3 Signs It’s Time to Hire a Brand Identity Agency

Brand identity and visual strategy illustration

The way that your brand presents itself to the world has everything to do with the success of your business. Today’s consumers — especially Gen Z, the largest generation at about 32% of the population — demand more authenticity and transparency from the brands they interact with. What’s more, a stunning 72% of consumers only want to engage with marketing content that feels personalized to them. So if your brand identity is out-of-date or unequipped to meet these new demands, even the best marketing strategy may fail to reach your audience — and that’s where the right agency can help. 

A brand identity, or visual identity, is a codified system that translates your brand’s purpose, values, and goals into a brand book or brand guidelines. It can include everything from illustration and icon styles to typography direction and color palette

And it makes for an invaluable tool as you produce everything from marketing to internal comms content. A brand identity brings your brand strategy to life across every channel of communication. What’s more, it helps you boost brand awareness and build brand equity. 

However, none of this means that a brand identity is static. As business goals and target audiences change and evolve, even the most effective visual identity can start to feel like it’s no longer hitting the mark. 

So how can you tell when it’s time to revamp your brand identity — or build one for the first time — and how can you decide what agency partner is right for you? Let’s take a look at a few signs that you’re due for a change. Then we’ll list what characteristics to look for in the right partner. 

#1: You’re Not Seeing Enough Engagement

Megaphone to indicate marketing engagement

If your social-media posts are falling flat and your site traffic is lagging, this is a sign that you’re no longer appealing to your target audiences. Meanwhile, if sales are stagnant, you might not even be speaking to high-quality leads or current clients and customers. These are just a few signs that organizational transformation is in order. 

If you’re not sure what your audience needs, consider finding an agency partner that can help you conduct ethnographic market research, conduct a market segmentation study, or gather digital analytics and insights, all of which can help you find the right visual strategy to drive your brand identity update. 

Another option is to partner with a visual strategy agency, whose team will be specially trained in making brand-identity recommendations based on your target audience and your unique business goals. A traditional design agency isn’t trained in visual communication — accurate, meaningful, and goal-oriented information design — in the same way a visual strategy agency is.  

#2: Your Brand Identity Feels Out-of-Date

1990s Pepsi can brand identity example

Image courtesy of Designhill

Even iconic companies with near-universal brand recognition undergo a rebrand from time to time. Remember how a can of Pepsi looked in the ’90s? It’s hard to imagine that style would fly today. 

New aesthetics and design preferences emerge every day. In fact, this process seems to have accelerated quite a bit with the advent of visual-first platforms such as Instagram. Today, every individual has the tools to express themselves — and their preferences — through design. That’s probably why our customers are more visually literate than ever. And it’s the same reason that organizations need to work hard to update their visual strategy and brand identity as needed. 

So if your brand feels like it’s right out of the 1990s — or 2000s — or even 2010s — it might be time to reassess. Your company wants to look innovative and in touch, not like a blast from the past. 

#3: You Haven’t Yet Established a Brand Identity or Visual Strategy

Illustration of magnifying glass, bull's eye, and strategy Xes and Os

We get it. Building a brand is about a lot more than developing a visual identity. You need to establish your mission and values. You have to build a supply chain. You need to identify who your potential customers are and what your value proposition means to them. 

When you’re building a company, all of these considerations may feel more urgent than creating a brand identity. But how potential customers view and interact with your brand can make or break your business. 

Maybe you already have a rough color palette in place. Or a logo. But these elements in isolation don’t amount to a clear vision for your brand. What’s more, they probably haven’t fully taken your mission and values into consideration. 

That’s why the first step in building a brand identity is to define a visual strategy for your brand as a whole. A visual strategy takes your goals and audience into consideration, then defines what types of visual content — and what underlying brand identity — will help you achieve those goals and reach potential customers. 

The next step will be to build a brand book, which can guide most or all visual expressions of your brand moving forward. (What is a brand book? We define it here.) This asset, also called your brand guidelines, will define your strategy-driven brand identity moving forward.

Finding the Right Brand Identity Agency

illustration of brand identity agency employees

Building a complete brand identity that’s both goal-driven and versatile enough to be used across a broad variety of assets isn’t easy. That’s why most organizations look to an agency to define their visual strategy and build an effective brand identity. 

But how can you know whether an agency is the right fit for your needs? Here are some features and characteristics that every brand identity agency should have:

  • A fully in-house team to encourage creative collaboration and reduce delays and quality-control problems with freelancers.
  • A dedicated project manager to ensure your goals are communicated and met at every stage.
  • A whole-team kickoff call for your project. 
  • A dedication to learning more about your goals and audience, and a capacity to build a visual strategy based on your needs.
  • Experience working with a variety of companies to build successful, goal-oriented brand identities. 

So as you consider your options, ensure that any partner can offer these 5 fundamentals. With the right brand identity agency in place, you’re sure to see improved business performance and better engagement with the audiences who matter most.

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Spanish literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

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