If you run a or are a leader in a business today of any size, then you must understand branding, especially what its implications are in the year 2020 and what that means for your business.
Today, customers are the most knowledgeable they’ve ever been, at times knowing more about the solution you’re offering them than some of your employees. More than ever before they are also conscious of what they purchase and the brands they buy from.
So as a business or stakeholder in a business, it is important to not only understand a brand, but how it can potentially benefit your business.
As Brand Expert Marty Neumeier says, a brand is your customer’s gut feeling about your business, products, services. In essence, it is how people perceive everything that concerns your business.
So if the power (so to speak) to interpret lies in your customers’ hands, then crafting a brand that they connect with, must be one of your top priorities.
So then how do you work to build such a brand? What we’ve discovered in our work with businesses of all sizes is that stakeholders in various companies understand their business very well, the trends, competitors, industry etc. However, when it comes to branding the business they fall short in how they want the brand represented. This is where a good branding and creative agency can come in.
Determining the right branding agency to partner with is quite important, as it means the smooth sailing or a huge dent in your business growth plans.
We’re going to share qualities to look out for when determining the right agency to partner with.
Also, check out our post on Why FCMG brands in Nigeria Struggle and How You Can Overcome it
When selecting a company to work your brand, it is important to select a branding and creative agency that not only has the wherewithal to take your brand and business to the next level but one that has the ‘heart’ to stick with you for the long term (while some companies may not care about working with branding agencies that go the distance with them, that quality shows a dedication to your long term goals (an important part of brand-building).
That said when looking for a branding and creative agency in Nigeria, you must look for:
An in-depth understanding of the process of branding is key. An article on pulse.ng spoke about challenges confronting brands who are aiming to successfully advertise in Nigeria. One of the challenges was the lack of ’true experts’ in the field. Just because a ‘brand expert’ or branding agency has 100k followers on Instagram doesn’t mean they are truly knowledgeable. When partnering with a branding and creative agency, ask questions. Who have they worked with in the past? What were the results of the work done? Did it align with the business’ long term goals? How familiar are they with in-depth research, brand strategy, brand architecture, nomenclature, and building a brand story. All of that with the expertise to bring it all to life visually in a creative way that makes people go ‘wow’, provide a strong basis for your decision on the branding agency to go with.
What I’ve discovered in the branding and creative industry in Nigeria today is that process is lacking
What I’ve discovered in the branding and creative industry in Nigeria today is that process is lacking. Be it in an interview with a UX/UI Design job candidate or examining branding done for a company, the creative process always seems to be amiss in some cases.
When looking for a branding agency to work with, you must ensure they understand the creative and strategic aspects of the branding process. Some people narrow it down to just the visual aspect of representing a business, others might look into the non-tangible strategic parts, producing weak visuals, others just do a logo for you and call it a day.
An in-depth branding process should begin with a divergent view of all relevant stakeholders, in other words before any work is done, a considerable amount of time should be spent taking in information. Focus areas are your business, your competition and the industry (you may want to look at the global market in addition to the local market), and last but certainly not the least, your customers.
A good process begins with in-depth research and seeks to find a sweet spot where your customers have a gap and where your business uniquely answers to that gap. (See image below)
3. Trust (The Relationship Factor)
In speaking to my point earlier about seeking an agency with a long term view, a mutual trust must exist between you and the agency working on your brand. I say this because the best relationships with clients are the ones where the client trusts that the agency has their best interest at heart always. If there’s anything I strive for in our agency’s dealings with businesses, this is it. I find it’s critical because there’s always a trepidation from businesses letting an external body come into the business to analyze and give their opinion on your brand. However, if in searching for the best agency to work with, you give priority to how conversations go between the 2 parties and the alignment of values (I like to call this, ‘The Relationship Factor’), then you can decide upfront how the partnership will go in the long term. This enables you to make a good decision about who to work with. The right relationship with you and the agency allows them give a fresh perspective on your brand without prejudice, and also allows you accept what they’re saying without doubting that they have an agenda or their expert level. A creative agency with a long term view of partnership and a working relationship built on trust allows a firm footing as you launch to evaluate or build a strong position for your brand in the world.
Benefits and value you should expect when working with a good branding and creative agency (in Nigeria):
1. A strong brand strategy, strong positioning and engaging brand story
If you don’t already have these when working with a branding agency, and depending on your brief to them and other factors, you should expect a strong brand strategy, one that shows where you uniquely stand in the market, how you should communicate with customers, and most importantly that helps you build your own unique brand story, one that your target customers would naturally buy into.
You should also expect consistency in every aspect of your brand that has been worked on, in the non-tangibles, such as messaging, emotional, function benefits, positioning, and in the tangible aspects such as colors, font choices, logo, tagline and so on. Every aspect should feel like a part of a unified whole regardless of the platform or form it takes. Consistency in a brand’s engagement with customers not only ensures that you’re passing across a true and undiluted message at every touchpoint, it ensures that customers buy into the message and develop loyalty in the long term.
3. Well-designed tangible expressions of your brand
I have spoken to this already, but the tangible expressions on your brand should get a ‘wow’ response from the people that engage with it, be it, employees or stakeholders. Famed Graphic Designer Milton Glaser (who also designed the ‘I Love NY’ logo) is known for quoting, there are 3 responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser.
There are 3 responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for. - Milton Glaser
This is why we’re all in business right? if the results in the immediate short term are ‘wow’, to the results of your branding exercise, the subsequent and long term results should be leads, conversion, and sales. I know this because I’ve seen it happen when branding has been done right. It turns strangers into fans and turns customers into advocates. People have made decisions to purchase a product from a brand because they had a great experience with a part of that brand, be it an ad with a compelling message on social media or a beautifully designed packaging. Any and every part of a brand’s touchpoint can be a point of entry for new business from customers, and choosing the right branding and creative agency helps you achieve that.