Branding services and branding deliverables can get ridiculously confusing.
When you’re approaching a branding agency to work with, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for.
But it’s not that easy, when everyone you approach is simply going to recommend “you need the whole package.”
We don’t advocate branding packages. And we believe each and every one of our clients should only take the services they need.
We’re here to help our client’s business grow, not line our own pockets.
Branding isn’t a straightforward topic, and I’m not implying that other agencies forcibly upsell or talk people around in circles on purpose.
But you might come away thinking:
Am I buying a strategy? An identity? A website? I just don’t know anymore!
If that sounds like a recent experience you’ve had, or you’re doing some research on the different branding services and deliverables, then this is the post for you.
Branding services aren’t hard to find.
I’m pretty sure if you Google [your location] + branding, the results will be a stream of agencies that provide branding services.
But what branding services do you actually need at this stage? Do you need them all? Or are you just looking for a brand identity?
I would argue that you need all of the branding services outlined, no matter what you’re trying to achieve.
However, I appreciate you may not have the appropriate branding budget. So, are there any areas where you might be able to save your budget?
Let’s jump in and explore.
At Canny, we hold a Discovery Session with each and every single one of our new clients.
It helps us to get an understanding of your business, and the goals and objectives of your branding project.
The Discovery Session also allows the whole team to pitch in, making sure everybody is on the same page with the project.
The first thing we do is run through the branding questionnaire that we’ve created for our clients. This helps us to gain clarity on the project at hand.
Getting clear on the goals, strategy, and route to market in a roundtable session is a solid foundation for any project, which is why we place so much value on these sessions.
It also allows us to touch on the marketplace and competitors that you’re up against.
We also talk through ideal clients, building out an ideal customer persona as we go. This helps keep the project laser focused.
Towards the end of the session, once the business side of things is taken care of, we look over visual styles.
This helps us to identify what type of brand identity might work for you, as well as what won’t.
We’ve ran Discovery Sessions in Tokyo, London, Toronto, and more! Either virtually, or in person, getting everyone “in” one room is vital!
Wrapping up a Discovery Session leaves everyone with a shared understanding of the task at hand.
You just can’t skimp on this stage at all. Without it, you’re doomed. The Discovery Session helps loop everyone in, and makes sure everyone understands the project.
Marketplace research takes place on two levels, and offers a macro view of the market that you operate in.
Let’s pretend you’re in the business of packaged snacks (check out our snack packaging post if you’re in need of inspiration.)
In the marketplace research for a packaged snacks company, we’d be looking at:
- Packaged snacks, and snacking industry in general – what’s trending, what’s working, what’s not?
- The geographical area in which you’re going to operate – what’s popular, what are you up against, how do you compare?
It’s important that you gather insights on both an industry level, and a geographical level.
You can then start reaching out to potential customers and gain insights into customer preferences and behaviour.
This sort of marketplace research can then help to drive decisions later in the branding process.
Always good to have an idea of the market you’re entering. But a full comprehensive report can probably be reserved for larger companies.
Competitor research is a crucial step in any branding project.
You need to understand the “lay of the land” before you can decide exactly where you want to pitch your tent.
When conducting competitor research with clients, this is what we’re asking:
- Who are your competitors?
- What are they doing well?
- What are they doing poorly?
- Do you like how they look?
- What do they offer compared to you?
- Why would people choose you over them?
Branding is a lot deeper than the creation of some pretty visuals.
However, it can be pretty difficult to compare brand strategies, unless your competitors have something publicly available.
That said, you can pretty easily compare their marketing efforts and visuals.
By using Google, signing up to their mailing list, requesting a brochure etc, you can quickly form a picture of the branded products and materials your competitors are putting out.
Sometimes, you learn some things that make you really think about the direction you’re taking, or whether you could offer something extra, or different.
Sometimes, all you learn from your competitors is:
“We don’t want to be anything like them.”
And that’s fine too!
As long as you’re learning something, competitor research remains a valuable branding service.
