A Corporate Identity
As Amazon founder, chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
A brand isn’t just a logo -- it is the way in which your consumers view your company as a whole. Many aspects go into a brand identity, including mission, core values, company culture, copywriting tone, and -- of course -- visual identity. A great logo design and branding agency can help assess the most important pieces of your company, create a brand identity that conveys that to consumers and design a logo that encapsulates it all in a responsive symbol.
By utilizing a top branding company to determine a solid brand identity, you’ll set the stage for every marketing initiative to come by staying true to your company ideals. Since 91 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from an authentic brand, maintaining this personality throughout every marketing campaign and platform is paramount.
A brand identity isn’t just for your consumers’ benefit -- it’s for your company’s, too! Branding defines every aspect of your company, making it easy for businesses to determine the partnerships that their demographic might identify with, the language that permeates, and even the visuals that better content marketing campaigns, for example.
Consistent Social Media
Enlisting a branding agency to develop the perfect logo may inform a stronger overall social media strategy. A brand’s visual identity spans far beyond a logo design -- it incorporates a color palette, typography and a standard for images and copy. These design elements will influence a specific Instagram aesthetic or determine the appropriate imagery for Twitter that suits your core values.
In fact, a brand can also signify the relationship between a brand and its clients or consumers -- a gap that social media bridges. Thus, defining what that contact looks like with the assistance of a team of branding experts will only improve that relationship.
A Well-Branded Website
Although a website design and logo design may seem like two different projects, they actually go hand-in-hand. The best logo design and branding agencies know this and are able to work with website designers to integrate the logo and brand into a new or existing website, resulting in increased conversions.
Proper branding on a website doesn’t just ensure the digital destination is recognizable -- it also cultivates a strong user experience. Often times, logos serve as a navigational North Star, enabling visitors to quickly locate the homepage, no matter how deep they journey into a website.
A Foundation For Future Projects
A strong and recognizable brand identity will serve as a foundation for all future projects. Before every product launch, potential partnership or big business decision, ask yourself (or your team), “Is this on-brand?””
By answering “yes,” you’re ensuring a consistent brand identity across every platform and medium. And because 90 percent of consumers expect a similar brand experience across every channel, this consistency is the key to captivating new users and transforming them into returning customers.
Questions To Ask A Logo Design Firm Before You Hire Them
How Will You Determine Our Brand Identity?
One of the best ways to grow a business and secure returning customers is to facilitate a strong and identifiable brand identity. This will be cultivated through shared values, consistent visuals and company goals that consumers will relate to.
Since the ideal brand identity can be tricky to both nail down AND replicate across every channel, ask the following questions to make sure the logo and branding agency you choose can successfully achieve this.
- How do you define branding?
- How will you evaluate our brand and determine our demographic?
- What do you think of our brand? What are we doing well and where can we improve?
- What platforms and mediums will be affected by this project?
Who Will Be Working On Our Branding Project?
As with all outsourced projects, you aren’t just hiring a branding agency -- you’re hiring a team of top design experts and essentially handing them the keys to your business. Therefore, it is imperative that you don’t just vet the logo design agency itself, but screen each employee that will be on working on your project.
Once you have an understanding of their personal experience, expertise, and the amount of time they will be dedicated to your project, you’ll have a stronger idea of what you can expect if you sign that agency.
- Which team members will be working on our branding project?
- What is their specialty and experience?
- How much of their time will be dedicated to our project?
- What successful projects have they worked on and what was their role?
- What unsuccessful projects have they worked on and what did they learn?
What Business Or Marketing Items Will Be Affected By Branding?
Because branding stretches far beyond just a logo design, there are often many areas of a business that are drastically affected by a redesign -- in fact, most internal and external departments are.
From office communication and core values to email marketing, social media and web design, a top branding and logo design agency should have a plan in place for rolling out the new visuals to each corner of the company. The questions below will help determine that.
- What platforms, mediums, marketing campaigns or designs will be affected by the design project?
- How do you plan on ensuring every area has a cohesive new identity? Do you have a discovery and tracking system in place?
- Will you be rolling out the new design all at once, or introducing it slowly?
- Do you have a campaign or initiative in place to introduce the new logo design or brand identity?
What Is Your Strategic And Creative Process?
Enlisting a best logo design or branding agency forges a long-term partnership -- and, as with any professional union, you need to make sure that that your two processes can blend together to create positive collaboration reach your business goals.
Plus, creative agencies still need organization and structure in place to keep the ball rolling. Ask the following questions to gain a stronger grasp of how exactly the agency and your individual team works together, communicates with you, and marries a beautiful design with a functional brand-building end-result.
