5 mistakes people make when hiring a branding agency

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Choosing a branding agency that isn’t the right fit for you is worse than spilling glitter. If you’ve never spilled glitter then you probably don’t understand the seriousness of a situation like that. I won’t go deep into what bad branding will do to your brand, but very briefly here: A bad brand design can leave your business attracting the wrong kinds of clients. If you’re unclear in your messaging, people won’t take the time to try to figure out what it is that you do. You can lose customers. You can lose sales. I don’t want to go all dark here, but your business could go completely under.

Branding is serious work.

Great, purpose driven branding on the other hand, is what makes brands like Apple, Nike and Starbucks. It’s a long road to achieving greatness, but it often starts with an idea, a purpose and a brand.

With that said. We’d like to say to you:

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Congratulations!

You found a page that we wish everyone in the world would be able to read before hiring a branding agency. Please read the following carefully, and consider what each point could mean for you and your business.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! hello@atfirstsightcreative.com

Without further ado, here is our list of the top 5 mistakes people make when hiring a branding agency.

1. Choosing an agency or freelancer who doesn’t research your competition.

You must, must, must know what is best practices in your market place before you dive in yourself. You know the saying, “know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”  Well my saying is:

Know your competition well so you can compete with them effectively.

9/10 of the companies who come to us believe that their marketplace is crowded. That’s part of the curse of living in a digital age. Everything you want available is available at the tap of your fingertip. Quality branding helps people choose your brand, because we’ve researched your competitors and have created a strategy to help you stand out.

Knowing what others in your industry are doing is the first step to being able to level up how you do it. Your brand does not exist on a website or social media channel. Your brand exists in the minds of your customers. Controlling how your customers think of your brand is an art, but it also requires science and research. If you’re not researching your competition and customers you won’t be able to design in a way that your customers will relate to / vibe with / fangirl over.

And we want your customers to fangirl out.


2. Hiring a design team that doesn’t care about sales or marketing.

Sales and marketing are the only two things that make ANY business money. Our brand development package includes establishing a marketing edge for your brand to lean on. Your messaging is one of the most important pieces of your branding puzzle. Some “brand strategists” and brand designers out there are only focused on visual brand design, or the graphic design look of your business. We veered away from this kind of business long ago, because we know that no matter how beautiful your brand looks, if you don’t have clear messaging, success is going to be a lot harder to come by.

Some think sales = being  pushy or rude. After years of practicing sales, reading books on the subject and listening to training programs, we’ve crafted methods on how to best position brands to sell with gusto, and without being obnoxious or turning people off.


3. Part a: Hiring someone who isn’t up to date on graphic design trends.

We see it all the time. There we are minding our own business (sort of), looking at competitor’s websites, and we see someone who says they have 12-20 years of experience. Intrigued and excited to see what a company with that kind of longevity has grown into, we go to their website. Aaand their portfolio looks stuck in the 90s.

This is especially important to note if you’re not a millenial, because the design trends of the past may not be especially glaring to your eye right off the bat, which is why we put together a mini list of things that say “I’m not up to date on graphic design styles”.

Harsh drop shadows
Outlined text
Craaazy patterns in bold, clashing color palettes
Bevel and embossed buttons

Two caveats here:

1. Design is an art not a science. That means there will probably be different opinions on this since there’s more than one right answer. So on occasion the no-no list above might be allowable. But a lot of the changes away from the above design styles are based on science, like legibility on digital formats.

2. If you are really going after a 90s design style. Let’s talk! We love designing highly stylized retro looks. As long as it’s right for your brand.

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In short, you want someone who knows what the modern trends are, so your new branding won’t look dated. Our designs are thoughtful and generally very modern, in order to be as close to timeless as we can possibly make them.


Part b: Hiring someone who has an obvious “design style”

This essentially loops back to hiring an agency who doesn’t do their research. If you hire someone who has a really obvious design style (like, you’re scrolling through Pinterest and stop and think that looks like so-and-so’s design), chances are they’re going to design your logo in that same style. Makes sense, right? Designing the same style visual branding over and over again shows that there isn’t strategy behind their designs. It’s just a “look” that they like.

Choose an agency that gets educated on the design trends and styles that are attracting your ideal customers. Then use that information to make you stand out while still fitting in and being recognizable.


4. Hiring a company that only makes pretty things. Not useful things.

We love beautiful designs as much as the next person. Probably more even. But we won’t only focus on a look for your brand. We dig deeper than that! To increase customer loyalty you have to find people who believe in your business’s values. If your brand strategist only cares about making something that looks pretty (a shiny new logo for them to put up on their portfolio), people may like it, but they won’t become your brand FANS.

Fandom comes from aligning your audience with your core values. People shop at Whole Foods because they value organic foods and a clean, polished environment. It’s not that they inherently want to pay more for food in general! (Although at times people do believe that higher cost = higher value) The reason people choose to shop at Whole Foods instead vs. WalMart is because they value what each respective company provides.

5. Considering price only. AKA Not considering value.

Price is absolutely important. No one is questioning that! Furthermore, the stage that you’re at in your business will most likely play a part in how much you’re able to invest in your branding.  One thing I suggest my clients do is consider how much a single client is worth to them. In other words, how much money will a typical client spend on your product or services? If there is a high return on your branding and website design, then it makes sense to pay someone to get it right for you. If you’re already reaching large numbers through your marketing and sales, it is important to get your branding and website right. But if your budget is allocated for actually getting your products ordered, or if you really don’t have money set aside to start your business, chances are paying for website and branding may not be a good first move.


Those are the 5 most common mistakes we’ve seen people make when hiring a branding agency. If you have any questions don’t be afraid to reach out! We absolutely love getting emails and answering questions.