Whether you are considering a website redesign, looking for a marketing partner, or needing technical support, there are many factors that go in to choosing an agency for your organization. Some of these factors include cost / rate, approach, and technology. I actually wrote about many of these factors back in 2014, and they still hold true today. But, what about brand? How do you find an agency that will serve your brand well?
First, let's define "brand."
The American Marketing Association defines brand as “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers."
Of course, it is also much more than that. To add on to the American Marketing Association's definition, a brand is a combination of feelings, emotions, aesthetics, and culture. It includes how people feel when they first meet your team, use your product or service, or see your cool office digs and work environment.
Having a solid brand is also impacted by your online presence. Before directly interacting with businesses and organizations, many people will first search the internet. Just like a brochure and other printed marketing collateral, it's important that your website and other digital marketing channels match the in-person or direct interaction someone has with your company.
Establishing a brand can be difficult and challenging, and its helpful to partner with experts to facilitate the process.
To help your search for an agency and establish your brand, here are a few considerations:
1. Review your current brand status
Let's start with the current status of your brand. Are you looking to completely change and revamp your brand? Or, is your brand already set in stone and you need someone to extend it? These are important questions to ask, because they give you a starting point for the type of agency and viewpoint you are looking for.
If you are looking for entirely new look and feel, you might want to take a greater risk and hire an agency that is outside your comfort zone. They might have some different ideas that cause friction, but friction is needed in order to create something new and different.
A good example of this scenario is our client Embossing Plus. When we first partnered with them, their website did not reflect the innovative company they are. A new website took their brand to a new level and reflected what it is like to visit the company. You can see the before and after examples below.
New video, photography, color scheme, messaging, and fonts resulted in an online presence that reflects their brand. If you already have a well established brand, you might want to find an agency more in the middle. They will still bring fresh ideas, but they won't be too radical that it derails your brand.
2. Personnel and styles
Another thing to consider is the personnel who will actively be working on your account. Even within a given agency, there are likely multiple designers that each have their own style. Be sure to ask and meet those individuals in-person, and ask them to walk through how they approach and build upon brands.
This same question goes for marketers and copywriters. If you are looking for messaging and copy on your new website, the tone and style of writing can be incredibly important. Ask about their discovery process and whether they outsource their copywriting. For instance, here at ArcStone we have several different copywriters with unique strengths. Some are better at technical writing, whiles others are strong with emotional nonprofit stories. Writing style is hard to nail and certainly takes time, but asking these questions up front can help ensure your copy is “on brand.”
3. Example work
Relying solely on what you think of an agency's example work can be tricky, because those examples show unique designs that reflect another organization's brand—which might not resonate with you. This is like buying a car. A Kia Soul might fit best for some people, but for others, a Chevy Silverado makes better sense. Both are a great option, but it all depends on audience.
When reviewing example work, remember to consider other factors and ask questions such as: what is their discovery process like? How do they land on a certain style? Do they work with similar companies to you? What results have they delivered?
4. In the end, it's all about Trust
Like almost any business or personal decision, the end decision is mostly built on emotion and trust. Be sure that you vibe well with the staff and that they understand your brand and business objectives.
When we hosted a website redesign panel last year, the number one factor that predicted a successful project outcome was having trust in each other. If you feel your company is in good hands and the communication lines are open, your brand will be better for it.