Hiring a branding consultant can be scary. You are hiring a company to capture your vision, hopes, and dreams for your business. So it’s important to hire a good one. And to create a long-term relationship, for any ideas or strategies you want to explore in the future.
We asked Michael Marsland-Root, Owner and Creative Director of Red Five Design about how to find the right consultant for your business, and how to maintain that relationship.
Finding a Brand Consultant
The best way is the oldest – referrals. Make a list of companies in the local market whose branding you like and simply ask them who they hired. “I have found that most companies, regardless of their size, are happy and willing to take a phone call and help out a small business who is doing some research,” says Michael. You’ll be surprised how helpful most businesses are from this forward and frank approach.
Three Things to Look for in a Branding Consultant
- Online Portfolio. “Every branding consultant should have a current portfolio that is viewable online,” says Michael. “After all, how can they market your business in this digital world, if they don’t market themselves well?” Once you’ve found their portfolio, look at it in detail. Look up the clients listed and see how the branding was implemented. You may find that they have changed their branding again or even gone out of business. Either way it is a signal that something has gone wrong in the relationship.
- A Consultant that Listens More Than Talks. “You will be able to tell on the very first phone call whether or not the consultant is willing to invest in getting to know you and your business,” says Michael. “You will either feel that you are being broadcast to, or that you have found a real partner who is genuinely interested in your business.”
- Current References. “Ask for current references. I know that everyone tells you to call them, but few rarely do,” says Michael. However, it’s an important step. Of course, the consultant will choose the best comments for their website, but by speaking to current clients, you will find what they thought of the overall experience. “If the consultant has happy clients, they will have no problem in providing email addresses and phone numbers for them. In fact, they’ll be eager to,” he says.
Establishing a Relationship with Your Brand Consultant
Open communication is key when establishing your relationship with any consultant, especially when it comes to marketing. It is important for them to understand you, your business and your goals. Michael takes us through his initial consultation with his clients.
- Listen to the Client. “I find out all I can about their business and their goals, both immediate and long term. This helps me understand what needs to happen and how to proceed,” says Michael.
- Create a Schedule of Deliverables. After the initial talk, schedule a list of the deliverables you have decided upon and that need to be created. This can include things like a logo, business card, website, event launch, etc.
- Written Quotes. Once the schedule of deliverables has been made, written quotes need to be provided and agreed upon. Once you’re happy, a deposit should be made before work is started.
Getting the Most Value from Your Brand Consultant
There’s no doubt you’ll be excited about starting the branding process. You have a million and one ideas, or maybe you have no ideas and just excited to for someone to capture your vision. But it’s important to break the process down into small chunks. “When I meet a client, we look over the ‘nice-to-have’ plan and the essentials,” says Michael. “Within each plan are small projects. Each project cost is shown to the client so they can decide what pieces fit within their budget.” He emphasizes that that if this is all reviewed before beginning any work there should be no fears of escalating costs, which is why this is an important step in the relationship.
And for an idea of the price? It’s probably less than you think. “For us we charge $500 plus GST for a complete logo design, including all consultations, phone calls, three creative concept rounds and final artwork creation,” says Michael. Although, he does pride himself on being a competitive price in the market.
If you want to get the most value however, it’s all about preparation. “Spend a little time online and gather a folder of brand images, logos, marketing pieces and brochures that you like and don’t like,” says Michael. “It’s a very efficient way for us to quickly identify elements that you would like to incorporate into your brand. Most of the time business owners aren’t even consciously aware of the fact that they have a very clear idea of what they want their brand to be.”
Ask the Expert
Michael is Small Business BC’s resident branding expert in our “Ask an Expert” series. For just $40 you can book a 45 minute appointment with him to ask for tips and ideas of how to start building your brand. The service is available both in person and via Skype and will give you a great taste of the types of advice and services that he provides.
Book your appointment online today.