Branding is something an organisation of any size needs but the complexity of how it is managed will vary hugely from one business to another. Understanding how branding strategies and business strategies need to be closely aligned is pivotal to achieving your long term objectives. Sadly most don’t understand what branding truly means, a narrow minded and uneducated view that it is merely a logo, brochure, a vehicle wrap and a website for example. Yes, it incorporates all of these, but the truth is brand is a far, far bigger concern. It’s an important business component and it needs to be discussed at board level and carefully managed at all times.
When should I hire a brand consultancy?
There are a lot of factors that will determine when you should hire a brand consultancy; here are just a few possible scenarios:
- The business objectives and overall vision has shifted
- It is imperative that you stand out in your sector
- You are a start up
- There are multiple brands in your portfolio that you need to manage better
- There is a new product or service being introduced to your existing folio
- You’ve lost market share in your category
- A merger / acquisition is happening
- A recent MBO has been completed and the new ownership want to make wholesale changes to the business
- Internally staff don’t feel valued and/or understand the true vision of the brand
- The board (and or investors) want to increase business and/or product value
- The in-house marketing resource lacks real brand expertise and needs direction
- Communications have become disjointed and your audience has become confused
- You don’t know what your customers truly feel about you
Can we manage the brand ourselves?
It is possible for businesses to manage elements of the brand themselves but even the biggest companies in the world still hire brand consultancies. No doubt you’ve watched the news when global companies reveal a new logo and it has been given a £100K price tag. The reality is, the logo never actually cost that much, it’s what happens behind the scenes and everything else that makes up the brand as a whole, is why rebrands can cost so much and why the costs vary from one brand to another, we’ll do another article about this soon. It is feasible for an existing brand manager or marketing team to conduct research internally to form part of the strategic insight required to conduct a thorough brand review, but there will always come a point in time where a business will need to engage a brand consultancy. What level of support a brand consultancy will provide is driven by the budget, scale of the organisation, its overall business objectives and the available marketing resources internally that can help. A consultancy like us can flex its muscles up or down according to the needs of the client. For example, we often work closely alongside the key stakeholders of the business and deliver a brand strategy, communications strategy and implement all the necessary creative that goes along with that across every touchpoint. We sometimes work alongside in-house marketing teams and key stakeholders to simply lead on the brand strategy and then adopt a more supportive role for when marketing team are implementing their campaigns and communications with all their chosen agency partners.
An outside perspective
The people within the business are very important and play a pivotal role in the overall brand/business success, so getting them to create it or manage the brand effectively can be financially beneficial but challenging at the same time. This is not always the case, but often you’ll find they’ll be influenced by too many factors internally and therefore their recommendations may be swayed. Politics, ambition and resentment can all influence an employee’s point of view of a brand, so opting to engage a branding consultancy like Frost will give your board, and the wider team, impartial strategic advice that you can have full confidence in. Engaging a third-party always gives a fresher perspective on things and delivers greater clarity for the brand and its communications, as we have no personal attachment to anyone or anything in the business. Our recommendations will be insight led, factual and non biased. This, in turn, helps the board eradicate any internal staff and/or process issues whilst the transformation of the brand for an external customer facing perspective is delivered. This means everything internally and externally is working harmoniously.
Experience and knowledge
Brand strategists and senior level marketing experts or creatives cost a pretty penny, so unless you are business spending in excess of £40 – £50K per year, at the very least, for a seasoned brand professional with many years of experience under their belt, the reality is your team will lack the right level of experience to manage your brand and communications effectively. You might get a reasonable strategist, an ideas-driven creative or an enthusiastic general allrounder but you’ll almost certainly need to hire an agency to deliver high quality creative, to deliver a strategy or deliver marcomms that hit the mark. Your outlay on a salary for the one or two individuals would certainly go further by working with an agency like us in some instances. You’ll get the combined input of an entire expert team, rather than one or two individuals fighting fires. We are not saying hiring internally is not recommended, it is a sign of growth, but it should not be seen as a means to save costs on external fees because you’ll still need to spend more on effective brand communications as you grow and want to continue succeeding. An internal team can only deliver so much and even the biggest brands in the world with a marketing team of 10-12 people working for one department still needs support from agencies. We become an extension of your team, working with you not for you.
The input of an entire team, not just an individual
Working with an agency gives you access to a wide range of skillsets from a team that work together effectively and efficiently. A strategic and creative team will deliver the brand strategy, design and messaging all in one and deliver it as a well-considered package, managed more effectively. Internally, a marketing manager may decide to embark on a campaign or plan that is not necessarily the right one for the brand in the long term, as a simple quick fix to an internal challenge. We, on the other hand, would listen, understand the needs of the board and offer various scenarios or solutions to the challenge that wouldn’t impact the brand long term. It is often the short term financial wins that do the most damage to a brand longer term and often these happen because a board want more leads and more revenues faster. Everything a brand does needs to be carefully evaluated, managed and constantly fine-tuned to stay on track.
The best, honest advice without the fluff
Rarely can a business employ someone who has the depth of knowledge to support your business, within one role. A board needs an external partner to help guide and keep them focused. Generally people with the right experience and successes under their belt will be running their own agencies or operating as a consultant. Our team has extensive experience to help support key business decisions; we’re not just here to deliver on design or copy. Although clients tell us we’re pretty good at that too. With Frost you will always get a transparent, honest assessment of your brand communications and business. We’ll tell you how it is and how it could be better and then help you and your team to make it better.
We’ll challenge your team’s current thinking if you want. It is very difficult for an employee, let alone a new starter, to challenge the thinking of an entire business. Chances are, they’ll be keen to please which may mean going along with decisions and processes so as not to upset the management. Although we aim to please, we will certainly challenge a decision or thinking when we don’t believe it is in the brand’s best interest.
Is hiring a brand consultancy right for me?
Only you can answer this question. If what has been said in this article resonates, then you’re probably ready to start having conversations with an agency like us. The benefits far outweigh those of letting the internal team manage everything. If you want a strategic approach and to have a team that will hold you accountable for mis-managing the brand, to keep it focussed, then you should speak to an agency. If you’re looking to acquire a single skill-set, perhaps a marketing campaign planner, a content writer or a copywriter, then hire an individual. But, if you’re looking to vastly improve what you do and get the right level of support and advice that will change your business and keep the brand on track, then a brand and communications consultancy is what you need.