Before we chat, there are some things you’ll need to have ready to discuss so that we can get the most out of our conversation together (and to check we’re the right fit for your requirements):
If answering any of these is a little tricky or you’re not sure why we’re asking, we have some more detail for you below.
Here are our essential five questions:
What are the commercial drivers behind the branding brief? Has there been, or is there upcoming, merger and acquisition activity; has there been an organisational change within the business; has the market or competition changed and you need to update; etc.?
Knowing these will help the agency focus their response on creating genuine and measurable business impact. It will also help them think beyond the immediate brief, using their experience across other clients with similar needs to ensure everything they do connects up to what your business is doing.
(If you don’t know what these are, they’ll usually be part of business strategy documents and board presentations).
These should really align to the commercial objectives and be easy to construct based on what the business is looking to achieve – how do you intend to measure the success of the brand work? What are the specific KPIs?
Measurable, specific and realistic KPIs are crucial for agencies to be able to provide a specific and accurate proposal – and then ultimately measure the success of the brand work. By leaving them out, you’ll likely find it hard to compare proposals between agencies.
We recognise that putting a budget figure down in writing can feel like a self-defeating measure (i.e. those sneaky agencies will all come in £500 less than your stated ceiling amount.) But, just like buying a house or a car, a clear budget provides agencies the parameters to respond accurately – there’s no point in your estate agent suggesting a six-bed penthouse in Chelsea if the budget allows only for a two-up-two-down in Grimsby.
So knowing your budget helps the agency determine the scope and scale of the response so they can get to a better, more accurate answer, faster.
Agencies will typically bracket costs into development (the discovery, brand strategy and brand creative identity), the production (creating the actual brand assets and deliverables), and then activation (allocation for launching the new brand to internal and external audiences).
One option is to put a budget range. And it can have some decent flex in it. For example, if you said you had an all-in brand budget of £150k-£300k, that still gives the agencies enough information to respond with meaningful detail, and you’re actually more likely to get good value for money.
Another option is to give three specific budgets to specifically cost up against (Good, Better, and Best), so the agencies can demonstrate how their response scales and aligns accordingly – for example £150k, £300k and £500k.
As well as deadlines for when the new brand needs to go live, it’s also important to share the agency selection and project commencement dates.
So are there any stakeholder expectations or deadlines? Any big internal or industry events you need to align to? Key product or service launches? And what’s governing these and are they flexible?
Agencies are time and resources based. So it’ll save you a lot of time by putting in deadlines, as some agencies move faster than others, whereas some have fuller workloads and fewer people able to start immediately.
And as urgent as the work might be, ‘ASAP’ isn’t a massively helpful answer, unfortunately – as that could mean tomorrow for one business, or next year for another.
If timings haven’t been set in stone yet, feel free to discuss with the agency what reasonable timings could look like, ones that work well for both parties.
We all have them, right? The things that just have to happen or have to be in the bill of materials. These could range from “The CEO is desperate for a new brand video” to “We have a load of good content already – we’ll need to work out how to repurpose that first”.
Detailing these upfront will result in better agency responses, and you’ll be able to see clear as day how agencies can tackle the mandatories (or indeed, if they genuinely can tackle them). Hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.