- What is your creative process?
- What is your logistical process?
- How will you create a timeline and keep the project on track?
- Who will be my point of contact?
- What process is in place for inter-departmental collaboration?
- How often can we expect meetings, drafts, updates, and deliverables?
How Much Will Your Branding Services Cost?
Unfortunately, there’s not exactly a simple answer for how much branding services cost, but the below questions will help you understand how much your project will set you back. Although price-per-service is, in some regards, the least important aspect of a design project, you still need to ensure you are staying within your budget while finding the best branding and design agency that provides the attention and assistance to give your business a strong return on investment.
- Do you charge per project or per hour?
- Who and what exactly will I be paying for with that fee?
- Do you have extra fees for meetings, additional strategy assistance, more drafts, etc.?
- What return on investment can we expect from the rebranding?
- How will you determine, measure and report on our goals?
How To Choose The Perfect Logo Design & Branding Company For Your Business
Prior to approaching any design firms, take a moment and define your goals internally. Do you want extensive brand awareness or are you aching to improve click-through rates to your website? Understanding the business objective you need to reach is the key to choosing the best branding and logo design firm for your needs.
These goals aren’t just numbers-related, though. Although the project may change as you learn more about design and meet with various agencies, go into the pitch process with an idea of what you’re hoping to see visually. Are you unhappy with your logo? Does your digital marketing need a refresh? Would you like stronger graphic design services? The final product will always be stronger for preparing your initial wants and needs in advance.
Ask Their Opinion
Although, as we mentioned, it is important to know what you’re looking for in an agency, an objective and an identity design, you don’t need to be married to it. Once you sign on the dotted line and hire a design consultancy, you’ll need to trust them with big decisions that directly affect your company. So, ask plenty of questions!
These questions should run the gamut. See what their definition of branding is, or ask their honest opinion of your company, brand identity or current designs. Then, inquire how they plan to fully understand and develop your identity and translate that to designs. A top agency will be honest with you while offering suggestions that will also reach the goals you're striving towards, so don’t be afraid to put them through their paces for as long as it takes for you to feel comfortable or cross them off your shortlist.
Look At Their Work
You know the saying: Talk is cheap. While many big branding agencies will be completely forthcoming, not everyone will -- so don’t just take them at their word. Look at both the agency's professional portfolio and client list as well as the possible team members who will be working with your company to gain better insight into the actual designs they can create, campaigns they can execute and results the can deliver.
What’s more, don’t be put off by a campaign that performed underwhelmingly. Instead, ask the experts what they learned from that project and what they would do differently if they could do it again to see if they heeded this setback as a great learning opportunity for future clients. After all, as Oprah Winfrey said, “Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”
Know Their Strategy
Chances are, once you hire a branding or logo design agency, you’ll be working with them closely for an extended period of time. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to learn how they work, where they find inspiration, and how often they plan to loop you into the conversation, too.
Many agencies will be flexible with their clients' wants and needs -- some are laid back and completely trust the firm, while others want to see every draft and possible strategy. Be totally upfront with a potential design agency regarding your expectations in terms of creation, strategy and execution. The best branding agencies will work with you to create a structured timeline and communication schedule that you feel comfortable with.
Understand Potential ROI
At the end of the day, when you enlist a great branding agency, you’re paying for design solutions and a strong return on investment -- not something as simple as a quick single symbol. Although it may be hard to look past a high upfront cost, you need to understand the business growth possibilities before you sign a contract.
For example, a more expensive agency may result in a drastically higher ROI than a lesser firm with a lower price structure. While one may be better for your budget in the immediate future, the other could breed long-term positive results. Do your homework, ask in-depth questions, understanding the pricing tiers and ensure you have a strong grasp of each employee's expertise and work history to make the most informed decision that will grow your company quickly.
Top Value Propositions And Differentiating Factors of the Best Branding & Logo Design Agencies
After the products or services your business sells, nothing is more important than how you present your brand to your audience. That’s why branding is such a delicate process -- ultimately, it will help define your business and influence the way consumers the world over experience your brand.
So, the stakes are high when it comes to branding, and selecting the right branding and logo design agency is equally high stakes. The right creative branding agency will understand your values and goals and use this insight to set you up for success. The wrong one will force their vision on you and may miss the mark entirely.
In trying to choose a branding agency, it’s useful to get a sense of how each one positions itself. Positioning offers clues to the company’s values and can indicate whether their philosophy and operating methodology will align with your own. Below are some of the differentiating factors of the top branding and logo design agencies.
