Reader Adriana wrote “My business is in its infancy and I’d like to tackle establishing company image and branding very soon. Is there a ‘magic formula’ for finding a reputable company to assist me with this endeavor?”
First off Adriana, congrats on wanting to undertake the branding exercise for your company. Being a former corporate marketing and branding guy, developing a brand platform is one of the most important things any company can do because it creates the foundation from which everything can be built.
Having said that, branding is also one of the toughest things any company can do. The branding mine field is littered with “branding” consultants, “yes we do branding” advertising agencies and many other types of companies — everyone seemingly does branding.
Having hired outside branding consultants and agencies while working at Disney, PUREBEAUTY and other companies, I can tell you that the number of branding agencies I’ve been impressed with are few and far between. So how do you find the right branding entity to help you?
First, the term branding is so broad and far reaching that one first has to determine what they mean by branding.
So, for the record, let’s assume branding encompasses the following:
1. The development of a brand platform, which generally includes the brand essence, the promise to the customer, and the brand personality traits among other things. It’s the foundation upon which a company is built.
2. The development of the company story and messaging to key audiences (how the brand communicates what it is).
3. The development of the brand in a visual manner, which includes the development of a logo, color palette, fonts, etc.
Now having said that, you need to find someone who can do all of this (insider tip: numbers one and two above are usually done by branding agencies while number three is typically done by a design agency. While there are companies that can do all of the above, finding a reputable company that can do it all without costing a fortune is tough).
Here are three different ways you can go about branding your company and the issues associated with them:
1. The designer as brander. Designers typically create identities — establish logos, color palettes, font types, etc. They typically don’t help create brand platforms, the foundation for any company. Beware, you’re only going to get a logo and accoutrements, not a platform on which the foundation of your company can be built.
2. The ad agency as branding agency. Many advertising agencies purport to do branding. And they do. But it usually is a very involved, intensive project that takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Beware, you may get a brand platform but at an exorbitant cost – a cost you probably can’t afford.
3. The branding agency or branding consultant as oracle. There are a million branding consultants, agencies and the like out there. But more often than not you end up with a branding platform that isn’t implementable. It’s so esoteric and full of flowery language that you need a branding consultant to help you figure out what the branding agency created.