Your brand isn’t just about what it is, but how it’s developed and what it does to maintain itself. And that is no easy task. Successful and sustainable brands invest in branding assistance whether or not it’s in-house or agency branding. Read on to see whether or not your company branding strategy would benefit from in-house branding, agency branding, or maybe even a bit of both.
Say you thought up or created a really useful and totally unique product or service. Perhaps you developed an alternative version of something that already exists. Whether or not the product or service is original or an adaption it’s your company branding that will make the difference for its survival. Think about T-Mobile, a household name when it comes to cellular companies despite there being an extensive list of other companies and competitors. What did they do to become the brand they are?
The company has a clear understanding of their brand when it comes to communication and its belief. They know their audience and figured out a way to make themselves different from the competition. This difference comes from its aesthetic, to who they target as their audience, and understanding what that audience wants. Your brand needs to do the same plus more. For instance, Sarah Moriarty from Blinkist believes that the best branding is done in-house.
The key to building a cohesive brand is starting with your own team! If you can get every team member in your company on the same page when it comes to what your brand is, how it feels & sounds, and why they should believe in it, then this understanding will trickle into every project that's built and developed. You can achieve this through clear brand guidelines, interactive brand workshop sessions, and practical toolkits that speak to real tensions and challenges. This is the fundamental first step in translating your brand vision to all customer touch points. -- Sarah Moriarty, Director of Brand Marketing at Blinkist.
Read more tips from top brand managers.
That said, all brands are unique and require different types of help. Time and labor is a major consideration when it comes to branding. A lot of the time there isn’t enough resources in-house for the job to be done right. Maybe your brand can be complex and bringing in a new team of people would just make things even more complicated than they already are. There are certainly benefits to both in-house or agency company branding, but with those benefits come with the cons.
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The pros to working with an in-house team means it’s easier to communicated with people face-to-face. This means quicker decisions and less chances for misinterpretation. Developing you brand in-house also means less explaining. Your employees have already been trained to live and breathe your brand and share a cultural connection. In some cases, they’re the very best people to support and share the brand. Having a company with individuals or teams on the same wavelength provide a certain amount of stability and consistency. Two factors that are crucial to the success of any brand.
With this in mind, limiting your company to in-house branding could also result is some less than optimal situations. That very person or team that’s working on your branding could quite frankly, just get bored and lack inspiration to create something new. Also, sometimes your best cheerleaders can become blind to everything, but the brand they’re supporting. Not being able to see your brand from an outside perspective will result in missed opportunities for necessary changes or innovation. Sometimes shake-ups are needed to take a brand that extra step further.
In-house branding allows your team to be more versatile. Employees can perform different tasks and can be paid at their normal salary. This removes the headache of extra budgeting and can encourage your team to strengthen their own skills that could also be used in the future. With flexibility comes more situations of accountability though. Your team may be able to set their own processes, but this can be contingent on working with other departments and depending on their workflow to get something done.
The benefits of working with an agency are undeniable in that you’ll have skilled people on hand to work with and not have to bother trying to train someone in house. Think developer, designers, or marketers all already with previous experience and a broader skillset. With that experience comes more exposure to different ideas or methods to apply to your brand. Since agencies work with on multiple different projects their teams can bring news ideas and provide fresh perspectives.
Bringing in an agency to help with your branding can be a less desirable option. Since it’s a new person or team of individual you’ll have to bring them up to speed with what your brand is and has done so far. Picking an agency with experience in your industry is a given. Working with an agency also comes at price, not only are you responsible for paying for their service, but certain tasks like redesigns can be costly.
Agency branding is an easy solution for companies with funding who find themselves with little time and not enough people in their own team to focus on branding. Agencies have the wherewithal to set up their own processes, keep to schedules, and reduce costs where possible with minimal guidance from you. They’ll also have the expertise to provide constructive feedback about your brands current state and help develop it further.
Remember, there is no right or wrong option when it comes to company branding and you can always incorporate a little bit of both. The benefits of having an internal employee working with an agency could mean having someone to make sure that external agency doesn’t stray from the message of your brand. In the end your brand should reflect what your company values with the assistance of outside help.
There are various pros and cons regardless if you decide to move forward with in-house or agency branding. It’s important to decide which factors weigh the most heavily when it comes to your brand and how you want to work with it. In other words, the main point is to be confident in selecting the option that matches your current circumstances best.