Hiring a brand consultant – a match made in branding strategy heaven
Continuing on from an earlier post on tips for new business owners to consider in the path to building a strong brand for an established brand, the decision to rebrand should not be done on a whim nor taken lightly.
Choosing to revamp a brand simply because “it’s been 2years since we last revamped our image” is a clear recipe for disaster. At its core a brand serves as a collection of cues that convey the value proposition of a product or service to its target audiences, while differentiating itself from competitors. It takes a significant period of time to develop & nurture a brand that sits strong in the mind of the consumer unfortunately the reality is that one badly made decision can quickly undo months/years of hard work & sometimes even to the point of inciting client/consumer revolt. Think…Gap’s 2010 attempted logo rebrand, which elicited so much dislike (bordering on hate) from brand fans & industry watchers.
If you are looking to develop a long term integrated branding strategy then hiring a branding agency is a smart decision and worthy investment for your firm.
Ideally you want to work with a branding agency that works hard for you; coming on board as a partner committed to help you achieve a sustained and favourable position for your brand. Creating not just a couple of logo alternatives but a real messaging strategy: both internal (to win support from employees) and external (to make a clear impact in the market). Below is a basic checklist you can use to ensure that your relationship with your prospective brand agency is a match made in branding heaven:
- Articulate your needs – before you start looking for a prospective branding partner, ensure that there is an internal consensus on your requirements from a brand agency as well as your budget. Clarity here ensures that your first round of search yields relevant results.
- An agency’s portfolio – you want to work with an agency that is able to demonstrate its credibility & creativity through show of work done for past clients. Even better if the clients are from sectors related to yours.
- Get familiar with the actual servicing team – often most mid to large size branding agencies will have a separate business development team that will ‘wow’ you with their proposal but once the contract is signed you never see their faces again. Request that the actual execution team take part in early stages of your interaction with the agency this way you can use this time to gauge whether there is a good chemistry.
- Read between the lines – during talks with prospective agencies make note of whether the agency understands your requirements, paying particular attention to their ability to ask thoughtful questions and offer possible scenarios in terms of a strategy for your product or service.
- Take cues from first impressions – if you’re engaging your choice agencies via email, make note of how prompt they are in responding and their writing capabilities. Can you rely on an agency to develop messaging for your brand if they can’t spell check emails to you? Also it might be worthwhile requesting for a meeting at their premises so you can get a feel for the organisation culture. If the prospective agency’s office resembles more a call-center than a creativity hub then that’s food for thought.
- Stick with your gut – managers of smaller brands, who’ve never formally sought the consult of branding advisors, might feel obliged to agree with everything presented by ‘branding gurus’ with award-winning portfolios. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you feel that the final adopted brand strategy is authentic and mirrors the personality of your aspirant brand legacy.
- Shop around – the creative space in the UAE and wider Middle East is coming of age. More brands are shedding their inhibitions and seeking to refresh their old market images for fresh, upbeat & even ‘fusion’ identities that leverage the multicultural element of our region. Likewise there are many agencies that are hiring the best talent to meet this demand. In a future post we’ll detail the difference between a branding agency, advertising agency and broader marketing agency.
Remember that good chemistry in your relations with your branding agency, plus trust in their commitment to your brand and open communication make for a good foundation in the road to building a strong brand.
*Image source: Toandinh.com