look for a clear set of values

If a brand strategy agency can’t bring clarity and personality to their own brand, they won’t be able to do it for yours. Creating the connection between a strong brand and the consumer comes from being able to make things human. When your potential vendor doesn’t come across as natural, its work is going to come across as formulaic, derivative, and uninspired.

Look for critical thinking, not platitudes

You’re looking for a brand strategist with more expertise than you—that’s why you’re hiring them. You should be receiving critical feedback and not paltry positive affirmations. While letting a brand strategy agency run wild and unabated won’t usually work, a real strategist may challenge or expand on your views and ideas.

Make sure the deliverables are real

Branding can be an ethereal subject. Very often, the intellectual, academic work employed in building a brand can evaporate because the people who sat around the table couldn’t translate the work into actionable tasks. You’ll need an agency that can do the ethereal thinking, ideation, and positioning while also finding a way to make it digestible and actionable. Try asking them what their integration plan is so you know they’re not going to leave you clutching an invoice and a Word document that makes little sense. Branding agency vancouver.

Get a proposal

It may seem like common sense, but it’s worth mentioning. Don’t be afraid to present them with an RFP (request for proposal). It’s a good habit for medium-sized or larger organizations to actively provide vendors with an RFP. Be specific with your needs and include key objectives, goals, financial requirements, a target audience, a list of deliverables, timing requirements, and anything else that matters. Expect an experienced brand strategy agency to be able to take this document and come back with a customized pitch that meets your criteria, expectations, and resource allocation capability.

Know what to compare and where to start

Know what types of brand strategy agencies exist and what their differences are before you begin the search. For example, fully contained agencies tend to have stronger interdepartmental communication, but agencies built on partnerships can be more cost-effective, creative, and nimble. Don’t get caught up in big, famous brand names if they aren’t in line with your needs. Remember that a brand strategy agency is different from a creative department, and be wary of a brand strategy agency that concentrates too heavily on graphic design, as they should be focused on the overall vision and positioning. Graphics come later. Branding agency Vancouver.

If none of that sounds appealing, consider hiring a freelance strategist to help you write the RFP and interview candidates. It may be the best few grand you spend this year.