How to masterly craft an irresistible agency brand identityBy Lawrence Dy
- Claim and verify your Google Business Profile listing to ensure accurate and up-to-date business information.
- Optimize your Google Business Profile to improve your online visibility and search engine rankings.
- Optimize your website for search engines to increase online visibility, drive more traffic, and attract more customers.
As a digital marketing agency, working on your brand might feel like an afterthought. After all, you’re in the business of creating and supporting other brands to gain recognition and achieve their goals. In fact, having a memorable, scroll-stopping agency brand identity is just as important for your business as it is for those you work with.
Download the white-label reputation management sales playbook today and get a rebrandable playbook to close more reputation deals.
Spending the time to craft a powerful identity can make all the difference when it comes to converting more new clients and even boosting your profit margins. If you’re ready to transform your agency’s brand identity from "just okay" to unforgettable, this is the blog post for you.
How does agency brand identity differ from other businesses?
When it comes to developing your agency brand identity, you don’t have to throw everything you know about branding out the window. The basics of what makes a memorable, irresistible brand remain constant, but the specifics of how to apply those principles to the agency business model require some extra consideration.
Let’s explore some unique challenges presented by agency branding, along with solutions for how to navigate them.
Images are powerful conveyors of information, and they play a major role in brand identity. However, depending on which services your digital marketing agency specializes in, representing your “product” visually may be challenging. Businesses that make a physical good can display images or videos of their product, but as a marketing agency, it can be difficult to show rather than tell clients the value of working with you.
Think about what the value of your agency’s solution are, and how best to translate those into a visual medium. For example, let’s say your agency specializes in search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign. The value of your offering might be the increased traffic to your client’s website or an impressive boost to their monthly revenue. You could represent this through eye-catching infographics or bite-sized testimonial videos.
Your digital agency might offer a wide range of solutions. In particular, if you’re in the process of scaling your agency through the use of white-label platforms, you might have a robust suite of solutions under your brand that make it difficult to convey your offering succinctly.
To convey complexity without bogging down your brand identity and confusing your audience, think in terms of your ideal client’s pain points. What are they struggling with? What categories of solutions do you offer that can help? Communicate these broadly, and save the nitty-gritty for conversations and marketing materials later in the sales funnel.
For example, as a full-service marketing agency, you might offer website solutions, SEO, PPC, social media marketing, listings management, and reputation management. That can feel overwhelming to prospects. Instead, distil your offering into easily digestible themes:
- We get you more clients at a lower cost
- We make every product launch a success
- We help new clients discover you online
Like all businesses, you want to differentiate your agency brand from your competitors. However, particularly if you offer branding and web design services, you may need to be extra careful about pigeonholing yourself to one particular style because your own branding represents that style.
You may want to steer clear of a heavily distinctive, stylized brand, because quality potential clients may think you only work in that style, and you won’t be able to ace their design brief. Your aim should be to position your agency as trustworthy, savvy, and capable of handling varied, complex projects.
For other businesses, particularly B2C businesses, identifying the target audience is more straightforward: the end user is the customer. However, for a B2B business like a marketing agency, the audience may include a buyer, cloud computing specialist, CEO/founder, and marketing executive. This makes it more difficult to know who to keep in mind when branding the agency.
Embrace a multi-faceted content marketing approach to boost your agency revenue. Since your target audience may include several types of decision-makers, consider creating unique content marketing assets for each major decision-maker. You can have technical whitepapers ready to go for more technical decision makers, but keep things high-level and easy to understand in your social media infographics.
What makes brand identity harder for agencies?
The very nature of a marketing agency means that constant change is the norm. Technology is always on the move, platforms come and go, and trends cycle in and out of favor. This places a demand on marketing agencies to continually adapt to client needs, which can make it difficult to build a cohesive brand that stands the test of time.
Example: Le Creuset
For example, consider a brand like the French kitchenware manufacturer Le Creuset. Even though they aren’t the only enameled cast iron cookware game in town, their products remain reliably in-demand year after year because their brand is associated with time-honoured heritage and quality.
The same angle just doesn’t work when it comes to a digital marketing agency. Prospects may think: so what if your agency has been around for a long time? How can I know that you’re prepared to deliver meaningful results for my business in today’s digital landscape, which is already different from last year’s?
In practice, this means that change and adaptability need to be built into your agency brand identity. Agency brands have to be a bit more flexible and dynamic than more traditional brands.
