How do you pick the best branding agency? Well, first of all, you should be fascinated by their work. But there are more signals you are making the right (or wrong) choice.
What’s the best branding agency? Hard question. Picking an agency that fits your needs is no easy feat. Through the years, branding has gained awareness and recognition, pushing demand and specialization. As a result, a Google search will return you to dozens if not hundreds of branding agencies. It goes without saying that they can be wildly different not only in their quality but also in their actual capabilities.
Here are some tips on how to find the best branding agency that will give you the best results.
#1 — Their work resonates with you
It should be implicit, but this is the first rule. Look at the work and follow your gut reaction. The work shouldn’t just feel nice and aesthetically pleasing, but exciting. It should be work you want to steal. This has to be the first, unmissable condition to choose the best branding agency for your project. It could be a small agency or a large studio: let your instinct speak in the early phase.
#2 — The complexity level of their projects matches your own
Some think a big company should pick a big agency, but it’s more complicated than this. The best branding agency is the one that can manage the right level of complexity required by the project at hand.
Complexity in branding is mainly defined by the number of brand applications and the variety of media the brand is supposed to work on. A big company could have a relatively easy project to develop, while a smaller startup might be aiming for a full-scale branding effort. Does the agency check out for complexity? The portfolio will help you: just check what kind of applications are portrayed or listed (you will inquire in-depth later). How many are they and on what media?
You might be surprised to find that even a big agency, used to handle complexity, has a weak spot in a specific area (e.g. digital or video identity), while a small agency might be very well suited to your exact needs and be the best branding agency for you.
#3 — They share your vision on branding
Picking a branding agency is sometimes just one step below marriage: you should be sure you are partnering with someone who shares your ideas. Otherwise, the project could derail or, even if everything works, not express its full potential.
Most agencies will have their vision or philosophy displayed on their website or credentials. Some are very generic, some are deeper. Read it with attention and ask yourself whether it aligns with your values (or it challenges them in an interesting way!).
#4 — They have worked for clients with similar goals
Which is not the same as saying “from the same category”. That is a plus, but it’s also a very limiting condition. It’s actually more important that the clients from the agency portfolio had business needs and goals similar to yours.
Were they trying to colonize a niche? Or maybe to excel within their category? Or to shed off a perception of being “an old brand”? This is often presented in the “Briefing / Solution” part of every case study. To find the best branding agency sure you read those to get a feeling of what you can accomplish with that agency.
#5 — They have the right level of strategic thinking
Do you need a strategy for your branding? Of course you do. But then again, depending on the project and your company’s way of working, you might have figured out a good part of the strategy yourself.
If most of the thinking has been done, you might want to choose a lighter agency that is focused on mostly pure execution. Mind you though: this means that you will be required to do all the thinking all the time.
On the other hand, a very strategic branding agency will help you navigate some difficult decisions. You can easily tell what is the best branding agency for you by just reading some case studies and checking if the strategy is always a part of the solution.
When picking a branding agency, you should be focused and demanding, but you should also try to look in-depth. Try to avoid social-style mindless scrolling through case studies and take the time to evaluate them in detail.
In the end, you want to make sure the agency will solve the right problem, with the right approach and the right amount of WOW.
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