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6 things to consider when approaching a brand design agency

Have you decied on your target audience, company mission, culture, tone of voice? An expert shares what you should consider before hiring.
Words by
21 June, 2024
2 mins read

For startups, reaching out to a branding agency for the first time can be intimidating. Many are left bewildered after the initial consultation, often overwhelmed by discussions of target audiences, company mission, culture, and tone of voice. If you thought all you needed was a logo and a simple website, these deeper conversations might come as a surprise.

One reason for this confusion is the term “branding” itself. It suggests a simple stamp, logo, or label, but branding is much more comprehensive. It encompasses a wide range of elements that together create a robust and memorable brand identity.

Consider Nike. The brand extends far beyond its iconic Swoosh. Its scope includes realms of activism and cultural influence. Featuring Colin Kaepernick, for instance, showed Nike’s deep understanding of its consumer base—people who value brands that align with their personal beliefs and take a stand on significant issues.

A brand isn’t a one-time project; it’s an ongoing journey. Consistent communication and evolution are vital. Your brand shapes how the world perceives you, and its significance should never be underestimated.

Paul Ferry, Co-founder and Director of ShopTalk shares 6 key points for startups and growing businesses to consider before engaging a brand design agency:

1. Speak in your own language

Communicate in terms you understand and be clear about what you want—even if it’s just a better-looking website. It’s the agency’s job to translate your needs into a comprehensive brand strategy that will help your company shine. Don’t hesitate to ask basic questions to ensure you’re on the same page.

2. Decide what you want to achieve and why

Clarify your goals. Are you looking to attract investors, appeal to new customers, or both? The purpose behind your branding efforts will dictate the approach and ensure the work is tailored to the right audience. A brand targeting wealthy investors will differ from one aimed at a broader consumer base. Defining these goals early helps create a focused and effective strategy.

3. Be upfront about your budget

Transparency about your budget eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth and helps the agency maximize your investment. Agencies can prioritize elements like visual design initially and plan for a phased rollout of other aspects like tone of voice, brand guides, and digital development as more funds become available. Understanding your budget allows both parties to align expectations and work efficiently.

4. Don’t get hung up on finding a niche specific agency

While it might seem logical to choose an agency specialized in your industry, broadening your search can yield more creative results. Agencies with diverse experience can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas, helping your brand stand out. For example, ShopTalk works across various sectors, from technology to agriculture, bringing unique insights to each project.

5. Understand that logos don’t work in isolation

Successful brands are built on more than just logos. They develop layered meanings and resonate with audiences over time. Companies like Amazon, Starbucks, and Nike have evolved their logos and brand identities through consistent, long-term efforts. Strong brands understand that logos are just a part of the overall identity and focus on foundational values to create a cohesive and enduring brand presence.

6. Foster a long term relationship with your agency

Building a brand is an ongoing process, and a good relationship with your agency can make it smoother and more fruitful. Treat your agency as a partner rather than just a service provider. Establish your goals together and develop brand elements that engage your audience at every stage. A long-term partnership ensures your brand remains consistent and adaptable, reinforcing its strength and equity over time.

To sum it up

Approaching a brand design agency can seem daunting, but with clear goals and open communication, the process can be rewarding. Viewing branding as an umbrella term that includes logos, values, visuals, tone of voice, and more will help you develop a comprehensive brand identity. Investing in brand design is an investment in your business’s future, building equity and making you stronger at every stage of development.

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David Ryckman

David is a regular contributor and sub-editor for Who Design Today. He is a Managing Partner at Kwibb and has a keen eye for design and branding.

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