Does Your Branding Expert Do This? 5 Best Practice Non-Negotiables

June 12, 2024

brand development

You know that saying “there are plenty of fish in the sea”? Well, it’s especially true when it comes to branding experts. Except some of the fish are radioactive and a surprising number don’t respond to your emails. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you already know branding isn’t just about creating a splashy logo or catchy tagline. It’s about constructing an entire identity for your company, product, or service. 

Back to the original analogy, finding the right branding partner is a little bit like dating: some will be awful, most will be fine, but only a few are going to have exactly what you’re looking for. So, what are the best practice non-negotiables to look for in your branding partner? We’re so glad you asked. 

Branding experts vs. Marketing pros

Specifics matter, especially when you’re building a support team. So, what is a branding expert? In general, they’re strategists and designers who help construct a brand’s visual identity. That includes everything from essential branding elements, like your logo and colors, to your website, mission statement, and key talking points. Some may also have specialized offerings, like brand voice ideation, social media template development, and more.

On the other hand, marketing experts take your brand identity and put it to work. You can think of it this way: if branding experts build the car, marketing experts take it for a drive. Their domain includes things like marketing campaigns, social media management, and advertising. While some creative agencies support both branding and marketing efforts, they’re generally two distinct offerings. 

What to expect from your branding expert

When you’re choosing a branding expert, you should expect someone who takes a comprehensive approach to both strategic and creative elements. While the specifics will vary from brand to brand, in general you should look for the following non-negotiables. 

They ask questions that matter (and understand your vibe)

A professional brand design expert needs to get to the heart of a brand and really understand what makes it tick. More often than not, that means getting into the founder’s head. With a deep appreciation and understanding of your Why, branding experts can create something that reflects your authentic values and resonates with your ideal audiences. 

Your brand should also be an expression of you and your values, not just an industry cookie cutter. To capture that, your branding expert should be committed to learning more about what makes your brand tick. What’s your style? How do you want to interact with your customers? What do people need from a brand like yours? The very best branding experts can even help YOU  get clearer on the answers to these questions. If the first step in your branding project isn’t digging into your 4-Ws—Who, Where, What, & Why—you may want to reconsider. 

They use industry & market research

No brand exists in a bubble. If your branding expert doesn’t dedicate time to research your industry and market, you run the risk of a few different things. First, you might end up with a brand that gets lost in the crowd. To do something different, your designer needs to know what’s already out there. 

Second, you could end up with a brand that falls flat. Industry and market research means audience research. That includes learning about their values, behaviors, pain points, and what lights them up or turns them off. By building a brand that reflects your audience’s real life needs, they can design creative that establishes a deeper emotional connection with your potential customers.

Last but certainly not least, market research helps you and your branding team make informed decisions as you move forward with your strategy. It lets you identify potential threats and opportunities well ahead of time so you can be proactive not reactive in your business and branding.

Clear expectations & checkpoints

Imagine it: you’ve been working with a brand designer for a few months. You’re in the final stages of logo revision, you’ve got the colors locked down, and your website is in final pre-launch checks. Which is great news, because you’re attending a conference this weekend that’s going to drive lots of potential clients to contact you. The only problem: the conference is next week and your designer is suddenly MIA. 

It never feels good to get ghosted, especially when you’ve invested serious time, energy, and money into a branding project. So finding a branding expert with pristine communication skills is essential. 

When you’re interviewing potential branding experts, the following questions can be game changers. You’ll want to ask: 

  • How they communicate
  • How often they’ll be checking in
  • What checkpoints to expect during your project’s lifespan

You might also want to ask about common milestones and where/when your input will be needed. Finally, ask for an estimated timeline for your project and how much lead time you’ll get if that timeline gets bumped. 

The right brand design expert for your project should keep in close communication and have clear guidelines in place for how, when, and why follow up is necessary. 

They know the importance of storytelling

We’re not talking about entertaining party-goers around the snack table. We’re talking about real storytelling. The ability to create a compelling narrative around your brand, products, and services so that people FEEL something when they encounter your stuff. 

Storytelling helps humanize your brand, making it easier to relate to and trust interactions with your brand. When your brand’s mission and values are woven into its very identity—every word, image, and element—there’s no way to lose with your super fan brand evangelists. 

They balance details and the big picture

For many branding experts, it can be easy to get “stuck in the weeds” on a project. And there’s nothing wrong with hyper focusing on the specific angle of a single line in the logo. After all, the devil’s in the details. BUT! It’s just as important to keep an eye on the horizon and prioritize big picture thinking. 

For branding experts, big picture thinking means keeping the overall vision, long-term goals, and broader context in mind during the brand design process. It helps create a cohesive experience of the brand while also supporting growth and evolution along any number of paths. 

Consider Apple, for example. The Apple brand is all about simplicity, innovation, and premium quality. They showcase this commitment in every element of their branding—from clean, intuitive packaging design to product design and user interfaces. 

The right branding expert can serve as a touchstone for years to come, guiding your band’s evolution and growth while maintaining cohesion. 

Find a Branding Expert That Works With You

There are lots of options out there when it comes to choosing a branding expert. But not all of them will be the right choice for your brand. In general, the strongest branding experts are the ones who can work with you to create something cohesive, powerful, and truly reflective of your brand’s mission and values. 

At Lunar Creative, we love getting to know our clients on a personal basis. We’ve invested in helping entrepreneurs and small business owners craft their identity and tell their story. If you’re interested in getting started, get in touch! We’d love to discuss your next project. 

Want to see more of our work? You can check it out here

branding expert best practices list