Welcome, 2019! Thanks to the holiday break, we find ourselves with energized momentum that will motivate us in the new year. You may be ready to take a fresh look at your law firm’s branding and have dedicated a budget for the undertaking. But where to start?
Partnering with a branding agency is a significant investment of time and money, and finding the right partner is critical to the project’s success. To help get you started, we have outlined six things that you should consider when evaluating branding agencies for your law firm.
- Identify Your Challenges and Goals. Before beginning your search for branding agencies, have your goals clearly outlined and identify what is most critical to your law firm’s success. Are you refreshing your brand image, launching new services or expanding into new markets? Is there increased competition or a decline in year-over-year profits? By identifying these challenges, you can help narrow your branding agency search to those who have experience delivering on your unique goals.
- Do Your Homework. Before sending out project proposals to various branding agencies, take a moment to tap into your resources for preliminary evaluations. Agency search sites like Agency Spotter are a great resource to narrow your search for potential partners, helping to pair your goals with agencies who have experience delivering relevant results. You can also turn to your professional network for recommendations, talking with colleagues who have experience with a branding agency or searching for reviews via social platforms (i.e, LinkedIn). Plan to evaluate between three to five agencies for branding projects to get a good mix of capabilities and ideas.
- Check the Chemistry. Once you have identified potential agency partners and have sent out proposals for them to complete, the chemistry check begins. These initial interactions with a potential partner help demonstrate how a working relationship would function. How responsive are they to emails or phone calls? Do they seem excited about the project? Are they asking the right questions? Start evaluating the agency with the first communication and make note if this dynamic changes throughout the selection process.
- Evaluate Their Process. You know your business inside and out; but it’s likely a branding agency will not. To evaluate whether they could be a branding partner for your law firm, it’s critical for the prospective agency to truly delve into your business and not just tout their capabilities. Will they conduct client interviews or audit your competitors? Are they requesting sales information or past marketing examples? Do they recommend putting brand directions in front of focus groups before going to market? By understanding the steps the agency takes in learning your business and developing ideas, you can start to see how they arrive at brand recommendations. You want to partner with an agency that uses both qualitative and quantitative data to drive brand strategy and creative execution.
- Review Case Studies and Talk to References. Spend time reviewing case studies that a prospective partner provides as an insight into their process and subsequent success. A common mistake when selecting a branding agency is eliminating a partner due to lack of experience in your vertical. A great branding agency will learn the critical elements of your business and will provide unique positioning for you to own. When evaluating case studies, look at the quality, range and diversity of work, regardless of the industry. Be sure to request references to learn more about the client-agency relationship. You want a partner to bring you great ideas, not an order-taker who tells you what you want to hear!
- Don’t Settle for the B-Team. Some branding agencies will send in their top employees for pitch presentations; however upon winning the account, they stick you with their B-squad. To avoid this, take note of the size of the agency and their current client roster. Ask the agency if they would need to hire staff to work on your project or if it would be handled by current employees. If you are a smaller firm, consider partnering with a similar sized branding agency who will dedicate resources to your project and adhere to the timeline.
Finding the right branding agency partner should not be an uphill battle. By clearly outlining your law firm’s goals and priorities, you help lay the foundation for a successful branding campaign. Be sure to evaluate branding agencies with an open mind and explore ideas that may be different from past executions. Remember, this investment could last for 5-10 years, so partner with an agency you trust to deliver results!