Balancing your agency brand identity with client work
To make things trickier still, marketing agencies that offer branding services have the added challenge of maintaining a delicate balance between the agency brand and client brands. It’s not uncommon for agencies to develop a look or style for which they’re known. For example, let’s say your agency specializes in minimalist, premium-feeling brand and website design. It’s important to be aware of your signature without making your projects feel repetitive; in the long run, becoming a one-trick pony can burn leads and hurt your agency’s growth.
Navigating a competitive landscape
The highly competitive digital agency landscape can make it tempting to jump from one trend to the next. However, part of the challenge of building a sustainable, successful agency brand identity is knowing which trends and new developments are right for you to participate in.
You don’t have to do it all, but you do have to stay on the leading edge of your niche or specialty.
How to create a strong agency brand identity
With careful planning and strategic execution, you can create a show-stopping brand identity that elegantly navigates the challenges we’ve looked at so far. Let’s go over the 5 key phases of crafting an unforgettable brand identity for your agency.
Step 1: Conduct a brand audit and analysis
Begin your agency branding process by conducting a thorough brand audit and analysis to understand where you’re starting from (unless, of course, you’re a startup digital agency starting from scratch). This will help you carry forward elements you want to keep, and nix those that aren’t serving the business.
Evaluate your current brand elements, messaging, and market positioning. Consider how your agency is currently perceived in your niche among peers and your target audience.
Step 2: Define your agency’s mission, vision, and values
Having crystal-clear agency mission, vision, and value statements makes it much easier to weather the constantly-changing waters of digital marketing. What purpose that drives your agency? What is its future trajectory? Finally, what core principles and values guide your actions, choices, and work as an agency?
Taking the time to write these statements can help align everyone on your team, and make it easier for new team members to get up to speed. It can also help prospective clients who see their values reflected in your agency. Finally, this step will help you stay on-message when it comes to your brand identity and marketing communications.
Step 3: Develop a compelling brand story and message
We can’t help it: humans love a story. What is it about your agency’s journey, values, and unique qualities that set it apart? Developing a clear and relatively concise brand story can help you quickly convey the essence of your business to prospects.
Step 4: Design a visually appealing, cohesive brand identity
When most people think of brand identity, this is the part they generally have in mind: a logo, color palette, typography, photography style, icons, and other visual elements that make a brand instantly recognizable. By taking the time to go through the above steps, you’ll be well positioned to make sure the visual identity reflects the message and values you want to convey.
It’s also, of course, important to think about your target audience when creating your visual identity. If you know your clients are primarily professional services providers, your agency brand identity will likely have a very different visual signature than if you aim to work primarily with, say, food brands.
Step 5: Implement consistent brand guidelines across all touchpoints
Finally, it’s time to deploy your agency brand identity across all touchpoints—that is, all places where people may encounter your brand. This includes your website, social media profiles, marketing collateral, newsletters, lead magnets, and beyond.
Make sure you stick to the guidelines outline in step 4 for things like logo usage, color codes, and type styles. Distinctive brands are memorable, but consistency is just as significant an ingredient when it comes to brand recognition.
How to rebrand your agency's identity
Thinking your agency brand identity needs a shake up? Even the strongest brands go through periodic refinements and refreshes, so it’s normal to feel that your identity can use a polish (or, in some cases, an overhaul). Follow these tips to make your rebranding a success.
- Identify the need for rebranding: Go through your current brand guidelines and assets and assess your current brand alignment with your agency goals and target audience. You may find inconsistent use of brand elements, a patchwork of different visual styles, outdated elements, and other inconsistencies. Take note of these, and note what is currently working well regarding your agency brand identity, if anything.
- Conduct market research and competitor analysis: Your market may have changed considerably since your last brand design. Get a current view of industry trends, competitor position, and consumer shifts that may have taken place in the intervening period.
- Develop rebranding strategy and timeline: Identify the specific goals of your rebranding, any key messages that you want to convey, and the specific assets that need to be designed. Decide how extensive your agency brand identity design will be.
- Monitor and evaluate your rebranding efforts: Once your rebranding is launched, keep track of related key indicators like brand awareness and perception. Surveys can be a good way to collect feedback from clients, employees, and the public.
Your agency brand identity is the visual and conceptual signature of your business, and it plays an important role in how your agency is perceived. A beautiful, effective brand can draw in your target audience and help you land more clients, even if your core services don’t significantly change.
Investing in your brand identity can feel like a distraction from the more critical work of landing clients and delivering your services, but remember that your brand is just that—an investment. By regularly evaluating and adapting your brand to ensure it’s aligned with your goals, you’ll enjoy the rewards of your effort as your agency grows, thanks to the positive, trustworthy image you convey.