Choosing the right branding company can be a daunting task. The problem with the selection process is that every word of mouth, advertising and graphic design company says they are a branding agency.
This of course is not the case. To be a true branding company they must focus on one thing. Branding. Branding is not about media buys, logo designs and direct mail. It is about developing your clients brand and positioning in the market place. Inherently that is where advertising agencies, and graphic design firms fall flat on their face.
A branding company should be about long term strategic thinking concerning their clients brand. Some of the strategies and tactics a branding firm should take is branding research, brand planning, brand branding, brand image and internet branding.
How to choose the right branding company? First do a Google search from the phrase branding company or agency. Then start calling the top results of your Google internet search. These companies have done the things necessary to appear in the rankings or Google has put value on these firms. If it is in the top results they are most likely a good company to work with.
Now that you have narrowed your selection down to say 3-5 agencies start setting up conference calls or meetings. It is nice to hire a local company but by no means is it necessary. In the internet world we are in today dealing with someone in another state is pretty par for the course. Do not dismiss them just because they are far away.
Be prepared for your first conference call or meeting. If they sound like they are really an ad agency, or graphic design company dismiss them immediately. You are looking for a true branding firm. You will know right away as ad agencies will push media spending, graphic design firms will push, well, graphic design work.
Ask them what they do to develop a brand identity and positioning. Follow that up with questions about internal branding and how to go about setting up an internal strategy for brand development. Ask to see samples or case studies of each of these elements. A real branding agency will be able to talk intelligently about internal branding.
Branding research is another area that you may want to focus on. Branding research and branding research are two very different things. When you conduct brand research it is more about understanding how customers and prospects feel about your product or company versus quantitative approaches that branding companies take.
Finally go with your gut instinct. The gut usually tells the story.