How to find, hire and brief the right branding agency?

We answer some of the most common questions we’ve been asked over the years, in terms of picking a branding agency to help your business. There are so many options out there, that it can be a tricky task. Here’s a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions, along with the practical answers.
How to find, hire and brief the right branding agency?

What is a branding agency, and what do they do?

Firstly, let’s start with what branding agencies do. Branding is so much more than designing a logo. it’s often a chance for a business to take a step back, and really evaluate who they are, what they do, and who their audience is. A good branding agency will undertake a brand strategy process, which will collectively determine the right positioning for your brand. This strategy will then form the roadmap for all future brand applications.

From here, an agency will develop several visual identity options, and once the most suitable is chosen, will roll-out your identity across a range of key touchpoints, like website, stationery, social media, and more.

What can a branding agency do for my business?

Like any creative business, an agency can help you solve a business challenge which you may face. At the most fundamental level, branding studios can help design and produce a visual identity for your company. But at a deeper level, an agency can help distil what your business stands for, who you want to attract.

We often find clients come to us when they’re looking for clarity of their product, service or offering.

How can branding help my business?

The famous saying about branding is that ‘your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room’ Jeff Bezos made that quote many years ago, and it’s still paramount to the value of branding. Brand is one of the most powerful tools a business has at its disposal. The following are some of the key benefits of business branding:

Recognition — People do business with people and companies they are already familiar with. If your branding is recognisable, and has elements of consistency it can make you easier to visualise, memorise and recognise

Purpose — Branding can connect your values to an aligned audience.

Differentiation — In a sea of competitors, the challenge is always to create stand out. A good agency can help you position your offering so you can stand apart from the competition

Clarity — It’s easy to vary your train of thought, without a strong ‘true north’. A clear brand strategy helps you stay focused on your goals and objectives as an organisation. It also provides clarity to your customers, in terms of your story, what you offer, and what you stand for.

Expectation — A brand sets a tone, and conveys an idea of what your business is all about. It sets a precedence of what to expect in terms of your product and/or your service

Professionalism — Well considered branding increases the overall value of your business, by building a suite of strong tangible and intangible assets. It’s critical when you’re talking about new business, and equally when you’re seeking recurring custom for you company. This newfound level of professionalism can also build confidence in your offering

Loyalty — Branding is essentially your promise to your customer, and if you can surprise and delight them, you’re more likely to develop brand loyalty, and customers are more like to repeat purchase, or recommend you to their network

Motivation — Your brand provides direction, clarity and purpose to your employees. A clear brand strategy can inform staff of how to meet the organisations targets and goals. It’s also a crucial tactic to attract top-tier talent.

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.

- Seth Godin, Marketing Expert

Why work with a branding agency?

Expertise — Design & Branding agencies have a strong track-record at working with all levels of stakeholders within your business. They have achieved results for many clients in the past, and with that comes a level of expertise and experience.

Unique Perspectives —Sometimes it helps to have an external source to look at your business with a fresh perspective, in a way that your in-house team, or colleagues may not be able to. The observations and inputs of an agency could positively impact your business strategy.

Market knowledge — An agency has most likely worked on similar projects in the past. With that inside knowledge comes speed, efficiency and proven ability to complete the task.

Speed — Often times businesses don’t have the internal capabilities to implement a new brand, or evolve an existing one. That’s where an agency can come in, with a dedicated team, who are subject matter experts

What makes a good creative agency

For some it’s output and awards, but for others it’s more about the personal relationships built up over time.

Takes the time — A good branding agency will take the time to understand your needs, and provide a roadmap to bringing them to life

Has an amazing proposal — A good proposal will take on-board all the learnings from earlier calls / meetings and distil it into a simple document, with an easy understand process, including pricing, timing and scope.

Understand your needs and wants — Get a deep understanding of what your needs and goals are

Well-Rounded Expertise — A strong team of  designers, with diverse backgrounds across a range of projects

High quality creative — After all, that’s the end result from engaging a design studio. Check their website and socials to ensure the work resonates. Ask yourself, Is it well executed, does it  align to the strategy, does it provide value to the organisation?

Relationships — Does the agency clearly articulate how they can help, do they help you navigate the process, do they hear and understand what you’re trying to convey to them? Open, two way conversation will always bring forth the best flow of ideas.

Realistic expectations — A good agency will tell you what’s realistic in your timeline, and your budget. Lower tier companies may be so keen for your business, that they’ll over-promise what they’re capable of delivering.

Likability — Finally, do you like the idea of working with them? Are they decent people, do they like a bit of a laugh too?

How to find a creative agency?

For an industry built on marketing and promotion, some creative agencies have a  history of struggling to present themselves to their own audiences. It’s a bit like the ‘cobbler’s children having no shoes’. Often, the creative industries are too busy assisting others that our own affairs go unattended.

However, there are many ways to find agencies which stand-out from the pack. The fact you’re reading your article is one of increasingly common approaches — content marketing. LinkedIn is an obvious choice, as it’s the number one location for professionals. Web searches are the other primary source, however it’s not always the most creative, or best suited agencies which sit at the top. Instead, it’s often it’s the sites which are most heavily optimised for SEO. Another place to look is industry bodies, such as Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), who have an annual awards ceremony. Other sources are sites like Mumbrella, which have news on the brand, marketing and advertising industry.

What should I look for when hiring a branding agency?

Much like any other service based specialist business, like an accountant or a financial planner, you’re looking for a high degree of subject matter expertise in your relevant industry. Or at the very least, a track record in similar industries to your own.

The agencies of accord, will be the ones who ask you lots of questions up front, in order to clearly understand your requirements. You’re looking for more than simply a ‘yes man’, you’re looking for someone who can delve deeply into what makes your organisation tick.

How do I choose a design agency?

A lot of it does depend on what your business or service provides. Commercial property companies are going to have different requirements to skincare branding for example. But designers by their nature are interested in a broad range of subjects, and often become subject-matter experts on a specific industry, simply by working with a client over an extended period of time.

Questions to ask a branding agency?

  • As with most things in life, it’s always advisable to do some initial research, like articles such as this.
  • How long have you been in the branding industry for?
  • Do you have any relevant experience in, or similar to my area?

How do you evaluate a branding agency?

Not all branding design studios are created equal. Evaluating a branding agency is similar to that of other service industries. You’re looking for professionalism, clear communication and confidence in the suppliers ability to complete the task. It’s always going to come down to a match of personalities and alignment to output.

The best branding agency in Sydney?

Well, us of course! In all seriousness though, Sydney has a great range of creative talent. While you might not have heard of Ratio, we’ve worked with some of the leading agencies over the past decade or so, such as For The People, Interbrand, Re, Landor and more. Often you’ll find with these large-scale agencies that whilst they have an arsenal of services, they also come with a hefty price tag.

How much do branding agencies charge?

It’s always a matter of how long is a piece of string. A good agency will seek to understand your business ambition, and how these services can help your business to grow. It’s always worth seeing this as a conversation regarding your return on investment. Most agencies will offer a range of pricing tiers based on the deliverables required.

How long does branding take?

Every project is different, and each one needs to take into considerations the complexities of the brief. Some agencies work with many companies at the same time, whilst others work one to one with clients.

Whilst timelines do tend to vary, it’s not uncommon for a branding project to run for 4-8 weeks. That usually requires fast, and direct feedback, and minimal rounds of changes. Once your brand is established and guidelined, then you would have to consider the time to roll out all the other touchpoints, such as websites, stationery, socials and anything else you may require.

How do you approach a creative agency?

In our experience, it usually all starts with a phone call or an email. From there, an experienced agency will get an understanding of your needs, in order to produce a proposal. Which should include approach, pricing and a timeline to achieve your objectives.

What should you expect when hiring a creative agency?

Understanding your brand strategy up front, helps align your offering internally with key stakeholders, and allows you to present a singled minded proposition to your clients.

Would Ratio be a good fit?

Are you still in the process of choosing a creative agency? Why not consider Ratio? We’re passionate about finding branding, marketing and web design solutions that help make your company successful. We meet all of the criteria of a good agency, and as an extra bonus we’re really easy to work with. Schedule a call with us, to find out more

Our Work

Interested in learning more about how we can help your business to grow?

If you're looking to name your brand, refresh your visual identity, or to create a new brand from scratch — our studio can help. Our services also include full roll-out for all your customer-facing touch-points, like websites, social content and print based collateral.

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