Branding & Web
Number 1

Three ‘R’s of hiring a creative agency

Annabel Gilbert, Partner from Impact Marketing, guides you through selecting a creative agency in the first of our series of guest blog posts from the world of design and marketing.

If you’re ready to embark on a new design project whether it’s new packaging, a logo re-design or a complete brand overhaul, you will be looking for a creative agency and there are a plethora of agencies out there to choose from, but which one? Here are 3 tips to help you find ‘the one’:

Research

Whether you have been contacted directly by an agency touting for your business, or you’re starting the process of looking for one yourself, do your research! Take a look at their website and client list and check you like what you see. Ask them if they have done work for clients in your industry or aimed at your target market. If they have already come up with design you like for other clients, the chances are they will for you too.

Recommendation

If a creative agency has received testimonials from happy clients you’ll find them on their website, on Twitter or Facebook. It’s also worth contacting their clients directly to find out if they were happy with the work they received. Talk to business associates and friends about agencies they have worked with and ask for their honest opinions, you’ll get some fantastic information that will help you narrow down your shortlist.

Rapport

Finally, go with your instinct on this – if you find them easy to talk to, enthusiastic and receptive to your questions, it’s a pretty good start. Any successful creative outcome is reliant on good communication between both parties, so before you make your decision ask for what the marketing world call a ‘chemistry meeting’, that’s an informal chat to the rest of us!

Any successful creative outcome is reliant on good communication between both parties

Use it as an opportunity to ask questions about how they work and be upfront about what you’re looking for in return; mention your timescales, budget, goals etc and use it as an opportunity to see if you can work with them. It goes without saying that you should like what you hear, but even if they seem to be saying all the right things, if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at this stage it doesn’t bode well for the future.

If you’ve found the right creative agency for your business the design process should be an enjoyable one, have confidence in your decision and get started!

Check out our projects

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Two way sign

How to rebrand successfully

Making changes to your brand can be a risky business. Just look what happened when Coke attempted their image change in 1985, cue u-turn, and Royal Mail attempted to dress up in a sexier outfit and call themselves ‘Consignia’? – The result was that the attempt was *ahem* consigned to the cutting room floor. So why did these rebrands fail and what do you have to do to ensure that your rebrand is a success? 

Do your research and create a rationale for your rebrand

One of the most important things you have to do when deciding whether or not to rebrand is to do your research. A re-brand should not be a kneejerk reaction to a competitor’s move (i.e. Coke’s 1985 disaster when they panicked about the Pepsi challenge) or an isolated internal decision that has not sought the opinion of all stakeholder groups (Royal Mail – Consignia case).

Don’t forget your existing customers. Who are they? What do they like about you? What do they feel you are doing well? What do they think you need to improve upon?

You must look at the marketplace you are operating in, where are you in terms of the competition? Where do you want to recruit new customers, how many are there, who are they, what do they want? Why do they want your product and service, what can you offer that others don’t? Really get to know them and what makes them tick.

Don’t forget your existing customers. Who are they? What do they like about you? What do they feel you are doing well? What do they think you need to improve upon?

If you’re introducing a new product or service what is the market potential? Are you being realistic about what it can do for your company as a whole

This will ensure that you are looking outwards and will help you to build a true picture of what you look like now and what you want to achieve, and may well throw up some surprises!

Shape your new brand

Once you have carried out your research and really understand the problems a rebrand needs to solve you can begin to shape what your new brand should do for and say to customers.

  • What characteristics or qualities do we want people to think of when they hear our name?
  • How do we want our customer to feel when they use our product/service?
  • Do our products/services live up to these ideas? If not, make changes at product/service level before you do anything else.
  • What do you want to retain from your existing brand-where is the real ‘heritage’, and where do we need to build new values and promises.

Develop your internal ambassadors

Do not even attempt to roll out a new brand without first training every staff member in the new brand. Why are you carrying out the rebrand? What does it mean? What changes do you want your staff members to make to ensure that their behaviour is ‘on brand’? If necessary incentivise these behaviours to make sure there is a longevity beyond the first 3 months after its launch. Get key influencers involved in the rebrand process- i.e. looking at ways they can make the roles that they carry out ‘on brand’. Get them bought into the new brand and involved in the process.

Be relentless in communicating your rebranding efforts

Once you launch your new brand be bold and relentless in its communication. Don’t water it down or ‘forget’ to use it. Make sure that all your internal and external touch points have been considered and changed to fit in with the new brand.

Expect a ‘response’ and be brave!

Hopefully, your new brand will be well received and will quickly help you to achieve your business goals. However, you will always have detractors who ’ liked it better before’ or to whom ‘it doesn’t make sense’. People fear change but be brave! You have done your research and you have rational, business-led decisions for conducting the rebrand. Give it time and let your bottom line do the talking!

Check out these examples of our branding and rebranding work.

Photo by Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash

Feet and arrows

Which CMS to choose and why

If you are commissioning a new website, you will need to choose which CMS (Content Management System) to use and are likely to be recommended one by your developer. It is worth discussing the options at this stage thouroughly though; the CMS will be a very significant part of the infrastructure of your website, so making the wrong choice can be costly.

Part of what we do at POP is maintaining websites that we didn’t build originally or making them work more effectively, so naturally, we have seen clients with systems that are a bad fit for what they are trying to achieve.

Here are some considerations when choosing your Content Management System:

Who else supports the Content Management System?

Some systems are high-quality, widely-supported and free (eg. Expression Engine, Magento and WordPress) or carry a licence or subscription fee (Craft, Shopify). However, some are less-well supported by the developer community and/or are lower-quality (CS Cart, Perch, Open Cart, Drupal, Joomla!).

A low level of support can mean difficulties expanding the functionality of your website in the future, or it being expensive to do so.

A low level of support can mean difficulties expanding the functionality of your website in the future, or it being expensive to do so. It could also mean a frustrating content management experience and limited options if you want to part ways with your current developer.

How individual are your needs really?

Are your needs really that individual? If so, by all means invest heavily in the bespoke system that your developer is going to create around your specific needs, but also realise that you may now be tied to that developer through thick and thin and the ongoing support costs may also be significant.

Will the CMS still be a good choice in a year or two?

Some of the entry-level systems such as Squarespace and Shopify can be a great way to get online or start selling quickly and cheaply, but are you able to scale your website up alongside the demands of your business? Do you have the flexibility to configure the architecture of your website for SEO? They may be a great first step, but will restrictions make them a false economy?

Conclusion

Before committing to CMS, ask yourself how long you expect the website to last and what you might want to do during that period in terms of expanding its functionality.

If you are having a bespoke system built (the actual Content Management System, not just design and templates), is the cost necessary and will it be technically capable of keeping pace with your requirements?

Also, consider how long you expect the relationship with your developer to last once the honeymoon period and launch is over – do you have the flexibility to change if you want to? Will another developer or agency be able to support the website?

Head over to our projects for examples of CMS-driven websites.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash