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Brand Agency: Specialist or Jack of All Trades?

June 01, 2016 | By Cheri Keith

  • A branding initiative is a major project for any b-to-b organization
  • External partners provide a beneficial outside-in perspective
  • Project scope is critical in deciding which type of agency to use

Brand projects are major milestones for b-to-b organizations of all sizes. Changing the company’s public-facing image can be both exhilarating and scary for those involved. To further complicate matters, a brand agency is almost always involved in this type of project for the benefit of its expertise in this specialized area. A b-to-b leader must find the best partner for this unique initiative, considering the amount of time, resources and budget these projects can consume.

Brand Agency Specialist Jack of All Trades

One question that comes up frequently is whether to use an agency that specializes in brand development and rebranding projects or one that includes brand as part of a broader suite of marketing services. While this question comes up frequently when marketers talk about hiring agencies across marketing, sales and product functions, it is particularly important when it comes to brand, because brand is a specialization. For example, when a new corporate name is created, that name must be put through legal review and tested for translation into other languages. Trademark processes need to be launched, and Web site and social properties must be secured. If you find yourself in this scenario, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Scope of brand project. Think about what will be delivered as part of this brand project. Is it a simple logo redesign or a rationalization of visual assets? Or is it a full brand strategy that goes all the way through package and product design? Branding and rebranding projects often have many components, so it is important to clearly define what the project requires. This will help inform your discussions with potential brand partners and help you determine if an agency has all the capabilities you’ll need for the project.

  • Budget. Consider your budget for the brand project. Traditional brand agencies adhere to strict methodologies when taking on projects and thus have less flexibility when it comes to cost customization. On the other hand, agencies that have other offerings tend to be more willing to streamline parts of the brand project in order to get into your budget range.

  • Brand activation. Determine which channels will be used to activate the new brand – e.g. Web sites, sales trainings or digital advertising. If activation will include internal resources or other external agencies, carefully orchestrate transitions and training to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Make sure you ask potential agencies about their experience and capabilities in ensuring smooth transitions throughout the project.

Deciding which type of agency is required for the project is a critical step in the agency selection process. Brand projects come with significant expectations and take a tremendous amount of effort, so you want to ensure you have the best partner at your side to guide you through the process and create an impactful brand. Have you used other considerations in a recent branding or rebranding project? If so, please share them in the comments section.

Cheri Keith

Cheri brings more than a decade of marketing experience to SiriusDecisions’ Demand Services team. Her background includes experience serving b-to-b organizations at communications agencies and tenure working within marketing organizations. She is a respected and results-oriented leader with a proven track record of moving people and programs forward. Follow Cheri at Twitter.com/@Cheri29