The number one thing that I see agency owners doing is that because it is our own business and the client work is the work that pays the bills; we take shortcuts on our brands to get to the final result.
The first piece of advice would be to treat this project like a client project. It gets scheduled in the workflow, gets its own job number, and track the time you spend on the project. This way, it will hold the same weight as all your work for your clients; when new work comes in, the Rebrand won't be pushed to the side, which is always a common thought when any new business comes through the door.
A lot goes into a brand; it isn't just about a logo or a catchy tagline; it's about creating a distinct identity that resonates with your target audience and positions your agency ahead of your competitors. With this in mind, there is a deliverables list that you can tailor to your launch plan, potentially adding detail in other areas post-launch. Think about the outputs you need to launch with and work from there; knowing what you need to get out of the process will help drive your focus as you build your brand.
The creative process of design is a well-trodden path, but the exploration phase often starts too early; just like a generic positioning statement, a generic brand will not stand out and resonate with your audience. Understanding what makes your unique selling point (USP) will set you apart from others; it's something to hang your hat on and build the brand around.
It is good to take note of your competition, but try not to create mood boards based solely on their work; it's the main reason design trends occur; it becomes an echo chamber of the same ideas and creative techniques. It is best to look outward, into the wider world, away from your sector, linking concepts and themes to your USP; it will enrich your brand and help you stand out even more. A trip to the library is always better than a search on Google. You will find more authentic connections to your brand purpose and vision away from the computer.
Another strategic exercise would be to ask your clients and staff how they perceive the current brand and positioning, ask about the logo, and whether it represents the business and its values. Ask them what they expect from a new logo, what colours they associate with the agency, and, most importantly, what they think the agencies are. This can be an informal/formal chat or, for larger agencies, a Typeform survey or something similar.
Once you have your results and feedback, collate them all and see if there are some key outcomes. These outcomes can inform the creative process as you create the essential items to set your agency apart.
Now that you've done some deep dive analysis of your current position and your values and USP whilst gathering important feedback from your peers, it is time to look at your name. Does it represent your vision for your company? Is it unique? Is it easily communicated? If your answer was 'no' to any of those questions, it might be worth renaming your agency.
Word association exercises can help (see screenshot) bring connections to themes and highlight other conceptual areas to explore. You'll find that they create a pathway for your ideas to flow naturally along a defined conceptual route.
It's worth seeing if your name could be created from a well-known phrase. Try out www.phrases.org.uk and see if that also sparks any ideas.
Every intriguing name has a story behind it. It sparks curiosity and invites questions. But remember, the name is only the start of the tale. Don't overthink it too much. Even if your product thrives online, your business has a real-world presence. We're more than just a web address.
If you're happy with the company name, or you've now got your shiny new name, then it is time to create the brand around it. There are some consistent things that every brand needs; depending on the scope of your business, this will vary, but the essentials for an agency are as follows:
Creating these elements gives you enough to launch your brand; if you wanted to go deeper, you could look at things like motion, printed stationery templates, and apparel.
Compelling logos are simple, scalable and flexible. Is your logo legible when blown up to fit on a billboard and shrunk to fit in a profile picture on your social channels? Does your logo work in monotone (black & white)? Can your logo be used with a tagline? Or can you delete the name, will it work as a brand mark? All these points are worth considering when looking at your logo.
This brief will serve as the foundation for the rebranding project and should be comprehensive enough to guide the creative team while leaving room for creativity and innovation. It's essential to engage with the team throughout the process to ensure the Rebrand meets the agency's needs and goals. You'll need to collate all your research, positioning and audience details into a document that can be easily shared with your creative team.
It is worth having some pages/slides upfront that define the agency's purpose, goals, and audience. From there, you would lay out the objectives of the Rebrand, along with any additional points to note (such as sector-specific things to avoid or consider).
If you have an idea of how you'd like to sound through your verbal communication, reference that as well. At this point in the brief, it's best to give more detail than not. You don't want assumptions about Tone of Voice or where your agency sits within our marketplace.
Next is references; now, this is a crucial part. My top tip would be to only include what I call 'scrapbook' references. So things like crops of a font you like, bits of colour referencing, some cropped logo features. Essentially, it is building a mood board that gives an aesthetic direction, but it's not full of logos and the work of other companies. This will lead to regurgitating other ideas and concepts that worked well for others but not necessarily for you.
It is also good practice to be open with who the key decision makers are in your agency, who will be involved in the sign-off process, and most importantly, who will have the final say.
The next step is to draw up a list of deliverables you would like from the project. This list can be edited down the line, but it's great to capture anything specific you need. For example, if you use a particular platform for your marketing or require bespoke printed stationery.
Finally, now you have a more comprehensive view of the project in hand, you may begin to see the detail that will be required in certain areas and the skillsets you will need to hire to complete the project. It's good to allocate a budget; it does help to set a minimum and maximum amount, and there is always some movement with scope and timeframes.
Any good creative studio or freelancer should heavily involve you throughout the creative process, ensuring that it is a two-way communication which makes you feel engaged along the way. There shouldn't be any shocks in any 'big reveals' or presentations as the creative concept(s) should represent your company strategically and creatively. Remember, your brand will likely be the first interaction between you and your clients.
Every studio or creative will follow a similar process; there will be nuances along the way, but the best piece I can offer is trust in their process. They will get to the right solution; it may require some further detail or amendments, but see your role as a guide rather than a dictator, and the project will benefit from that massively.
The whole process should be empathetic towards your target clients; what level of brands do they usually consume, and what are their expectations? As long as you're able to plan the project effectively and that you're able to communicate clearly the goals and aspirations of your agency, then you will come out of the whole thing with a Brand that represents the values and principles that you adorn.
At Renowned, we have a track record of redefining established brands. We work closely with all of our clients to help define and refine the brief to make sure all the details are captured. Our brand work is as unique as our clients, delivering results through research-led design.