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How to Choose a Branding Agency for Your Business

Lauren shares how to choose a branding agency

Lauren Casgren-Tindall has been creating powerful, innovative designs over the past 15 years. She launched the creative branding and strategy agency Crème de Mint to help business owners harness their unique selling propositions and connect with their target audience through strategic designs. 

 Key Points

Article Summary

Branding is how you create connections with your audience. A branding agency can help ensure that your brand identity is cohesive, strategic, and crafted to suit your specific needs.  But how can you choose a branding agency for your business?

The right agency will:

  • Understand your goals, vision, and values
  • Specialize in creating strategic branding that powers your business
  • Know how to target your audience and position your brand in the marketplace
  • Foster a cohesive and authentic brand narrative that drives business success

What is Branding?

Computer and keyboard with brand identity next to it

Branding is more than a logo–it’s the art and science of crafting a unique identity for a business that sets it apart from competitors and resonates with consumers. 

It encompasses visual elements such as logos, colors, and design, as well as intangible aspects like brand values, personality, and messaging. 

But branding isn’t just what you create or implement–it’s also the emotional connection, feelings, and perceptions that consumers associate with a product, service, or company. 

Effective branding creates a strong emotional connection with customers, builds trust and loyalty, and helps businesses stand out in a crowded marketplace. It plays a vital role in influencing consumer perceptions, driving purchasing decisions, and ultimately contributing to long-term business success and growth.

Why Does “Branding” Really Matter?

Man with many different brands in his hands
  • 81% of consumers need to trust a brand before buying
  • 62% of consumers say brand values influence their purchase decisions
  • 23% increase in revenue—what brands can see from consistent branding across channels

Branding isn’t something you should just leave to chance–it has a real, tangible impact on your business. Consumers will have perceptions and emotions associated with your brand whether you plan for it or not–and strategic branding gives you the chance to control the narrative. 

Cohesive branding creates a visual and online identity for your business, positioning you as unique and ensuring that your brand is memorable and identifiable. 

What Services Do Branding Agencies Offer?

Woman searching to understand how to choose a branding agency

Before you can understand how to choose a branding agency, you need to understand what services you need. Branding agencies offer different services depending on their expertise–and finding the right fit for your business is important. 

Common services offered include: 

Some branding agencies also specialize in other services such as: 

When considering which branding agency to choose, think about the services offered and what you need, both in the short-term and long-term. 

For example, product businesses should choose an agency experienced with consumer packaged goods (CPGs). Crème de Mint is a CPG branding agency specializing in packaging design—we have expertise in physical design and understand how to translate branding into tangible products. 

Why Work With a Branding Agency?

Man at a branding agency talking about why it is important to work with a branding agency

New brands might be tempted to DIY their branding. But it’s important to remember that true branding goes beyond the visual.

When you choose a branding agency, you are also accessing:

  • Insight and research into consumer trends 
  • Knowledge on how to resonate with specific demographics and target audiences
  • An ability to create a strategic, comprehensive brand image, weaving every tiny detail into the big picture
  • Valuable industry expertise and understanding

Industry expertise from an established branding agency can help your brand avoid potential pitfalls. For example, if your brand is a product business, it’s vital that your branding and designs are created with the print and production process in mind. The last thing you want to do is waste valuable time and money only to discover that your designs don’t work with the materials or shape of your package. 

Product businesses in the food and beverage, supplement, and cosmetic industries must also adhere to compliance guidelines in their packaging. Although branding agencies aren’t a substitute for an attorney, a veteran agency specializing in consumer packaged goods can offer valuable insight and will notice if your claims are not compliant or you are missing required information on your labels. 

The Importance of Branding Strategy

Branding agency team in a meeting talking about brand strategy

When you choose a branding agency, you are also placing value on strategy. Agencies don’t just create pretty pictures–they also focus on branding strategy. 

Brand strategy is the deliberate creation of your brand identity, including visuals such as mood boards, along with messaging, tone, and brand voice.

Skipping these steps is like trying to bake a cake without measuring your ingredients. You might be able to wing it, but anyone who tastes it is going to know the difference. You want your brand to communicate integrity, authenticity, and quality from the beginning. 

What to Look for When Choosing a Branding Agency

Business owner researching branding agencies.

Don’t be afraid to shop around and spend time getting to know branding agencies before choosing one. It’s important to look for an agency that:

  • Takes time to understand your vision and values
  • Asks questions and gets a full picture of who you are and what your goals are
  • Has experience and expertise
  • Has a proven portfolio
  • Has a clearly defined process
  • Can provide additional services that you need
  • Understands the importance of brand strategy

How to Choose a Branding Agency for Your Business in 5 Steps

Step 1: Determine Your Service Needs and Budget

Before diving into the search, it’s essential to assess your branding needs and establish a realistic budget. 

What aspects of branding are most important to your business? While you may not be able to tackle everything at once, prioritize key elements such as a compelling logo, packaging design if you run a product business, and branding features that permeate every aspect of your business, such as brand colors, brand voice, and a tagline. 

Be upfront about your budget and understand the full scope of what you require to achieve your branding goals. Communicate honestly about your budget when speaking to agencies.

Step 2: Create a List of Potential Branding Agencies In Your Industry

Now it’s time to create your short list of branding agencies to choose from. Tap into your network for referrals or research agencies that specialize in your industry or have relevant experience. 

