The endgame of the branding agency selection process often looks like this: you’ve completed your vetting process, you know your budget, you’ve weeded out the agencies that came in too high and the ones that came in too low, and you’re confident that the agencies still in the running are capable and competent. But now it’s time to choose, and when you’re down to two agencies that you like, how do you decide which one is going to be the best steward for your organization’s brand? This is where things get tricky because often the things that are really going to matter to you during your brand development or rebrand process are hard to identify during a typical vetting process. After leading hundreds of branding and rebranding efforts, here are some things to think about when you’re trying to decide between two comparable shops.
What are the differences in the branding process?
Did the shops during the selection process talk about how they do the work? Deliverables may align, but what are the differences in process? Some agencies rely on ‘gut’ or ‘experience’ as opposed to doing research and insight work. Others, like Whitepenny, dedicate an entire phase of the process to research, listening, and analysis before putting pen to paper to ensure the deliverable is in line with strategic goals. Think about your organization and which approach works better for you and figure out which candidate aligns with how you would like the process to go.
Who is actually doing the work?
While there are a variety of branding agency structures out there, most usually fall into one of two categories: single team or conglomerate. A conglomerate agency has a few (or a lot) of mini teams within the organization, and your project will be assigned to one of those teams. In the beginning you’ll meet with leadership, then you’ll be handed off to a project lead of one of the teams, that team will do the work, and at the end leadership will be back on the call to wrap things up. Agencies like Whitepenny are single-team agencies: one team does the work for all clients. The people you speak to on the first call are there on the last call. Every member of the team works on every project that comes through the door, ensuring a consistent and robust experience level across all team members. Understanding what type of agency structure suits your expectations and needs will be a crucial part of identifying the right fit for your project.
What happens when a branding project is over?
How the agency is set up business-wise will heavily influence what happens once the work is completed. Some shops are built around quantity — they make their money by doing lots of projects in as little time as possible and they tend not to stick around with clients for longer-term engagements. Whitepenny and most single-team shops are built on continuous engagement. That is, they stay on to serve as a bolt-on marketing department once the big push of a branding or rebranding process is over. By staying with our clients long-term, they get branding and marketing capabilities without having to bring those capabilities in-house. As you make your final agency selection, ask yourself if your company prefers a short-term, project-based agency or if you want an agency that will foster long-term relationships and stick around to cultivate a living, breathing brand.
The right branding partner is about you, not them
Almost all of the branding horror stories we hear from clients come down to misaligned expectations and lack of clear communication. The company wanted to work one way, the agency works in a different way. The company needed more help and the agency wanted to develop the brand and move on to the next one. Selecting a branding agency is one of the rare times it’s okay to be selfish. It is, after all, your brand. Understanding your company’s expectations for these nuances of the branding process and how you work best is the first step in selecting the right agency for you.
Can We Help?
We’re Whitepenny and we’re a single-team branding agency that believes in the power of research and the results of process. We forge long-term relationships with every client and to this day, our entire team is hands-on in every project. If we’re the right fit for you, we’d love to help.