Building Calaboration’s brand is still a work in progress and might never be to where we want it fully. As we start building other company’s brands as well, we’ve determined a pretty standard blueprint for successfully strategizing and executing on an agency’s brand.
Building your agency’s brand is a process that will take at least one year if you do everything immediately. Your brand will be dependent on your personal reputation, the work your agency has done, and the aura you give off as the founder or CEO of this agency. Colors, imagery, and style will help reinforce the brand you’re going for, but only your attitude and results will give you the reputation you need to truly build your agency’s brand.
How to Build a Brand
Like we said, building a brand is a process. You’ll never be able to slap some photos and choose funky fonts on your website and determine your brand right away. Your brand and your style, in this case, are different. You have nailed down the aesthetic you want your agency to portray, but you still need to create the reputation necessary to get people branding you in their minds.
Step One: Your Personal Brand
As much as the idea of the personal brand has been tainted by so many middle-schooled wannabe Instagram influencers, the underlying principle still stands — your personal brand is your reputation.
When dealing with competing agencies especially, the only thing that’s differentiating you from them is how well people perceive you over them.
You can probably get away with forgoing the color scheming and design of your agency’s brand if your personal brand is already strong enough. Having a following of people who trust and look up to you is the main thing you want to gain by doing any and all of this so it’s certainly skippable.
When it comes down to it, your personal brand is the ultimate fallback — if your company goes bankrupt, your personal brand is still there. If somebody hasn’t heard of your agency work but has heard of you, they’ll happily hire your agency if they know you’ll be even slightly touching their account. You and your name are the concrete examples of things that cannot be tampered with unlike your company or your content.
Deciding to stick with a compelling personal brand will never harm you and only make you more valuable — once you have that figured out and you successfully capture people’s attention and win their trust, you’ll have no problem funneling your agency’s services through your personal brand and building it using that tool.
In fact — you can essentially build any type of audience, gain traffic for any site, and be a successful affiliate for any product once your brand is established. Be careful what you promote and where you’re seen since you’ll find you have to live the life of a public figure, but the fame will bring rewards.
Step Two: Appeal to Your Niche
Branding is — essentially — ensuring others perceive you the way you wish to be perceived. If you’re a premium, luxury, expensive, and exclusive agency, you may want to convey those properties with a shiny and unique website, you and your staff’s wardrobe, and especially the feeling you give off after speaking with clients and prospects.
If you’re running a successful agency with clients in this niche already, you surely know how to appeal to this audience since you’re targeting them already and pleasing them enough to keep them as clients. The difficult part about branding is that it’s not selling.
It may be easier for some people to approach a big city real estate mogul and pitch them on digital service; but how do you make that same mogul stumble upon your website and automatically see the value in what you provide? That’s the challenge of branding that you should surely figure out by talking to clients and studying the work you’re already performing
If you’re building a website and web presence for real estate brokerages already, you know enough of their industry to successful market — simply reverse engineer that and decide what they need to see to urgently and eagerly call you so they can hire your agency.
Step Three: Implement
Once you’ve decided what kind of persona you and your company have to give off, it’s a matter of going through the proper motions to really bring this out into the world.
Your personal brand will never take a break. Every networking event, conference, night out, or even barbecue will either enhance or diminish your personal brand in some way. Always be on the behavior your agency expects of you and try not to break character.
If your agency thrives on being young, hip, and politicaly incorrect, you may have no problem throwing swear words around. If you’re a premium agency that works with top of the line and luxury brands, you may have to ensure you’re always buttoned up with a solid tie.
Why Build a Brand for Your Agency?
As you come across more and more successful digital agencies handling things like app development, digital marketing, and web design, you’ll notice some of them have extremely powerful and touching brands while others are just… there.
You want new clients and current prospects to feel something while they’re talking about you and considering hiring your agency. It is true that you alone will ultimately exude the proper amount of brand for your company, but you won’t always be there giving off this vibe that you hope your clients to have.
