7 Questions to Ask a Branding Agency

Now that you have decided to establish a strong brand for your business, you may be wondering what the next step is.

While you could always create and execute brand strategies in-house, there are many benefits to engaging a branding agency to help with the process. Hiring the right agency may be worth the extra cost, as it gives you access to rebranding expertise, more resources, and a fresh perspective from a 3rd party. 

For example, agencies like STUDIO DAM that offer creative thinking and ideation during a brand strategy exercise help companies look beyond their perspective of their own brand and instead come up with out-of-the-box ideas and solutions in the process. Our team helps the business to develop sharper business acumen, strategy and holistic design solutions to give client’s a 360 suite of branding services.

Selecting a branding agency comes with its own set of challenges. It can be overwhelming with the sheer number of agencies that offer branding services. 

That’s why asking prospective agencies the following questions may help you narrow down your choices and select the best branding agency fit for your company’s needs.

Before you start looking for a branding agency, you should already have a good idea of your company’s vision, mission, and values for the year. You should also have a goal in mind so that you will be able to begin your branding project with more focused objectives.

Knowing your broad goals would also help you to select an agency that understands your needs and the direction you want your company to grow.

There are many aspects involved in rebranding, involving brand identity and business needs

What is the range of services that your agency offers?

When hiring a branding agency to guide your company on a branding journey, it’s ideal to find one that offers the expertise and suite of services that you require, from strategy to creative design and campaign execution. There is no agency that can be an expert in all forms, but selecting one that is strong in the areas you need is vital.

Agencies that have a stable in-house team and talent would also have quicker turnarounds with more efficient communication processes compared to agencies that would outsource some phases of branding campaigns. 

It’s always a good idea to find out exactly what services you would be paying for, and know the upfront services you’re guaranteed to have. While there might be agencies with a bigger team or longer history of clients, it does not mean they will necessarily do a better job, so focus on the expertise delivered, and not the first impression of the agency.

Can you walk me through your strategic process?

When listening to an agency’s pitch, their strategic process can inform you about their expertise and how empirically proven their processes are.

Clearly defined and articulated processes highlight an agency’s expertise and experience in branding campaigns in the past, and also showcase its working style and creativity as they deal with projects of different niches. 

This helps you examine whether their style and conceptualization would be a good fit for your business, and also envision the direction and objectives of the branding project. 

Being able to break down the stages also allows you to ask specific questions about certain phases of the project. You can also refine certain aspects of the execution or design based on mid-campaign results, or upon review of overall campaign objectives. 

A well-articulated strategic process and timeline also allow for greater transparency so you have a rough idea of the project flow and what the next phase should be, which is important as you work together on the project.

What Return on Investment (ROI) can I expect?

As you consider upfront costs such as agency fees, it’s also important to ask for an estimated ROI. While it’s difficult to quantify and expect tangible direct sales or results from branding, a branding agency should be able to set a clear target for ROI that the campaign should strive to achieve.

ROI can be measured in terms of enquiries, brand visibility, awareness, and more, as long as it’s relevant to your objectives, and can be measured and compared to previous metrics.

This should be discussed in the original project proposal and strategic planning stage to state the milestones when is best to track the performance and evaluate whether any changes need to be made to better achieve set targets.

What are some previous projects you’ve worked on that could be relevant to my business needs?

Usually, an agency’s website would showcase its portfolio, highlighting previous brands or industries that they’ve worked with and the creative assets that were produced for previous campaigns.

You can get a glimpse of an agency’s creative style and flexibility in its designs and strategy based on the variety of campaigns that they have previously executed for their clients.

For example, this brand refresh project by STUDIO DAM for BOB The Baker Boy not only showcases campaign assets but also elaborates on the agency’s strategic process to achieve campaign objectives.

An agency’s portfolio can tell you about its style, experience, and expertise through the clients they’ve worked with and the campaign strategies they have executed.

If an agency has testimonials from previous clients, that’s also a sign of their experience and expertise and serves as a good sign of their credibility and success in collaboration.

It’s always a good idea to take a look at an agency’s website and portfolio to narrow down your selection. If you’re impressed by an agency’s portfolio and move forward in contacting them, you can ask for more details and results of their past projects.

You can also go a step further and ask specifically about campaigns that were conceptualized for clients who have had similar business needs to yours. An agency that can provide examples of their past projects with metrics showcasing their success in working on similar cases would be an ideal choice.

Why are you interested in working with my brand?

How an agency answers this question can tell you how well they understand your business needs and whether your values and objectives align.

While there could be many agencies that are competent and have the right expertise, they may not necessarily be a good fit for your company.

What sets a branding agency apart is whether they are willing to listen and learn about your business, to obtain a good understanding of your business, your brand values, its vision, and its mission. Sometimes prior experience working in this industry or having a similar understanding of how you manage your business also helps ( Eg. Singapore based local business, next-generation family business)

This sets the foundation for a strong, long-term partnership.

A good branding agency will also be able to identify potential challenges and opportunities with your company and what can set you apart from competitors in the industry.

Who will I be working with?

You should be able to meet and communicate with the team that will potentially be working on your campaign as early on as possible before you decide to commit to collaborating with an agency. 

The person delivering the pitch may not always be the one communicating with you day in and day out and executing your campaign, so it’s good to clarify.

This allows you to not be caught off guard when there are new faces coming on board to manage your job..

What will the communication process be like?

When discussing the project timeline and scope, it’s ideal to meet who you will be communicating with, but also discuss how often and when updates, discussions, and reviews will take place between you and the agency.

This can be in the form of weekly email updates, in-person meetings, or bi-monthly online presentations or reports. Regular updates and efficient communication processes between your business and the agency can influence how effective your branding campaign will run.

As a branding journey is a long process, you would want to choose an agency you see yourself working long-term with, and strong, clear, and regular communication lines are important in a lasting partnership. The last thing you need is mistrust and worry that things are not moving and having a stand still.

All the above questions are significant points of consideration that should help you choose an agency that suits your needs. You can also expand on these questions based on the needs of your company and personal working style.

Ultimately, choosing the right branding agency for your business can make a significant difference, and you should be able to establish a strong, long-term partnership with them to build your company’s brand.