Choosing a Branding Agency in 2023 - What Things to Look For
Happy New Year! If you’re feeling the “new year, new you” vibes, that might mean you’re ready to head into 2023 with a new and improved brand for your business! Branding a new business or rebranding your current business is a fun and exciting journey, but before you go plunging into the brand strategy deep end, you’ll want to take a little time to pick the very best branding agency for your company’s goals and personality.
So how do you pick the best branding agency?
We’ve narrowed it down to seven key factors to look for when you’re on the hunt for your branding partner. If you can check off each of these seven items, you’ve likely found The One!
1. They have a diverse branding portfolio.
There’s no business out there exactly like yours. Even in a heavily saturated market, there will always be something that makes your company unique, so why would you settle for cookie-cutter branding? Businesses can easily get lured in by branding agencies claiming to “specialize” in their industry or niche, but what companies end up with is one-size-fits-all branding that looks like everybody else in the industry.
A truly great branding agency doesn’t specialize in one industry. They specialize in branding! That means when you look at their creative portfolio, you should see a wide array of projects across industries with many different styles and collateral. When you work with a branding agency that has worked with a variety of businesses, you know you’re working with people who have a depth of perspective.
After all, your business isn’t a one-trick pony - why would you want your branding company to be?
2. They’ve got a proven process.
The backbone of any great branding agency is a well-defined process that delivers results. Look for agencies that can clearly explain their methodology from the very beginning steps all the way to the finished product and even what continued brand management looks like down the road.
Remember not to get lured in by fancy visuals right off the bat. Any good graphic designer can show you a shiny, new logo, but a branding agency with a proven process will build from the bottom up for more impactful, long lasting results.
Before any new visuals are created, a good brand strategy process will be focused on finding your unique brand position - what makes you stand out from your competitors, what are you trying to communicate to your customers, what is your company’s story, how can your brand leverage the things that make your company special? When businesses choose Quill Creative Studio for their branding projects, we’ll ask the right questions to help you identify and articulate your brand’s values, personality and differentiators. Then, we’ll use your insights to develop creative concepts that can be applied across all brand touchpoints.
If you want a branding agency that delivers outcomes, their process is going to start with a lot of questions and research to build you a brand strategy and visual identity that is truly authentic. At Quill, we take the time needed to really understand what makes our clients unique, so that we can create brand experiences that are truly differentiated.
3. They’ve got the right vibes.
While there is a definite process to getting branding right, the journey there is largely a creative one, and any creative process requires collaboration. Even if you’re the hands-off type when it comes to the creative behind-the-scenes work, you’ll still be working closely with your branding agency while they dig deep into what makes your business special. All this is to say...you want the vibes to be right.
What does it actually mean to get the vibes right? To start, look for a creative agency with a company culture that matches your company culture. Are you comfortable working with the people you’ve met at the agency? Do you feel like they “get” your business and the direction you want to go in? Take a look at their portfolio of past work. Does it seem like their values align with yours?
At the end of the day, you won’t get the results you’re looking for if you and your branding agency don’t see eye to eye on some of the fundamentals.
4. They communicate well.
This may seem obvious, but staying connected with your branding agency while they work on your project is essential. Because branding is a largely collaborative and creative endeavor, you want to look for an agency that’s got its communication and organization game on lock.
Consistent, clear communication and access to all the people working on the project are key. That’s why we don’t believe in separating the client from the creative talent at Quill. When you work with us, you get to be part of our unique studio model of collaboration. That means you’ll always get a dedicated project manager and direct access to the people working on your project.
Clear and consistent communication sets everyone up for success and allows us to get back to our clients quickly, without any bureaucratic back and forth. This has allowed the Quill Creative Studio team to work seamlessly with each other and create final products that truly feel “whole.”
5. They’ve got connections.
A great branding agency will not only have a wide variety of talent across their team but a wide variety of talent across their larger professional network to serve their clients better. Your branding agency should be upfront with you about what services they can and cannot provide and should have easy plug-and-play options in their creative network for outsourcing additional services you need, like website development, copywriting, digital advertising, environmental graphics production, and more.
While it may be tempting to go with a full-service creative agency that claims they “do it all,” “doing it all” can end up meaning that they try to do too much and don’t have the focus or clear process to create a successful brand experience across the board.
At Quill, we pride ourselves on staying in our lane. We get to know the intricacies of your brand so that we can provide you with exactly what you need and tag in specialized partners for the things we don’t provide. And with years of making community connections with some of the best specialized talents locally here in Oshkosh and throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest, we’re confident we can connect you with the right people to handle your brand execution.
6. They’re upfront about pricing.
Branding is a big investment and one of the most important things you will ever do for your business, so you want to make sure you’re doing it right. When you invest in good branding, there’s no half-assing it, and at Quill Creative Studio, we’ll always be upfront with you about everything you need for your brand to be successful.
Before you launch your new brand, we want to ensure that you have everything you need to succeed. This may include creating a new website that better reflects your brand's mission, values and differentiators, creating promotional materials such as flyers and internal graphics with your new look and messaging, advertising your brand through billboards, creating blog posts, email templates and social media videos to engage with customers, gathering customer testimonials to use as reviews for potential customers, and more.
All of that can add up. At Quill, we’ll never beat around the bush about what things will cost, and we’ll always give you the full picture in terms of what assets you’ll need and what kind of investment you can expect to make for a successful brand launch.
When your branding agency is transparent about the financial investment of branding right out of the gate, you can better budget and work with the agency to come up with the best plan of execution that both meets your needs and doesn’t break the bank.
7. They’re in it for the long haul.
Your branding journey shouldn’t end after your agency has put your strategy into play and handed over your new brand guide. Branding is a long game. To see continued success, you’ll need ongoing brand management that is always working to reinforce your brand position and keep your messaging and visuals aligned and relevant to your audience.
If your branding agency isn’t invested in your brand’s long-term success, you’re not getting the full branding product. At Quill Creative Studio, we go into the branding process with ongoing brand management in mind so that even when the initial branding process is complete, you’ll always have someone who understands your brand in your corner.
Maintaining brand recognition is an ongoing process. Don’t invest the time and money into a stellar brand identity and brand strategy without considering how to plan to manage your brand for years to come.
Finding the right branding agency in 2023
Your business’ brand is one of its most important assets, as it sets your business apart from competitors and can help to create a strong reputation and loyal customer base. A well-executed brand strategy involves understanding the needs and interests of your target market, developing a unique and recognizable brand identity, and creating meaningful experiences for your customers that align with your brand values.
The new year is the perfect time to consider upping your branding game and creating a more powerful, recognizable brand that resonates with your customers - whether that’s full branding for a new business, a rebrand, or just an assessment and retooling of some of your key brand elements.
If you’re ready to see what creative branding services can do for your business in 2023, let’s talk.