If you are in the early stages of getting a business off the ground, you might cover every role your business requires, even the less-than-glamorous ones.
One moment you are the CEO, next thing you know you’re changing the ink in your office printer, managing calls, marketing, taking out the recycling, and on and on.
This is pretty typical, since most new business owners feel they should save as much money as possible by doing everything themselves, or engaging an intern or family member to help out.
It’s also a good way to figure out what it is your business really needs as it is launching.
But sooner or later, the time comes when you must take your business seriously, and it makes sense to hire people who can fill these many roles better than you can, so that you can focus on the most important task, which is running your business.
As you progress as an entrepreneur and your business grows, you may benefit from outsourcing your branding to an agency.
But hiring a branding agency can be a particularly daunting task.
If you are a business owner who has been in control of your brand since day one, hiring an agency to take over can feel a bit like “giving up your baby.”
Don’t worry, it is normal to feel this way. Handing over your brand to an agency isn’t like delegating your bookkeeping or administrative tasks.
The success or failure of your business hinges on your branding. When you pick a branding agency, you might feel like you are putting your reputation in someone else’s hands.
This approach can feel a bit paralyzing, so try to not think of hiring a branding agency as handing over control – instead, look at it as though you are expanding your team.
Your agency works with you and collaborates with you. They don’t just create branded communications on behalf of your company, they also adhere to and deeply connect to your brand values, who you are, and who your clients are.
Here are some key points to consider when hiring a branding agency, so that they feel like a true partner in your business…
Who have they worked for in the past?
Every agency has a specialty, or a niche.
You don’t just want to hire an agency that is great at branding, but they have to have a profound understanding of your specific industry as well.
They have to know how to talk the talk, and walk the walk.
Find out if they’ve represented businesses that are somewhat in line with yours, so you know they can handle what comes their way.
Furthermore, pay attention to the brand values they’ve represented on behalf of other companies – are these values in line with yours?
What do others have to say about them?
Whatever you do, don’t entrust your business’s reputation to a branding agency that has a bad reputation!
Once you’ve found out who they’ve worked for in the past, you can use this opportunity to collect references and testimonials to back up the agency’s claims.
The kind of questions you should be asking can include:
- How does the agency handle timelines and schedules?
- What services are covered and what aren’t covered?
- How did the agency handle multiple revisions?
- What was the ROI (return on investment) for the work the agency provided?
Do they “get” you?
Before hiring a branding agency, you definitely want to get a sense of how they communicate with you – the prospective client – to make sure you are both operating on the same wavelength.
Successful branding relies heavily on effective collaboration between the client and the agency. If you can’t get your message across to your branding agency, how are they going to get your message out to the rest of the world?
What network do they bring with them?
It’s important to realize that branding extends far beyond getting a logo designed and printing up some business cards. Down the road, you are going to need website revisions, an ongoing social media presence, a variety of printed materials, and various digital media.
It would be in your best interests if the branding agency you choose to work with has the capability to address these future needs as they arise.
You’d be hard pressed to find a single person who is great at all the facets of branding. The most obvious solution is to hire a large agency, so you have access to many people with various skills. However, this isn’t always practical for all budgets.
If you are not able to hire a large agency, you can still benefit from hiring a small company – even an individual – who boasts an extensive and reputable network.
For instance, maybe your branding expert is just one person, but they’ve formed tight working relationships with a credible group of graphic designers, web designers, SEO specialists, copywriters, photographers, videographers, and social media experts.
Hiring someone who has a long history of working with the best of the best in these various sectors can be just as impactful as working with a big agency (it might even be better).
Need a hand with your business brand? Contact Kim Speed at Purple Moon Creative today!