You may be wondering who to hire to brand (or rebrand) your company. You have been searching the web, simultaneously asking yourself what quality branding looks like, and which agency is the right one to hire.
The difference in agency sizes
With a larger branding agency you will be working with a team. Maybe you won’t be working with that team directly, but a team will be doing the work for you. You may work with an account manager who will address your questions, give you updates and present designs, but at the end of the day there will be a group of people working together on your brand.
Or working against each other?
The team dynamics in creative marketing are interesting. In most cases you have two or three or more personalities working together on a branding project. And they all want to be recognized for their work. The means that in some way they are competing to deliver the best result possible. Sounds good right? Not necessarily. In my experience, pitting teammates against each other produces incoherent results.
Joe has an idea. Sarah has an idea. Tom has an idea. They get together to decide who’s idea is best. Even with a strong hierarchy and someone leading the branding process, there is going to be less cohesion of ideas. By trying to be fair and inclusive (a good intention) they water down three different great ideas by combining them all into one okay idea. The brand lacks clear direction because each person is put their two cents into the pot.
Have you ever watched an orchestra?
You know how they have a conductor at the front, guiding everyone along? Both the conductor and instrumentalists playing in the orchestra have sheet music. So that they can work together to produce a cohesive, beautiful performance.
That is the ideal.
From experience that this isn’t always the case with branding agencies. Everyone wants to be a soloist. In the last example, the valuable point Sarah was trying to make has been forgotten because Joe raised his hand. None of Tom’s ideas were used for a previous client, so we definitely need to be fair and use one of them now (even if it’s not the best).
Your brand is probably still good, but it’s not great. The process has diluted the final brand and left no compelling emotional hooks. When everyone was spending time trying to be heard they forgot to follow the creative brief. They were just focused on getting their idea into the mix. If any of them want to be promoted at the agency they have to make sure they stay valuable, right?
The word “dilution” is the key.
The more people that handle a request, idea or piece of work, the more that idea, request or piece of work will be watered down, and less effective in the long run.
Just to be fair.
Let me list some of the benefits of larger agencies. Because they have more people large agencies are able to offer more expertise for each aspect of the branding process: design, photography, at direction, copywriting etc. Each person is (usually) a seasoned professional in their field and can provide quality work for the aspects they are responsible for.
Now we’re talking.
If the agency has a history of producing quality work it is likely that they have strong project managers and art directors. These personalities guide the project along and bring out everyone’s best. And larger businesses can usually afford the pricing that the best agencies charge.
But if you are a smaller business…
… then smaller or even one-man agencies may be the right choice. A single talented graphic designer will be able to deliver a cohesive and compelling end product. This is because the entire vision is contained in one mind. There is consistency of look and feel, and a strong direction is able to develop because no other ideas are competing with it.
Small works with small.
Smaller branding agencies are ideal for SMBs. Companies that are trying to grow can benefit more from having a unique brand, which smaller agencies generally offer.
Get the personal touch.
With smaller agencies you can also expect a more personable experience during the branding process. You will be working with the person who is doing the actual hands-on design work. This makes it much easier for your feedback to be applied to your brand.
Applied in effective and thoughtful ways.
Big branding agencies work well for big companies because big companies require more content, more coding, more photography, more copywriting, etc. They need extra hands and minds to do the work in multiple mediums. Small branding agencies are ideal for SMBs because it is more important to have branding that will cut through the noise.
And draw more new quality customers.
Because that is what its all about. If your business has the opportunity to work with a reputable smaller agency, I highly recommend it. You might be surprised at how effective a new unified brand can be ■