April 16, 2019

How do you know how to choose an agency?

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How do you know you can trust an agency with one of your businesses most important assets, your brand?

It’s an incredibly important question that businesses face as they embark on an exercise that can be a significant time, resource and financial investment. The need to get it right is crucial so how do you make sure you make the right decision and choose the right partner?

Throughout Cheshire and the North West there are many agencies to choose from that claim to offer branding as a service – but do they actually?

Here we highlight a number of key points that businesses should consider before appointing an agency or partner to review and develop their brand:

There is a difference between branding and design.
Design is one output of the branding process, it is not the process itself. True branding comprises a much more strategic approach and delivers both a verbal identity and visual identity that are aligned to both the businesses vision and its audiences needs and aspirations. Many agencies claim to do branding but actually focus on visual identity alone, neglecting the strategy and verbal identity. Without a robust strategic approach which culminates in a verbal identity the decisions that influence the design of your brand are based on assumption and personal preference – we often refer to this as ‘choosing wallpaper’. A strategic approach that includes thorough market analysis and stakeholder insight gives a platform for making informed decisions that will deliver better value and a more effective brand.

Your brand shouldn’t just be a portfolio piece.
A fundamental decision for businesses is to ensure their brand doesn’t just become the next portfolio piece for the agency. It is much more important than that. Your trust and judgement of an agency shouldn’t just be on their creativity but on how that creativity is attuned to the needs of the business. Is the result pretty or is it relevant and effective for the businesses target audience? Is the agency trying to take you down a path they want to take you because its trendy and they have a specific skill set in house or is it the most effective route for your business?

Your brand shouldn’t fit a ‘house style’
Many agencies have what we call a ‘house style’. This means much of their work looks the same. They design work based on what they like and what looks cool, not what is appropriate and aligns to the real market opportunity. This is probably due to a lack of strategic work up front which establishes both differentiation and distinctiveness for the business based on opportunities both in the market and that the business strategy presents. Businesses should judge the agency on their ability to design for the opportunity – this will mean the agency has a wide variety of creative work in their portfolio that spans different sectors, budgets and life-stages of businesses.

Look for a variety of experience, knowledge and skills
Branding is, at its heart a creative process and the best creativity is achieved when a variety of perspectives, ideas and thinking come together to challenge each other. In selecting a partner for your business I would recommend choosing one based on the people in the business. A variety of experience and backgrounds will combine to give you a broader range of thinking, the result is a more rounded approach that will ensure the most effective solution is delivered. While we are based in Newton le Willows our team is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, with unique interests and talents that have been shaped by working at some of the best agencies both in Manchester, Cheshire and the North West as well as around the world including (Saatchi & Saatchi and Landor). Our people have also benefited from cultural learnings by working in cities such as London, Madrid and Melbourne. This different mix of people brings a wide range of approaches and ideas to the table that help build and refine solutions to match the opportunity the business presents.