Sure, if you are, essentially, a freelancer and work directly with your clients without any overhead nor people in between you, you may get away with less of a brand since you have full control over how you’re being perceived (mostly). The fact is that since you’re growing and scaling your agency, you between more and more disconnected with the people who are paying your agency since you have less time to be that attached to this side of the business.
While focusing on things you can control as an agency CEO, branding falls under your umbrella perfectly. To accomplish the look and feel you may desire, understand that your agency is essentially a client of yours. How would you go about branding and marketing a company that is giving off a luxury aura?
Ultimately, you are probably working with clients already who have the type of brand you want for yourself. You’re attracting these clients somehow — how? Whatever that is, bottle it up and productize it for yourself so you can dogfood the very strategy you’d use to build someone else’s brand this way.
Looking at your competitors is going to be just as valuable as looking at yourself. You currently have a brand whether you like it or not — you probably also have clients. Your competitors have a brand whether they like it or not — they likely have clients as well. Evaluate where they are in association with what kind of clients they have.
Do your competitors have a younger and more fun brand with a beach and summer vibe and manage to land luxury hotel and timepiece clients? If this is the case while your brand is more mountainy and only gets you local 50-agent real estate brokerages, you may need to reassess your brand. Clearly, the brand and the clients aren’t 100% correlated. Look at the founder, sales executives, and account holders as well. In the rare occasion that the founder’s family is associated with these high-end brands which are their only in would ensure for a headache on your end when you try and decipher how they’re managing so much success.
How to Determine What Kind of Brand Your Agency Should Have
Determining what kind of brand you should have depends on what kind of company you’re running and what kind of company you wish to run.
Firstly, where are you located? An agency in Manhattan would have a very different feel than one located in Denver. Similarly, an agency in Manhattan might even have a very different feel than one in Brooklyn.
Location only matters when you’re dealing with local clients as well. Most agencies will be meeting face-to-face with prospects if you’re only a commoditized service. Unless you’re handling extremely specialized services, you should stick to local accounts anyway and, thus, the local branding will only enhance your agency.
After you factor in your location, you have to reflect on the niche or industries you’re serving. Again, figure out how your current (and prospective) clients are driving traffic to their brand and slightly emulate that formula for building traffic for yourself.
When Should You Work On Your Agency’s Brand
Building a brand for your agency should take a back seat at first.
Networking, learning the trade, building relationships, and studying competition are all more important than this. Calaboration’s brand has even taken a backseat for quite some time — the beauty is that although the very company we’re working out of hasn’t even a fully comprehensive brand, we’re still creating brands and driving results for other companies and profiting off it.
Further, a brand is only valuable when people are looking at it — people are going to have difficulty hearing or learning about a brand without the visuals accompanying anything. With this in mind, understand that unless you’ve traffic to your site or presenting at trade shows with large banners and literature, what is your brand for?
Since your personal brand and reputation are going to continue doing much of the work for you, perhaps a visual brand isn’t as crucial as you may imagine unless you’re in the environments where it is absolutely necessary like presentations or a high-traffic online presence.
Once your agency has hit any sort of profitability — which should be very soon since digital agencies require very little overhead — you should focus on inbound traffic, nearly-automatic sales, and driving most of that with your brand. Notice how we don’t spend months upfront building out a premium website and thick & scented proposal stationery. These are great features to have for your agency but aren’t nearly as important as getting the work first.
You’ll get the higher-end clients once you do have the scented paper, but building a brand for your agency is going to take too much time with too little of a reward in the short term. Focus on sales and profits before spending energy on your brand.
Now That You’ve Built Your Agency’s Brand…
Once you’ve built the brand, cultivate it. Advertise it and let the world (and prospects) know what you’re all about.
If you’ve done the steps above well, this process will happen by itself and ultimately market your business for you. Again, the goal of this agency is that it runs itself and your work here is minimal. The brand will constantly sell for you and it’s important for you to market and cultivate it properly.
Ensure your body language, reputation, and personal brand are always lined up with the brand you’ve put all this time into and you’ll notice those you meet and even those you’ve never heard of will come to you soliciting instead of the other way around.