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7 Red Flags When Hiring a Branding Agency

branding agency

Choosing the right branding agency for your business should be easy – but, unfortunately, in 2020, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. Dive in to find out why – and how to navigate the thousands of agencies out there to find the right one.

Branding Agencies: Where the Problem Lies

You’ve probably noticed that the title “branding expert” is being adopted faster and in bigger volumes than ever. The challenge with this is that most people who use it are actually designers – which is very misleading because a designer is not qualified to help you build a brand identity that will strengthen your positioning and increase your revenue. They typically only offer design services labeled as branding packages.

Branding agencies are choosing not to stay in their lane because they heard it on the grapevine there’s money in doing branding for clients – which is true. Smart people will pay big bucks for having a powerful brand. However, doesn’t this vaguely remind you of all the people who jumped on the cryptocurrency train when the market was initially up, and as soon as things changed, they never uttered a word about cryptocurrencies again?

There’s nothing wrong with the branding industry growing and flourishing, but not at the expense of the clients who pay for expertise that oftentimes doesn’t exist. Some designers do this without realizing it, but many do it on purpose. The truth is, they don’t plan on having real branding expertise, which is key to serving their clients in the best way possible. This has already led to a disturbing number of people losing money on alleged branding experts and agencies that built them a website before doing any internal branding work and developing a proper identity. Ask to see examples of the brand strategies they’ve done for at least 5 clients. If they can’t show you this, run!

The 7 Red Flags to Look Out for in a Branding Agency

Red flag #1: Their social media presence is non-existent and they don’t publish educational content. This typically means they’re not truly passionate about what they do to the point where they want to help our industry thrive by educating people.

Red flag #2: They can’t demonstrate results in their own business (a brand people care about – e.g. quoting them, inviting the founders to speak at events, getting PR without paying for it) and their website looks like it was made on Fiverr. Why would you trust a  branding agency that hasn’t bothered to implement in their own business what they supposedly do for clients?

Red flag #3: They don’t speak about psychology and neuroscience and link them to persuasion in branding. This means your brand would be built on basic design principles and zero psychology that will help you convert your audience into paying clients.

Red flag #4: The only branding expertise they have is severely limited and only applies to personal branding. This is usually the case because personal branding is the easiest aspect of branding to master – or seemingly master.

Red flag#5: No video testimonials. Text reviews and testimonials are easy to fake, and most agencies won’t go as far as to hire someone to create a video testimonial. Look for those around the site and on their social media accounts! Also, find out if the owners have personal brands where you can also find testimonials.

Red flag #6: The branding agency was operating in a different industry or niche only a couple of months ago and now makes big claims and charges premium prices. This means they most likely didn’t take the time to perfect their craft and just jumped into something new, likely outsourcing everything to people you’ll never meet or communicate to when hiring the agency.

Red flag #7: They have never properly educated themselves on branding and can’t speak to you about famous examples and case studies. You don’t want to be working with someone who hasn’t taken the time to explore branding from every angle and educating themselves on the latest studies and experiments. This is why it’s so important to us that both of our founders have formal branding educati0n from top universities and professors where they studied branding from dozens of different angles before committing to a career in it.

Branding often looks easy because you either think it’s about your visual identity (branding is a logo, right?) or about being present online and repeating the same quotes over and over again.

In reality, it takes very careful planning, an in-depth understanding of psychology and a solid structure, not to mention consistent execution – and very few people have a good grasp on this. Those who do, know exactly how to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way and how to position their business as the obvious leader in their industry – just like our clients and ourselves.

Check out our core brand growth package to find out how we can work together.


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