Everyone.From the smallest owner operated businesses, to the corporate giants of the world, you’ve got to know what you’re up against to succeed.
Every business needs a name. There’s no way of getting away from that.
New businesses need to create one and existing businesses might be considering a change.
There are a lot of different ways to name your business:
- Owners names/name (Adidas, founder Adi Dasler)
- Ingredients (Coca Cola, coca leaves, cola berries)
- Metaphor (Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory)
- Shortening (Intel, short for integrated electronics)
The list goes on and on.
If you’re stuck with naming your brand, then you’ll want to get help from a naming professional.
These days, a name means less than it used to. It’s all about the power of branding.
Nike would’ve been nothing without their branding efforts and marketing spend.
Naming is tricky business, and having a catchy name gives you great brandability when it comes to domains, social media handles, slogans etc.
But, it’s not the be all and end all if you can’t get the “perfect name.” Perfect is unachievable.
Once you have a name, you can work on your branding to build brand equity, and suddenly your brand name will blossom.
But you can save a lot of time, effort, and money if you’ve already got yours sorted out!
Check out our post on How to Name Your Business Brand if you’re stuck with naming your business.
Brand Identity Design
Most people assume this is what is meant when we talk about branding.
But it’s no good having a brand identity design, without all of the other good stuff that comes with it.
Every business needs a brand identity designyour to build recognition with both potential and existing customers.
Think of the Apple store.
First of all there’s the stark, clean, advertising that hooks you in. From there, you visit the store, and you’re met with the same cleanliness and high end look and feel.
In the store you recognise the Apple logo mark emblazoned on the walls and on staff t-shirts.
Then you get to the products, and they look awesome, yet familiar. There’s something consistent about the whole experience.
By having a consistent visual language that is present across all of your brand touchpoints, you’re giving your customers the chance to get to know you.
Your branding isn’t just the visuals that people associate with your business. That’s your brand identity design.
Your brand identity gives people an easy way to identify you, and therefore, it should always be handled professionally.
Don’t attempt this yourself. At this stage, you’ll definitely want a professional branding agency involved.
If you’re still unsure on what branding is, then check out our posts:
And they’ll help you to gain a fuller understanding of what branding is and what branding services are on offer.
Website Design and Development
Website design and development being classed as a branding service might surprise you.
But essentially, your website is the 24/7 shop front of your business brand. Therefore, it’s important it’s design and functionality is considered right alongside your brand identity project.
Your website is active at all hours, whether you’re asleep, away on holiday, or just busy!
So, you want to make sure you put your best foot forward, think strategically about your website, and try to convert those visitors into customers.
If you get your digital marketing strategy right, your website could be responsible for a huge amount of sales or enquiries.
Don’t sleep on your website design when working on your branding.
It’s important that your website delivers, and moves the needle of your key performance indicators!
The website is the area of your business that most people try and skimp, and end up using some website design software to build their own.
Don’t do that!
Considering your website is often the first port of call for many of your potential customers, that’s a crazy idea!
Bring in a web design agency to help. Alongside your brand identity, I can’t state how important your website is.
Partnership and Relationship Development
Now, this isn’t specifically a branding service.
But the partnership and relationship that you build with an agency, is worth 10x what you’re paying them.
A good branding agency will become like an extra arm to your business. They’re your trusted resource partner, with one eye on your best interests.
Developing a relationship with an agency and getting to know each other takes time.
But if you let them help you, you can take your business to new heights!
So, Where Can Branding Budget Be Saved?
Unless you have a brand name in mind already, then you can’t save branding budget on the services.
Each of the services outlined above is a key branding service and should be handled by a professional branding agency.
The deliverables though…
That’s another story. As a general rule, if you have the budget to spend, you should bring in an agency to help with each one of the below deliverables.
If not, then we’ve shared some ideas on where you could save.
Let’s take a look at the typical branding deliverables we get asked to design.
Your branding deliverables are the output of your engagement with a creative or branding agency.
They’re the things you “take home” and put to good use when marketing your business.
