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Photo Credit: Eva Chen

To Hire or Not to Hire – Should You Bring a Branding Professional Aboard?

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In certain areas of business it is hard to figure out whether it needs the touch of a professional or not. Professionals can cost money and with most startups the key to success is not getting yourself in deep financial straits right off the bat. Then again, there are some areas where a professional is almost always needed. So how do you pick and choose those areas? On unique area is branding. While it seems like a fairly easy concept, doing it effectively can be a whole different ball game. What it comes down to in the end is it important enough to hire a branding professional to help propel your brand forward, or do you feel you could do it yourself? Below some entrepreneurs share their views on the matter.

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Photo Credit: Jody Ordioni

Photo Credit: Jody Ordioni

Definitely hire

You should definitely hire a branding professional. When conducting brand research, only a neutral third party can get honest responses from employees, executives, customers, and other stakeholders. And only an outsider can receive the responses without bias or defensiveness. It often takes someone who hasn’t “drunk the Kool-Aid” to spot not just a company’s flaws but also its hidden strengths. Simple surveys and basic communications audits don’t cost much, and the benefit of a branding professional makes up for it many times over.

Thanks to Jody Ordioni, Brandemix

Related Post: How Customers Can Help Promote Your Brand

 

Photo Credit: Nora D. Richardson

Photo Credit: Nora D. Richardson

Hire a professional

Your company’s branding is the most important thing you can invest in. Potential customers make assumptions about your company every time they come in contact with your branding. Why wouldn’t you want it to look it’s best? A branding professional’s job is to communicate and translate your company’s vision into a clear, consistent and effective brand. They can be a trusted team member who helps your company to understand looks, feelings, human nature, marketing, your target, and your competitors. Without that guidance, you are just stabbing in the dark. There is some tough competition out there. The time it takes you to fiddle around with these concepts on your own, could cost you market share. A branding professional assess all of these things for you and gets the right look and feel the first time to bring in the dividends quickly.

Thanks to Nora D. Richardson, Spot-On Branding

 

Photo Credit: Eshe Glover

Photo Credit: Eshe Glover

A resounding yes

YES! A branding expert will conduct research and develop a strategy to help you grow and protect your brand awareness, acceptance + reputation. They will also monitor your brand and recommend actions to correct negative perceptions, and expand upon positive ones. Oftentimes, business owners confuse their graphic identity with their brand; a branding expert will help you understand the components that comprise your brand, and help ensure they are complementary and supportive of your business vision and culture. Your brand isn’t what you say it is; it’s what they say it is. You can’t control your brand, but a branding expert will help you manage it.

Thanks to Eshe Glover, BluePepper Public Relations

 

Photo Credit: Chanin Ballance

Photo Credit: Chanin Ballance

It all depends

It often depends on the situation, size and goals of the company. Good branding can easily cost upwards of $50,000 and is cost prohibitive for a lot of companies, especially if their sales and marketing resources are unable to support the brand moving forward. That said, for global companies with means, hiring a brand professional can be a very important move to bring insight and perspective to the team. Global marketing demands a whole lot more than just a simple translation of words from one language to another, because behind every language is a unique, idiosyncratic culture that can’t be ignored. In these situations, it can be beneficial to have an agency that specializes in supporting global marketing programs through translation and localization to help you successfully deliver the right translated message that speaks with your brand’s voice and with localized meaning every time.

Thanks to Chanin Ballance, VIA

Related Post: Ideas for Giving Your Brand a Makeover

 

Photo Credit: Aric Zion

Photo Credit: Aric Zion

For elegance, hire a professional

Business owners tend to get too close to their own company and forget that the brand needs to not only make sense to them, but that it must resonate with customers, potential customers, media and industry. Having an outside perspective of what makes the company different than the competition is vital. and, given how commoditized most products are, having a professional that can craft your brand story usually means that it will come out as both more persuasive and with an elegance that makes it harder for competitors to emulate.

