At almost every conference I speak at, I invariably receive inquiries about helping a company develop a new logo. As a self-described brand marketing firm, I understand this natural assumption but often have to educate potential clients on the finer distinctions that make up my category of company.
Whether you’re looking to develop a new business brand, rebrand an existing company, or focusing on building a personal brand, understanding the five main types of brand marketing firms and knowing which ones suit you best can save you from false starts, unnecessary spending and wasted time.
#1. Brand Identity Specialists. Brand identity includes the name, logo, tagline, typeface and colors that shape a brand. Companies that specialize in brand identity are often headed by graphic designers, artists and other creative types who know how to translate your brand into powerful visual messages. These firms often design websites, as well, but don’t necessarily do the back-end programming to create the site. For those looking at building a personal brand, these firms can create one sheets, media kits and other collateral for promoting thought leadership.
#2. Internet Marketing Firm. Also called online marketing firms, these companies focus on using the Web and email to create sales leads. Depending on the specialty of the firm, they can be experts at Facebook advertising, LinkedIn campaigns, retargeting ads, organic SEO, Google AdWords and other related activities.
#3. Brand Strategist. If you’re looking for a company to create a roadmap of how you can bring your brand to its desired future state, this may be the brand marketing firm for you. Brand strategists focus on assessing the current state of the market, competitive analysis and developing your brand messaging and determine the best tactics to put your brand out into the world.
#4. PR Firms. These are the traditional public relations agencies that offer press releases, media placement and pitches to radio, TV, newspaper and magazine producers as a way of building your brand.
#5. Agencies/Brand Implementation. Coming up with a strategy is one thing, but implementing it is another. These types of firms tend to be one-stop shops and offer a wide range of services from brand identity and message development to website creation and even PR. One note: If you are looking at building a personal brand (i.e., CEO, thought leadership or executive brand), make sure the firm you choose has expertise and experience in this.
There isn’t one right type of brand marketing firm, but there is the one that’s right for you. I get countless calls weekly from well-meaning business owners who complain that they’ve spent their hard-earned money on firms that did not produce the desired result. Fortunately, this is preventable by thinking through the type of firm you need before signing your name on the dotted line.