There comes a time when you need to choose the perfect branding agency for your business. Whether you’re an established business owner who needs a fresh rebrand, or a new startup seeking experts in strategy or marketing, finding a good fit is key for a successful branding project.
How can you find the agency you totally vibe with? By doing your research and asking the right questions, of course! Every agency has a different approach, process and set of values. That is what will make one of them more in line with your brand’s values.
As a branding and creative agency, we value transparency with our clients and making them feel involved at every stage of the process. There is no such thing as a silly question. Just because we know some jargon, it doesn’t mean that our clients know it too (72dpi, anyone?).
After researching agencies through online portfolios and social media channels, take a moment and gather your questions for when you first get in touch. More importantly, these are the most important questions you should ask before working with a branding agency:
1. What are our branding needs?
The importance of branding goes way beyond creating a great logo. In order for a branding project to be successful, you must know what your needs are and how they align with the company’s purpose, mission and vision.
Do you need to just tweak your logo a bit? Do you need a full 360 branding project (like the one we did for The Rec Room)? Or do you feel your branding has lost direction and you need a set of experts and strategists to help you out?
Having a clear vision and knowing your goal is crucial. Agencies are keen to help you with your challenge, so letting them know what it is that doesn’t work or feel right will help us bring the solutions you need. And if you don’t know what it is that doesn’t feel right, asking an agency to do a brand audit can be a great solution to get a new perspective on your existing brand presence. Spend some time reflecting and map out your pain points and start a conversation. Once you do-everything is possible!
2. Who is managing our project?
A good question to ask in the very beginning is about the point of contact within the agency. Who are you going to be talking to? Who is going to update you about the latest developments, facilitate, time-track and manage your project?
Smaller agencies with a few people tend to work quite closely on every project, while bigger agencies have a lot of different teams assigned to specific clients. For example, we at Made by Chapter are a small team, but we work with a large network of specialists that allow us to tailor the team to each unique project. However, that doesn’t mean you will be meeting all the talent we work with. That’s why it’s important for you to understand how the project will be managed and who you’ll be connected with. Get to know the agency’s project management system so that you know who you’ll rely on for questions, developments and updates throughout.
3. What does the design process look like?
Every agency has a different process and it is important to get to know how they operate. Besides knowing the person responsible for running the whole project, having the whole process laid out keeps everyone on the same page. Our c0-founder Gabriella at Made By Chapter touches on how communication and project management elevated the business
The agency will guide you through the different stages of their process. This includes who is responsible for what part, when the deadlines are, how feedback looks like and what the best method of communicating is.
It is in everyone’s best interest to be honest when talking about the process. Does the agency’s branding process fit well for your business? Are you unsure about some terminology? Are you worried about the deadlines or doubtful about what ‘’round of amends’’ exactly means? Or how many rounds you get?
Let the agency know about your questions or concerns! We are here not only to create the final product for you and your business but also to guide you through that journey while making sure it works for both parties.
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🧐 Ever seen branding as cute as this for a childrens soft-play and eatery brand? Probably not… until now! 🔑 It was so important to us that CayCubs brand stood out as a family-friendly space that delivered an immersive and interactive experience for the whole family (looking at you, parents!) 👩💻 Our team worked closely with CayCubs to create brand development complete with a logo, brand guidelines and the website which is set to launch in early 2021. From Tshirts, to face masks, coffee cups and crocs our design brought to life the core elements needed for launch. 👀 See more of the project on our website by tapping the link in bio!
4. What is the agency’s preferred way of communication?
There are a lot of platforms nowadays that work well for keeping in touch. Communication is vital when working on a branding project. All agencies have their own preferred way to keep their clients up to date.
With COVID now widespread, most agencies work from home and face-to-face meetings have been replaced with video calls. Here at Chapter, we use Google Docs for sharing content plans and strategies. Google Hangouts for an (almost!) face-to-face meeting experience, and Streamtime to help us keep track of our hours on projects.
We also use Asana to internally manage our projects while using Slack to stay connected as a team. We sometimes connect with our clients over Slack when it’s useful. We’re always curious about other new and existing platforms out there. So we continually research and test new platforms to see if it can improve communication with our clients and team.
5. What does the branding agency need from us?
If you provide your agency with your brand materials, you’ll earn extra brownie points. This includes logos (extra points for PNGs!), images in the high-resolution, font list, colour palettes and any other marketing assets.
When you share all existing brand assets, you make the lives of designers much easier. It also shows them that you are a proactive partner they can collaborate with to ensure the process is running smoothly. If you’re not sure what assets may be helpful for the project, just ask! We’d be happy to help send you a wish list of what we think we’ll need. There’s no such thing as too many assets to work with either, so don’t hold back!
‘’I love when clients are able to provide me with their existing assets as soon as possible because that means I can start working on the project. Also, a friendly reminder: properly naming your files is worth gold!’’ – Isabella, marketing designer at Made by Chapter
The more the agency can get to know you and your business, the better. We cover this in our blog piece How to Get Your Startup Business Idea Off the Ground. If you have a certain look and feel in your mind for your (re)brand, please share it! It can be a simple Pinterest board or some bits and bobs that you’ve seen and liked. It will help the agency understand where you are coming from but, most importantly, where you are headed.
6. What are some common project roadblocks that we may encounter?
Bad news: roadblocks happen. Good news: you are in the hands of experts in their field!
People working in agencies have spent years (and some of them decades!) working with clients and solving their specific problems. They are aware that there may be roadblocks, but they also know how to prevent (some) of them from happening in the first place.
Making sure the agency knows what your key deadlines are. Do this by making sure you have enough time for amendments and final approval processes will help you to stay on track.
If you have any concerns, it’s best not to sit on them. Make sure you flag anything that you feel unsure about so that the project doesn’t stray from the objective. Remember, people are behind a project so you should never feel alone and unable to communicate anything you need support with.
Further, a Scope of Works is not only key for both parties to agree on, but it also clarifies the project for everyone involved. It will manage expectations around project overview, deliverables, scope, schedule, and management. It may sound obvious, but if you see any missing details that you expected to be a part of the agency’s deliverable or process, make sure you ask about it.
Although the experience of working with an agency can differ from place to place, keeping these areas and questions in mind. When you do enquire into an a branding agency it will help your project fall into the right hands. We hope your journey has become a bit clearer, but if you’ve still got questions, feel free to get in touch with us today (no obligations!).
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