Thanks to Aric Zion, Zion & Zion

 

Photo Credit: Dean Parker

Photo Credit: Dean Parker

To have a strong image hire a professional

Most business want to promote themselves as a quality, professional provider. In many cases, their brand does not support this image. Your brand is one of the first things potential, existing and even lapsed customers see. It appears on your advertising, packaging, website, business cards, letter heads and invoices. Promotional material with a mis-match of layouts, colours and designs sends a negative, unprofessional message to customers. Organisations with strong brands can charge a price premium for the near identical products. Look at the cola isle of your supermarket, there’s dozens of brands offering the same product. The best-selling brand commands the most shelf space and is the most expensive. What’s the one thing that differentiates it from all the other products? A strong, recognisable brand. To implement and maintain your strong brand strategy you need to have a professional graphic designer create or update your logo. Employees feel proud working for a company that has implemented a strong brand strategy. The improved customer perception of the organisation will reflect positively on your staff and their attitude towards the organisation. It makes them look more professional.

Thanks to Dean Parker, Four P’s Marketing Solutions

 

Photo Credit: Eran Eyal

Photo Credit: Eran Eyal

Probably one of the most important things you’ll ever do

Getting a branding professional in to help solidify and focus your brand is probably one of the most important things you will ever do. The exercise in itself provides a clear understanding and mad ate of the company mission statement and focus. Often, until this is done, the brand struggles as it finds it’s feet in explaining to the world what it actually does. This is because often, entrepreneurs get so excited by the idea of what their business means to themselves o what they can do that they don’t quickly and efficiently deliver a clear message. A branding expert distills the essence of the business from the chaos and delivers a focused visual identity representative of the core business value. Doing this from day one, ensures market uptake/ traction is quicker as people understand exactly what that business does.

Thanks to Eran Eyal, Springleap

Related Post: Where to Find a Website Designer

 

Photo Credit: Eva Chen

Photo Credit: Eva Chen

Yes and no

Yes, if the branding professional will help them clarify the essence of who they are and what their business stands for – your brand strategy. Before spending a dime on marketing, it’s important to define the personality that you want to put to your words. The values that are underneath why you do what you do. This adds the color beneath the words that make you stand out. The who you are and why that people buy – and defining your brand from within does that. Today’s it’s more important than ever for the entrepreneur to brand because it’s all about that deeper connection that big companies spend millions on to give the consumer a personal feel. Entrepreneurs can easily give that intimacy and authenticity by bringing more of who they are into their business. No, if the branding professional is focused on the external, fancy logos, graphics, website, and marketing materials. Especially if you’re starting out and you haven’t clarified what makes you stand out – your internal brand. When you’ve defined your brand from within, you’ll have the essential information to communicate to graphics & creative professionals that will give you a look and feel that is congruent with who you are. You’ll get better results from any resources you spend on marketing when you define your internal brand first.

Thanks to Eva Chen, New Leaf Creative Strategies

 

Photo Credit: Stella Gianotto

Photo Credit: Stella Gianotto

Of course you should

Of course you should!! Great brands weren’t created on the back of a coaster sitting around at the pub on a Sunday afternoon, now were they? All great Brands that have a story to tell, like those of Nike or McDonalds which we all know well today. These brands do this by creating a connection with you as a follower. An experienced branding professional will help you execute your ideas and help your brand (whether newly created of well established) rise above your competition. Hiring an experience brand professional know what values to communicate visually, which will inspire and what it takes to create a truly inspiration brand. Best of all a great branding professional is also a good story teller. The story they are telling, is the one of your brand. So should you hire a brand professional? Absolutely, as long as you know the ‘real story’ behind your brand, any branding professional will be able to create a brand, followed for many years to come.

Thanks to Stella Gianotto, Stella Design

 

Photo Credit: Michelle Dale

Photo Credit: Michelle Dale

If you’re not prepared to wait and learn, hire an expert

Branding is something that should be taken very seriously, as it can make or break a business. If you feel you want to give it a go yourself, then get started and start asking people what they think, how you’ve done, would it be a brand they trust, would it be something they are drawn towards. If the feedback isn’t coming back as positive, then it’s time to hire a professional. I am not a branding professional, but over the years I have developed an excellent brand – but as a novice, it did take me years, and if you’re not prepared to wait and to learn, then hire an expert and cut out the time and money involved in educating yourself to get it right, and concentrate on what you do best.

Thanks to Michelle Dale, Virtual Miss Friday

 

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About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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