How to Select a Branding Company

What is Branding?

The technical definition of a brand is the sum total of all functional and emotional assets of the product, service or group that differentiate it among the competition, but ultimately a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. It’s a gut feeling because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational. It’s a person’s gut feeling because in the end, the brand is defined by individuals, not companies, markets, or the general public. Each person creates his or her own version of it. Regardless of whether the beliefs a customer holds about your company are many or few, good or bad, accurate or inaccurate, they comprise the image of your brand and influence how your customer thinks and buys.

Brands are promises that consumers believe in by creating consumer trust and emotional attachments. Great brands aren’t just known, they are trusted. When people are aware of your brand, they are aware of the positive characteristics for which you stand. Long before they get ready to make a purchase, they feel they know who you are and what unique value they can count on your company to deliver.

What are the benefits of hiring a professional branding agency?

Bringing in a brand expert is a great way to get a fresh outside perspective that resolves the issue of “being too close to the problem to solve it”. A great expert can work alongside your company to identify and asses branding shortcomings, as well as identify opportunities to better position your company’s message in the marketplace. The result of a healthy company rebrand can lead to the following advantages:

Sales time.

Whether you’re selling products to consumers, investment opportunities to stockholders, or job opportunities to applicants, a brand paves the way for success by establishing awareness of your unique and meaningful promise before you ever even present your sales proposition. As a result, when it comes time for a consumer to make a decision, the company can concentrate on the wants and needs of the consumer, rather than take up valuable consumer time trying to explain themselves and their unique attributes. Without a brand, you have to build a case for why you deserve the consumer’s business every single time you get ready to make a sale.

Competitive edge.

Society has moved from an economy of mass production to an economy of mass customization. Thus, a consumer’s purchasing choices have multiplied. Because of the Internet, the competitive arena has now stretched around the world, and consumers have become information-rich and time-poor. The process of comparing features and benefits of a product or service over its competitors is time consuming and frustrating. The process is exacerbated by competitors who copy each others’ features as soon as they’re introduced. This is why the degree of trust a consumer feels toward the product, rather than an assessment of its features and benefits, will determine where he or she will buy a product or service over another.

Turn customers into advocates.

Companies all over the world are beginning to develop compelling ways of sharing their brand to customers, from tradeshows, to websites, to advertising, to marketing — creating positive brand touchpoints for customers to truly experience the company’s brand, and more importantly make it memorable. The more informed and positively affected a customer is about a company brand, the more inclined they are to share the correct information and positive attributes to a friend, family member, or colleague.

Types of Agencies

There are many kinds of agencies that offer branding services. However, not all use the same approach. The following are examples of types of firms that might advertise the ability to brand your business:

Public Relations

This kind of organization produces and manages messages to and from the media on behalf of a client. These messages are unpaid and are usually found in printed publications such as the newspaper or magazines, as well as other forms of media like the Internet or television. The primary goal of a Public Relations Specialist is to influence public opinion of his or her client in a way that favorably affects business.


This kind of firm deals solely with the graphic design of print and web media. Typically, the services offered include, but are not limited to, corporate identity (logos, business cards, etc.), fliers, advertisements, and product packaging.


Companies that focus solely on web marketing typically offer website design as well as some type of web advertising service that directs the consumer back to the client’s website itself. Examples of this are search engine optimization (SEO) or email services.

It is important to note that while each of these agencies offers services that are important to branding, none of them offers an all-inclusive branding experience. By seeking out an actual branding agency, you are more likely to find a company that supplies more of the above-mentioned services. The core elements of branding are “brand development” and “brand deployment.” Many companies can boast the first, but the more resources and experience they have at their disposal determines how effectively they can accomplish the second.

Selecting an Agency

Factors to consider

The process of taking your company through a proper rebrand is a very personable process. Remember, the company you select will on some level know your organization better than you do, ultimately telling you, “who your company is and how consumers should perceive it.” In order for them to achieve this, the agency should be one that fits well within your organization, has experience in successfully branding various organizations in different industries. Remember though, part of successfully branding is the ability to problem solve with a fresh perspective. Thus, specializing in an industry may hinder an agency’s ability to gather new ideas. It is also important that the agency be forthright with the information they find, and work as part of your team to creatively find solutions to achieve branding success.

Writing an RFP (Request for Proposal)

It’s very important you’ve determined what and who you want before you put pen to paper on an RFP. Once you’ve obtained a clear vision for what the end result of this process will look like, you’ll be able to write an RFP with ease. The format should essentially model the following:

I. Index
II. Introduction
III. Project Requirements and Budgets
IV. Timeline
V. Process

While the index is generally self-explanatory, the introduction should contain valuable information about your company, as well as why you are submitting an RFP in the first place.

Your requirements section should leave nothing to the imagination. Every detail of the task at hand should be included. If you want print only, specify it. Have a specific budget? Name it. This is your chance to make everything clear and concise so you get a proposal back that suits your needs specifically.

Your timeline can take two approaches. If you have a specific deadline for completion of your project, list it here. However, if you’d simply like to see what each agency thinks is realistic, you can leave this open ended on your company’s end, and ask for a quote.

Last, and perhaps most important, is the process. Anyone can have a great idea. But deployment strategy is key in branding. Be sure to ask how the agency intends to develop your new brand and then implement it.

Conducting Interviews and Selecting an Agency

During the interview, there are some key questions you should ask. Start with who the agency is, what they specialize in, and what is unique about their particular agency. Then, ask how they do what they do. What kind of strategies do they implement to be an effective agency? Next, give the agency an opportunity to share with you their awards and recognition. This will give you valuable insight into their credibility. Ask questions about their leadership and creative teams. What kind of experience do they have with a company or task like yours? Find out about their project scope of work in conducting a brand overhaul. What is their process? How do they plan to stay within your budget? And lastly, get some case studies and references from them to follow up on.

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