How to select a branding agency to also deliver your website

A little like ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ I thought I would highlight a few key points you should look for when appointing a branding agency.

The following are things we hear anecdotally all the time and often during the early stages of the process.

Do they have in-house developers and coders?

We are often asked to rebrand businesses and then simultaneously deliver a strategic, responsive website. This makes sense to us as we have all the skills in-house to deliver a joined up approach. However, many agencies do not and this key fact materialises way down the line well into the build and when the hard yards are fought. If agencies are honest and there is clarity and a technology contact then that’s fine, but remember if the agency’s freelance ‘tech-lead’ becomes less interested (or falls out with them) you may not receive the continuity and commitment you need. The agency may then need to recruit a specific job spec that is expensive, tricky, unproven and your project becomes a cash burn headache.

Have they done a project like this before?

This doesn’t mean “Have you recently created 200 rebranded websites for our competitors?” but have they conducted the right process at the right level with high calibre clients? Are there examples of similar scale strategy exercises, user-interface detail and technical projects including server side back-end integration examples? And can you talk to them for a reference? We leverage our objective and fresh approach to sectors, but having one or two similar respected success stories always bodes well.

What support do we receive post launch?

If you bought a car from Mercedes-Benz you’d expect a warranty period; attentive after-sales care, responsive remedies to problems and bugs and an expert technical team that know every nut and bolt, who will then service the car as long as you have it. A complex technical product like a sophisticated responsive website is no different. The support should be delivered at various levels from a constant single point of contact in the client service team, a front-end contact for any UI and then a more technical back-end expert for everything CMS and server-side. Again echoing my point above, they should have expert level credentials and done it many times before.

“As with a car, you can enhance performance, upgrade the tyres, supercharge the engine and optimise user experience – so a joined up digital content and search strategy should be a conversation you’ve had or intend to have.”

Again, I’d rather have the Mercedes Formula One Team enhancing my new technically advanced vehicle than a back street mechanic.

Will it work on mobile devices?

This is just the way of the world now. More and more focus is being placed on smartphone and tablet Internet consumption (in B2B and B2C) with every metric moving north versus desktop (although it’s still important). We know through developing fully responsive websites, that mobile interface design and user experience should be prioritised and tested – not just an afterthought. Check the scope and costs and ask about how this factors in your project. Even the least technical CEOs often have an iPad that inevitably will be the device they are approving the development site on.

How will you help me evidence the return on investment?

This we know is often a significant chunk of your marketing budget. You have to start at the end and work back in terms of what KPIs make sense to the business and ensure you have all the analytics factored in, turned on and tracking the right activity.

If you’d like to discuss any of the areas mentioned please drop me a line. Altruistic as we are, of course we’d love to help you if you have a branding or digital project planned for 2015.