Top Branding Agencies Are Committed To A Partnership With Clients
The best branding agencies know that the path to success lies in understanding the client’s needs, goals, vision, and ethos. Branding is an intense and involved process that usually requires close partnership between agency and client, and many top agencies differentiate themselves on their ability to build and maintain such a partnership. Through partnership comes insight, and through insight comes more informed work. Such agencies often assign dedicated client teams, depending on the size of the project, and will spend weeks in discovery and research to ensure they gain a deep understanding of your business and target audience.
The Brooklyn-based design firm Red Antler, who has worked with clients like Casper and Birchbox, prides itself on being a strong partner to clients. “We're an extension of your team. We work side by side—sometimes even out of each other’s offices—and help you fill in the gaps as you move a mile a minute.”
Leading Branding Agencies Push The Creative Envelope
Doing great branding work requires a high level of creativity and a strong spirit of innovation. The best branding agencies are able to cut to the heart of what a business does in order to bring their message forward in a way that is both captivating and simple. The world’s leading creative branding agencies are interested in doing cutting-edge work, not replicating ideas that have been done before. You can expect such agencies to highlight their ability to push boundaries and to demonstrate case studies of work that broke new ground.
Among the top agencies that distinguish themselves on their pioneering spirits are London-based Blue Marlin and New York-based Love and War. Both agencies promise to bring innovation and momentum to the work they do for brands.
The Best Branding & Logo Design Firms Are Holistic In Their Approach
Generally speaking, the ideal situation is to have a single firm handling your branding from start to finish. Operating this way helps ensure consistency and cohesion of all your branding elements. The best branding agencies will be able to handle all your branding needs under one roof, consolidating brand knowledge within the framework of a single team. Smaller agencies with less experience might not have the expertise to manage every angle of the branding process, so if you’re looking for a holistic approach keep an eye out for agencies that highlight the breadth of their service offerings.
Respected Branding Agencies Earn Accolades
Though winning an award doesn’t necessarily make an agency a good fit to handle your business, it does act as indicator of the agency’s good standing within the broader design community. If the agency you’re considering has won awards, it means they’ve done exceptional, groundbreaking work at least once before. Branding agencies that do earn accolades are likely to share them on their website and mention them in pitch meetings. They’re well aware that industry recognition helps build trust with potential clients.
New York-based branding and advertising agency, Ruckus, is no stranger to award-winning creative. They sum it up well on their website: “Commitment to growth and client success inevitably leads to recognition. While awards are not our primary aim, we’re proud to present great work that causes others to take notice.”
Great Logo Design Companies Promote Exceptional Talent
The only way to do exceptional work is to hire and nurture exceptional talent. Top branding agencies are well aware of this fact and, as such, are dedicated to bringing passionate, creative individuals into their organizations. Many agencies seek to differentiate themselves based on the caliber of talent they have on staff by highlighting the experience and thought leadership of their employees. If experienced, cutting-edge graphic design talent is important to you, make sure to ask to be introduced to members of the team during the pitch process and get a strong sense for the type of work the agency does.
BrandMe is a UK branding agency that places a strong emphasis not only on the talent of their employees but also on their positive “can-do” attitudes.
Smart Branding Agencies Know The Value Of Digital Platforms
Regardless of whether they were founded decades before the digital age or have only been in operation for a few years, any branding agency worth its salt will have a deep understanding of, and respect for, digital marketing. Digital is an essential touchstone in the consumer’s experience of even the most traditional brands. Top branding agencies know that maintaining digital as a key consideration in their process is crucial to the success of every project. Look for agencies that take pride in their understanding of the digital landscape, and who demonstrate a clear ability to approach a project holistically, accounting for all of the contexts in which brands may be experienced.
Service Offerings Of Top Branding & Logo Design Agencies
As discussed, top branding agencies often take a holistic approach to their projects, pitching themselves on their ability to handle a client’s brand identity in its entirety. Still, not every client requires that kind of full-service approach, and most agencies are also flexible enough to take on smaller, piecemeal engagements if the occasion calls for it.
Among the services you can expect to find on offer at any top branding agency are:
- Brand strategy - The very first step in the branding process, the brand strategy involves defining positioning, messaging, and a brand’s unique differentiating factors.
- Naming - Naming is one of the most fundamental elements of branding. Naming strategies may be done for brand new businesses or those looking to pivot in a new direction.
- Logo design - The fun stuff -- this is where the agency will come up with logo concepts and iterate on them based on client feedback.
- Packaging - Many branding agencies can also handle package design and prototyping.
