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In our last post, we shared a little bit about Storypowered’s unique approach, the way in which we help our clients uncover their brand stories. And that got our team thinking about the trust that our clients place in us as their branding agency and the monumental responsibility that agencies have in general to the people, businesses, and brands they serve.

You see, branding shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, good branding can help a product and company achieve wild success. But bad branding, a misstep here or a misstep there, can alienate potential and existing customers—and worse, tarnish a brand’s and/or business’ previously stellar reputation. Blunders can happen when an agency has failed to truly understand and appreciate the seriousness of the task at hand, as well as failed to fully understand the company or product it’s working with; when its so-called “brand experts” aren’t actually experts at all; or when it doesn’t have a disciplined methodology in place to help extract and create strong brand stories and brand positions.

To ensure that you find an agency (we’d certainly be glad if you chose us!) that understands the responsibility in branding, ask its staff the following three questions:

Question #1 – What does branding mean to you?

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, a brand isn’t a logo, rack card, or any other marketing material. It’s the facts and feelings your customers have about you, your product/service, or your company or organization; it’s what pops into someone’s head when they see, hear, or think of you. Any agency worth its salt knows this, and will never give you a brand by default—they won’t just redesign your website or develop a new logo and call that branding. They’ll uncover your brand story and craft a solution guided by that story with wit and clarity, shouting it far and wide. At least, that’s what branding means to us.

Question #2 – Can you walk me through your strategic process?

Branding is impossible without a set process. At the very least, a solid agency will have two steps in their method: 1) research and 2) creative. It’s important to find out if the agency has a thorough research process; in other words, how do they gather enough information, and the right information at that, to embark on the creative process. Do they hold focus groups with possible customers? Conduct satisfaction studies with your current audience? In terms of the creative part of the process, many agencies start with a creative brief or brainstorm. You can ask to see samples of these sessions to get a feel for what it will be like to work with that agency and the initial efforts its team members will put into understanding your story, your brand, your customers, etc. This is a chance to dig in and peek behind the wizard’s curtain. At Storypowered, we have a four-step process we affectionately call “our insanity,” as well as a variety of both research and development and creative services to offer.

Question #3 – How will you distinguish my brand from my competition?

You want a branding agency that helps you survey your particular competitive landscape and confidently stake your ground. In other words, an agency that helps you uncover and share your brand story and do so in a way that helps you win a competitive advantage over others. At Storypowered, this is part of our “cracking codes” step; it’s the time we spend helping you differentiate…and dominate.

While we’ve given you Storypowered’s short answers to the questions above, please don’t hesitate to ask us to elaborate. We’re passionate about branding, and our team members are, we can confidently say, total gurus. We promise to deliver branding that moves you closer to your goals, not further from them.