How to Choose the Right Branding Agency For You
I was at the 10th annual Ad Age Small Agency Conference last week with hundreds of other agencies from around the country. I had the pleasure of attending the first ever conference 10 years ago, and it was interesting to see how many things have changed (most notably being social media) and what has stayed the same (large agency vs small agency challenges). That year I was honored to be one of the writers for the Ad Age Small Agency Diary, and we focused on how to be better by sharing challenges and solutions that we all have faced.
This year, the conference focused on those same small agency challenges. The biggest challenge is getting hired: really finding a way to differentiate oneself from other agencies options.
There will come a time when you need to hire an agency. It may be to launch something new or to reposition your company, or maybe you need a complete brand overhaul. No matter how great your in-house department might be, there comes a time when you need an unbiased, outsider’s perspective, from a 20,000 foot view.
But how do you choose the best agency for you and your project? Selecting the most suitable branding partner will depend on the nature of your business, the complexity of the work, and the budget available. With so many different agencies out there, how do you choose the right one?
Full Service Agencies
Full service agencies are able to cover most of your advertising needs and are typically rooted in more traditional advertising tactics. If you are looking for ads on traditional mediums (tv, radio, billboard, newspaper, etc) then these would probably be the kind of agency you want.
Digital agencies are focused on the new digital technologies, like SEO/SEM, Google ads, etc. If you are looking for a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, then this is the kind of agency for you.
Design boutiques are usually staffed by one or two extremely talented graphic designers and are able to produce great visuals.
Branding agencies are focused on your target audience and developing the brand strategy to connect your company with your target audience.
So how do you choose the right one?
Usually, either because of protocol or regulations, organizations like yours might send out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to a dozen or so agencies and then review their reports with a graded scale to determine the winner.
There is a better way.
First – take a good hard look at what you think you need, or more specifically, what you want the outcome to be.
Second – look for agencies that specialize in your industry, your needs, and have relevant case studies.
Third – set “chemistry” meetings with these agencies to see if you are compatible. Do they use adspeak jargon and talk over your head? Does the CEO attend the meeting with the A team?
It’s not about the cheapest or fastest agency. It’s about the one that has the best chemistry with you. The agency that you feel like you can trust and want to spend time working with.
Not all agencies are a good fit for all clients. Go with your gut and choose the agency that “gets” you and your challenges. Select the agency that understands your target audience and knows how to connect with them on your behalf.
Good Luck. Choose Wisely.
For everyday branding tips, subscribe to our Razor Branding blog and podcast.
RUSSO is a strategic branding agency that uses consumer insight to change the conversation; forming emotional connections with the target audience. To learn more, click HERE to learn more about our process, RAZOR BRANDING.