So, which branding deliverables are important to have from day one? And which can wait?
Well, that depends on your specific business and brand vision, but let’s take a look.
We’ve covered brand and branding strategy plenty of times on the Canny blog.
So by now, you know your brand strategy consists of your:
- Brand Values
- Brand Mission
- Brand Story
- Brand Positioning
- Brand Messaging
Every single brand needs to start here. It’s unavoidable. Your brand has no foundation without a strategy.
But do you always need to bring in an agency to help develop your brand strategy?
If you have a solid branding budget, you should always enlist agency support.
However, if you don’t, then check out our Ultimate Small Business Branding Guide. You can use that to help kickstart your own brand strategy.
It’s important you get your brand strategy right before you move onto the next item in the list.
Brand Identity Design
We’ve already talked about brand identity design earlier in the post.
This is the branding deliverable that most people want to skip straight to and consists of:
- Brand Name
- Logo Usage
- Brand Guidelines
Do you need to spend your branding or marketing budget on this?
Sure, you could of course come up with your own brand or business name, but the rest of it, is an absolute must.
You need an effective logo design that people associate with your business.
Then, it’s important to nail down your logo usage so you know when to use the vertical or horizontal logo lockup.
Colours and typography are a must. How can you build a brand identity without that?
And finally, wrapping it all up in brand guidelines helps solidify the look and feel of your brand.
Sure, the cost of branding might seem like a lot, but it is a great investment for your business.
How many successful brands have you seen without a great brand identity?
You need to invest in a brand identity that gives your business the look and feel it deserves. But more importantly, resonates with your customer.
Don’t skimp here!
The amount of stationery design that you need is debatable.
A lot of business go “all in” and get every single thing designed at once.
That typically includes:
- Business Cards
- Compliment Slips
That’s a whole load of design work to bite off in one go.
If you’re looking for good stationery design, check out some of the best stationery design we’ve seen.
From Day One, I’d say that every brand has a need for business cards.
In business, you’re always meeting people. Whether you opt for a digital business card, or traditional printed card, you’ll always want to be able to give people something to remember you by.
Lately, we’ve been seeing the popularity of letterheads drop off. Not many letters are printed these days, and a lot of people just opt for their logo stuck at the top of a PDF.
It’s not as sexy, but it does the job.
Compliment slips have died the death. Only one in the last twenty of our clients have had those designed. They look good, but they’re not vital to the operation.
Invoices these days are typically generated by an automated system like Xero or Sage, so unless you have the money to go for a full HTML template, then you don’t need to worry about that.
Quotes and Proposal documents are an area I would normally advise our clients to invest in.
As they’re client facing documents, I firmly believe in giving potential customers the best brand experience possible. Having your Quote or Proposal document perfectly “on brand” is a great way to do that.
Contracts could go either way for me. Sure, they’re customer facing. But typically, they’re a pretty formal legal document with not a whole load of room for creativity.
Perhaps a nice front and back cover is the solution here!
Again, I want to reiterate, if you have a solid branding budget, you should make sure every single thing you put out is “on brand.” Your stationery design can help sell your business.
There’s no point skimping and saving if you don’t have to!
Marketing or advertising a small business can be tricky!
And it’s also in the marketing or advertising of a business where costs can quickly skyrocket.
To effectively market your venture, you need to go to where your customers are.
There’s no point in advertising at a Trade Fair if you’re in the B2C (business to consumer) space.
Likewise, you don’t want to be doing a leaflet or flyer drop if you sell specialised business products.
Typical marketing materials that we end up designing include:
- Flyers and Leaflets
- Promotional Items and Giveaways
- Powerpoint Presentation
- Pitch Decks
- Exhibition Stands
Do you need each of the above designed professionally?
Yes and no really.
Flyers and leaflets should be designed professionally. They’re difficult things to get right, and are going directly into the hands of potential customers.
Promotional items and giveaways (pens, pencils, notebooks) can probably all be designed using some online software. Most merchandise websites have some built in design tools to help guide you in creating these items.