Focus on agencies that have a proven track record of success and understand your industry and target audience. 

Step 3: Read Reviews and References

When evaluating potential agencies, positive reviews are important. But it’s even more essential to choose a branding agency that is the right fit for your brand

Look for specific feedback that aligns with your priorities and concerns. Think about what you value most in your relationship with your agency–such as communication, flexibility, creativity, or reception to feedback. Pay attention to what reviews say about these aspects and each agency’s ability to deliver results that resonate with clients’ needs.

Step 4: Check Portfolios

Take a deep dive into each agency’s portfolio to assess the quality and diversity of their work. Has their work received awards or recognitions? Can they create a range of designs? Or does all their work have a similar feel and look? You want to choose a branding agency that showcases versatility and creativity. 

Evaluate whether they have experience in the specific services you require and if they have worked with brands similar to yours, demonstrating their understanding of your industry. For example, if you operate a packaged food business, you need a seasoned branding agency that has worked with other food or beverage brands and understands food packaging design, the materials involved, and the printing processes. 

Step 5: Contact Branding Agencies and Ask the Right Questions

As you check reviews and portfolios, narrow your list down your list to 3-5 contenders–then contact them. 

Ask questions about:

  • Their process
  • Turnaround time
  • Communication expectations
  • The level of involvement required from you
  • The feedback and revision process
  • Billing structures
  • Who will be leading and working on your project

This step is crucial for understanding how well the agency aligns with your needs and preferences.

By following these five steps, you can make an informed decision and choose a branding agency that will effectively elevate your brand and drive your business forward. 

Working With a Branding Agency: The Process

A designer at a branding agency designing a brand identity.

Before you sign a branding agency contract, it’s important to understand their process. This process can vary depending on the agency, but it likely includes the following steps: 

  • Discovery: The agency asks questions, dives into your target audience, and gets to know you, your vision, your goals, and what makes your brand unique.
  • Research: The agency should research competitors, your market, and your target audience to gain insight into how to position your brand to stand out and resonate with consumers. 
  • Creativity/Strategy: During this phase, the agency creates the strategy that lays the foundation for your brand and dictates the design phase. This might include creation of mood boards, design direction, brand voice guidelines, or messaging, depending on the services you choose to invest in. 
  • Design: The agency creates the visual and written elements of your branding, such as logo design, packaging design, website design, or copywriting. 
  • Revision/iteration: The agency welcomes your feedback and makes adjustments before delivering the final files. 

The breakdown of phases is less important than having a clear, defined process. The right branding agency should be able to dictate their process and tell you what to expect at every step. 

What Can You Expect to Pay for Branding? 

Businesses owners in a meeting room talking to a brand agency owner about their pricing.

The cost of branding services can vary significantly depending on factors such as the scope of work and the complexity of the project. 

For smaller businesses or startups, initial branding packages might start at a few thousand dollars, covering essentials like logo design and basic brand assets. 

More comprehensive branding projects, including in-depth market research, strategic brand positioning, and extensive design work, can range from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. Larger corporations or those seeking extensive rebranding efforts may invest even more. 

How Long Does Branding Take? 

Designers at a branding agency working on a branding project.

The turnaround time for branding services can also range widely depending on the scope of the project. The timeline is often dependent on how quickly you provide feedback or make choices. (The more prepared you are to start your project, and the quicker you provide feedback, the faster the services will be finished.) 

Crème de Mint’s branding services take around 4 weeks on average.

A sample project might look like:

Week 1: Mood board creation and client feedback
Week 2-3: Logo and packaging concept creation and client feedback
Week 4: Revisions and adding packaging design and copy to the dieline

What to Expect from a Branding Agency Contract

One often-overlooked piece in knowing how to choose a branding agency is taking a close look at the branding agency contract. 

The contract can reveal valuable insight into the agency you are considering—and it’s vital to know what you should expect from your contract. 

Before signing a branding agency contract, make sure that it includes:

  • The proposed project schedule
  • A detailed scope of the project 
  • A breakdown of deliverables and files (including whether you receive illustrator files)
  • Payment details
  • Information on amount of revisions included
  • Ownership of the designs

You need to know what you’re getting, what you are expected to provide, how quickly to expect turnaround and revisions once you provide feedback, and exactly what you are paying. It’s also vital to understand the ownership of your business assets. If you created your logo using an AI or a platform such as Shutterstock, for example, you likely do not retain ownership rights.

Read your contract carefully before you sign and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  

How Can Working With a Branding Agency Help Your Business Reach Its Goals?

Female business owner happy with her choice in working with a branding agency.

Working with a branding agency can be transformative for your business, building brand loyalty, increasing profits and revenue, and avoiding wasted capital on ineffective marketing and positioning. 

When you choose the right branding agency, your brand can become memorable and build a stronger connection with your target audience, enhancing brand recognition and leading to customer loyalty. 

Ready to kick off a project with an award-winning CPG branding agency

Let’s chat! We love to help you!

About the Author

Lauren shares how to choose a branding agency

Lauren Casgren-Tindall is the founder of Crème de Mint and has been creating powerful, innovative designs and branding over the past 15 years for CPG brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Avon, Juicera, Alkaline Herb Shop, MiSOgood, and Expressed Juice.