- Brand identity - A full set of assets and standards, including logo, typography, color palettes, core messaging, and packaging if applicable.
- Repositioning - Identity refresh which may include redesigning and updating any elements of the brand identity to reflect changes in the business or the marketplace.
How The Best Branding Agencies Market Themselves
Marketing a branding agency is largely about building trust and establishing authority. In order to be given a major contract from a respectable client, agencies must first convince their prospects that they have strong credibility and the talent required to produce inspired work.
To accomplish this, top branding agencies have to do a little marketing and branding on their own behalf. Among elite agencies key marketing tactics include:
- Word of mouth - The holy grail of marketing, word-of-mouth is when one person (or company) speaks highly of another person/product/company.
- Client testimonials - A form of word-of-mouth marketing that’s managed by the brand, client testimonials feature the positive experiences of a satisfied client. Hearing about the rewarding experience of another client builds trust in prospects and helps bring them through the door in the first place. References will further seal the deal once challengers are narrowed.
- Case studies - Examples of previous work. Nearly all agencies use their websites as marketing tools to highlight their best work. Case studies act as proof of what the agency is really capable of.
- Thought leadership - Demonstrating expertise in an area or industry through a range of different content created by the agency or employees of the agency. Thought leadership is a form of content marketing.
- Social media marketing - Engaging with a community of fans, advocates, and industry peers through active social media participation and community management.
It takes a lot to stand out as a top branding agency these days. The best of the best do exceptional creative work and follow a process that puts the client relationship in a position of foremost importance.
Other key differentiators of the best branding agencies include:
- Committed to the partnership - Will the agency value your business? How do they plan to partner with you to benefit the outcome of the project?
- Boundary-pushing creative - What type of work does the agency regularly produce? Do they constantly innovate, or do they simply churn out more of the same project after project?
- Holistic approach - Is the agency capable of managing all of your company’s branding needs? Do they take a wide view of your needs, understanding how each element of the brand strategy interacts with and influences another? Do they also function as an ad agency, capable of handling marketing needs as well?
- Award-winning - Is the agency recognized as a leader in the design world? Has their work earned praise from others in their industry?
- Emphasis on digital - Does the agency have a solid grasp of the current digital landscape? Does this understanding influence their work product for the better?
- Talent on staff - What types of people work at the agency? Are they passionate and committed to their field? Which employees will be assigned to your project and what are their skills and strengths?
Top Qualities of the Best Branding & Logo Design Companies
Top logo design companies use market insights and plenty of industry research throughout their design process. Understanding what different symbols mean to your audience, thinking about the psychology of color, and focusing on what underlying messages certain font types convey are just a few of the factors agencies consider when doing custom logo design. Using market insights and conducting research to ensure that the brand’s logo evokes the emotion desired is one of the ways that some of the more talented agencies will differentiate themselves.
Today, most businesses are focused on digital assets. However, when it comes to company logo design and branding, the best agencies will focus on how the assets appear offline as well as online. There is a strong likelihood that the logo will need to be used in offline collateral at one point or another. While a logo designed specifically for web use may look great on a digital screen, it might not translate well to a piece of physical collateral. The most experienced designers will ensure that any logo they create makes a strong impression across every form of media, and provide variations of the logo that can be used in different contexts.
The best logo design agency for your company will have a specific process they use when it comes to custom logo design and branding. While every agency can – and will – have a different process for this type of design, it’s critical that there be a proven method for success already in place. From concept brainstorming to rounds of design and editing feedback, the logo design process can be taxing, but a rigorous process is essential to finding the right design to symbolize your company, products, or services.
It can be difficult for companies to verbalize precisely what they’re looking for in their logo and branding, but all top logo design companies will work with the client to clearly understand their vision and act confidently in translating that vision to a final design. Logo design projects often entail many iterations, and the best agencies possess a willingness to return to the drawing board and collaborate with the client until the logo reflects the goals and beliefs of the brand. Open communication and the ability to be responsive to client feedback is one of the key traits to look for when searching for a new agency partner.
The best branding and logo design agencies understand the need for creative minds and creative thinking when it comes to branding conception. In many ways, a logo is the face of your brand, as it represents your company directly to your audience and the world. The best logos are simultaneously complex and simple. Though this may seem like a contradiction in terms, it simply means that while visually a logo shouldn’t appear overwhelming or chaotic, the symbolism behind the icon should be complex and nuanced. Each piece of the design should represent a core tenet of the brand. The best logo designers tap into a creative mindset to fulfill this essential part of the branding process.