When you’re thinking about hiring a branding agency, you generally end up in one of two situations. You either can’t contain your excitement over all the possibilities a new brand could offer… or you’re so overwhelmed you don’t know where to start.
Wherever you are, there are a few questions you’ll need to ask to set yourself up for success. These are questions both for yourself, and for any branding agency to choose to partner with in your branding (or rebranding) journey.
So what are the most important questions to ask when hiring a branding agency? Let’s dive into the top 20 questions to consider before you begin.
Questions to ask yourself when hiring a branding agency
First, there are a handful of questions you’ll need to ask yourself when going into partnership with a branding agency. These questions will make the hiring process smoother – and ultimately, make the project run more smoothly.
Before hiring a branding agency, make sure you can answer these questions.
1. What am I expecting from working with a branding agency?
Take a moment to set (or examine) your expectations. Branding agency services cover a wide spectrum. What you expect might not align with an agency’s area of expertise or even be something possible to achieve.
A business’s success is the result of many different parts working together, and hiring a branding agency is only one piece of a larger puzzle.
2. How much experience do I have working with agencies?
Have you had negative experiences with agencies? Letting these dictate your view of agencies is all too easy, but it’s usually not beneficial. Instead, listen to agencies you’re considering with fresh eyes, allowing yourself to be curious about the process.
If you’re new to agency work, expect it to be different from an employee/employer or a freelancer/client relationship.
3. Do I have buy-in from my whole team?
Hiring a branding agency all on your own is rare. Usually, you need approval from several people. Make sure no one is on the fence. If your C-Suite doesn’t agree, the project will be harder on you and the agency.
4. What is my budget?
This question will help you narrow the field when deciding which branding agency to hire. Does your budget match the problem you need to solve? Are you being realistic about what your resources are and the going rate for the services you’re looking for? Being clear about your budget allows you to focus on what really needs to be done, right now.
5. How much do I know about my customers?
You can skip this question if you have a robust collection of customer data. If you’re unsure, now’s the time to review.
Do you need to know more about your customers?
Some agencies can help you with customer research, but others don’t. Before hiring a branding agency, make sure you know whether you need this service.
6. Do I have a vision for my future brand?
You’ll probably be asked this question a lot when hiring a branding agency. A successful brand isn’t solely built on your vision, but your vision is important. If you don’t have a vision for your brand, crafting a brand that you can believe in is more difficult for you and your agency.
Take some time to look at your competitors and non-competing brands for inspiration. Then, put together a vision board or document that reflects the kind of brand you want to build.
7. Do I have time blocked off for working with a branding agency?
Agencies take a lot of work off your team’s plate, but they still require active effort on your part. You’ll probably only need to block off time for meetings and giving feedback on work. Make sure you’re able to fit this process into your schedule.
8. What have I already tried?
Review your past and present brand identity before hiring a branding agency. You and your agency can use this review as a starting point.
If you’ve tried things that didn’t work at all, let your agency know so they can avoid repeating the mistake. On the other hand, you can also let them know of any promising directions you’ve unearthed.
9. How will I measure success?
This is one of the most important questions to ask when hiring a branding agency. A good agency won’t get started without a metric for success. Bringing one to the table can open up a dialogue about reasonable goals to set before the project begins.
10. When am I expecting to start and finish this project?
Hiring a branding agency will look different when projects are a year away compared to a month away.
If your branding project is something you’re considering for down the road, now is a great time to subscribe to several agencies’ newsletters to get a better feel for their knowledge base and communication style.
Once you know how, when, and why you’re coming into a project, you’ll be able to start looking at agencies you may want to hire. Then, it’s just as important to know what questions to ask the agencies themselves!
Questions to ask when hiring a branding agency
Here are the most important questions to ask a branding agency to help ensure the agency you’re hiring is a good fit for your company.
11. What is your area of expertise?
Is the agency you’re on a call with an expert in fresh, trendy brands? Well-established, mature brands? Which industries are they most well-versed in?
If they tell you “everything,” dig into that more. Do they have separate teams? Specialists that come in and revise? One person (or one team) can’t be an expert in everything. And expertise is required to craft an exceptional brand.
12. How will you provide the deliverables?
You will decide on deliverables as part of your project scope with your branding agency, so this question will help you ensure there are no unpleasant surprises at the end of the project.
Some agencies will have physical deliverables, while others are 100% digital. If your agency uses any software you aren’t familiar with, this question should help unearth that, too.
13. Do you have a portfolio of published work?
Published work allows you to see “before and after” shots of other brands your branding agency or rebranding agency has helped. When hiring a branding agency, handle portfolios carefully.
Agencies without published work aren’t guaranteed to fail you, but they are inexperienced. This means hiring them is a risk, and you’ll have to decide whether it’s a worthwhile one.
14. What is your process like?
The branding process is a snapshot of working with them. Where does their process begin and end? And why? Asking about an agency’s process is an excellent way to get to know them.
If an agency tells you they don’t have a process, it’s a good idea to politely inform them you’ll be looking elsewhere. Your brand is too important to risk on work that isn’t carefully thought out.
15. How can I contact you with questions?
When the agency answers, follow up by asking if this will be your point of contact for the whole project. You and your team will encounter questions or concerns from time to time, and you’ll need to communicate that with your agency efficiently.
16. What are your values?
Branding is an intimate process. Your brand is a reflection of who you are as a business and as a team. Before you start a project, make sure that you and your branding agency share the same values. Otherwise, you probably won’t end up with a brand you can be proud of.
17. How have you handled projects that didn’t go to plan?
Mistakes happen. Not every project is a winner. Sometimes, this is because of mistakes the agency made. Sometimes it’s because of clients who weren’t willing to accept an agency’s expertise. And sometimes it’s for reasons outside of anyone’s control.
Before hiring a branding agency, ask about their fallback plans and policies for when the unexpected happens.
18. Do you think this can or should be accomplished within one project?
The agency you’re talking to will probably have some recommendations on how to maximize the success of the project. Just like asking about their process, this question helps you measure the depth of an agency’s expertise.
If you have no plans and are just wondering how to rebrand your business, don’t worry! Let your agency know that you don’t have anything in mind yet, and see what they recommend.
19. When will we start to see results?
This is a great time to discuss the success metric you set up previously. Remember, success metrics and timelines will be an open dialogue when hiring a branding agency. As in other questions, you can allow your agency’s expertise to give you a realistic picture of when you’ll see results.
20. Do we trust each other?
Once you get through all these questions, there’s one more question to ask before you sign a contract with a branding agency. It’s the most important question of all – and it’s about trust.
Without trust, a project will fall apart.
As an experienced branding agency in Los Angeles, Flux knows the importance of trust firsthand. We handle each brand with care because we recognize that putting your brand in our hands is an enormous act of trust.
We will work closely with you and your team to ensure you have all the answers you need and are comfortable moving forward with us and our branding process. Reach out to start the conversation about your brand transformation today.