I think one question a lot of startups and small businesses have when it comes to thinking about branding is “Should I hire an agency?” And while I think that branding is something you should be absolutely thinking about at the same time as you’re building your business, actually hiring an agency is a bit of a different story.
So frankly put, we don’t recommend hiring an agency straight out the gate unless you have a lot of investment pre-launch (think Allbirds or Casper level investment). At the very beginning, there is a whole lot of things you’re trying to figure out. And there is a whole lot of things you just don’t know yet. This is the chance to really get to know your customer or audience, to really understand who you’re talking to and why. At this stage, the website and logo your non-designer team member made is plenty. Not because it’s perfect or complete but because it's affordable and will help you get off the ground.
Now this does not mean you should be ignoring branding at this stage. It just means you’re probably too early to bring in professionals. Instead, you should be testing your messaging, talking with customers, providing fantastic customer support, and building a deep relationship with your early customers.
Hiring an agency should be like adding fuel to an already burning fire. The more you know about your core customers and why they love you, the more effective your agency can be.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic moment for when you should start thinking about hiring an agency but rather a gut feeling. We often tell folks to think about talking with us when they’re ready to take things to the next level. For some that may be after you’ve raised your Seed round and your logo no longer makes sense. For others it’s when your product is moving from being made in the living room to being made on a production line. And for many, it’s the realization that they are spending a lot more time and energy making assets and designs that don’t actually tell their story in a cohesive manner.
Until then, keep rocking what you're working with! Great brands are built not born.