Powerpoint Presentations and Pitch Decks are an interesting conundrum.
You could argue that you’ll use these in important meetings or talks, in which case they should be designed by your branding partner.
But if you do a wide range of presentations, or talks, then it’d be easy to rank up a large bill creating each one professionally.
What we’ve found to work is creating a template for slideshows that our clients can then shape to their individual needs.
Brochures tend to be larger documents and should absolutely be designed properly. There’s an art to good brochure design.
Exhibition stands can be tricky one. Some people opt for straightforward roller banners. Others go “all in” and have elaborate stands designed.
If you’re exhibiting at a smaller local event, you could take your chances with your own designs. However, if it’s a large event with a huge amount of traffic – you want your stand, to stand out!
Adverts that drop into magazines or newspapers should also be handled professionally. Having an advert designed means you get to sense check the concept and the copy. Don’t miss out on that opportunity!
Small business advertising, and business advertising in general, can be a messy business.
You need to have a plan before ordering a whole range of branded marketing materials “just in case.”
You don’t want to be sitting on a whole load of material that never gets used!
Think long and hard about your marketing plan for the next 12 months, then reverse engineer that, and you’ll know exactly what you need.
Printing is a bit of a strange area.
It’s easy to be seduced by offers for 500 business cards for £5 through cheap online printers.
But trust me, the quality is never that good.
Then, you have the other end of the spectrum where companies are charging £300 for 500 cards. They’re edge painted, and embossed.
They look great!
But don’t fall into the trap of under or over investing in your printed goods.
Again, if you have the budget to go for the high end options. Do it! You won’t regret it.
We recommend our friends at Stationery Direct, as we find their prices to be very competitive, and the quality of their output is great!
Check them out, even if it’s just for getting a comparison with your current quote.
Website Design and Development
Your website is one area where honestly, I recommend spending the majority of your business branding or marketing budget.
We’ve been over the importance of a solid strategic website design already.
A lot of startups opt for a simple landing page website. We don’t advocate this strategy as it can then be difficult to put any digital marketing work into action.
At the very minimum, you need to be rolling out with a blog.
We find that a lot of our clients go for a brochure website, which gives people an idea of the services they offer.
It also allows you to roll out a good content and digital marketing strategy.
Unless you’re selling products to consumers, you probably don’t need an ecommerce solution.
There’s a huge budget range at play when you’re creating a website.
So, make sure to explore your options with an agency, then think hard about the investment you’re willing to make into your website.
It’s important your website is right, and although the cost of website design can be high, it’s an investment into the right area for your business.
Don’t skip on good website design. It’s really not worth it.
Digital content can be created by yourself, or by an agency.
What do we mean when we say digital content? Well, there’s:
- Social Media Assets
Social media assets typically consist of logos and headers for use across a range of social platforms. You might also opt to have a post template designed too.
Your branding agency will typically provide your logo files to you at the end of a project, so you can either get them to make the social squares, or upload them yourself.
Ebooks, whitepapers, and PDFs form an important part of our digital marketing strategy and can be quite tricky to create on your own. So I recommend getting help here.
If you’re fairly confident in your own design like abilities, give Canva a whirl. You can probably do what you need to for social media on there.
However, when it comes to creating good lead magnets (like ebooks), it’s important they’re “on brand” as they’re going to be landing directly into your customers inbox.
Conclusion: The Complete List of Branding Services and Deliverables
If you have the budget to work with a branding agency, then you should absolutely do it. The relationship you build with them can help propel your brand.
A good agency will also be able to help advise on the appropriate branding services and deliverables for your specific business needs.
As outlined above, it’s important your branding is right. If you can, try and make room in your budget for everything we’ve talked about in this post.
If not, then think logically about the order in which you’ll need things, then make allowances to accommodate for that.
Your branding and website can make or break your business.
Invest in the right services and branding deliverables, and you’ll be giving your business your the best possible chance of success.
What do you think? How did you go about prioritising your branding? Let us know in the comments below.
reading time: 19 minutes