A short guide to Hiring a brand strategist
Let’s start with what qualifies me to lead your brand strategy.
First, let’s walk through a few of my career wins as a creative leader:
As creative director for a powerhouse nonprofit brand, my creative media work was regularly seen by live audiences of 400 to 2500 people and sponsored by the likes of JC Penney, Chick-fil-a, and Gatorade. That same work, to this day, has helped raise several million dollars.
13 of my former volunteer designers, filmmakers, and photographers have gone on to start their own creative media companies!
My brand strategies & designs today are regularly experienced by big time audiences like global brands, Hollywood producers/entertainers, corporate executives, and others. But my creative roots are grounded in nonprofit creative work (meaning I don’t carry a pretentious ego).
In 2017, a multi-billion dollar insurance client hired me to get marketing initiatives moving in their Seattle office. One of those projects was a multi-million dollar win for them that you can read about in my blog.
Several Southern California high school track stars were recruited in 2019 by D1 track programs after their coach hired me to concept a pitch deck series to get the attention of college programs.
I’ve rebranded several companies in the last 5 years including a major global helicopter company, and brands in other sectors including sports, entertainment, aerospace, tech, real estate, travel, nonprofit, apparel, food, and finance.
In 2010 I concepted and created a wilderness "tribal competition" designed for college men to connect. That annual event is now known as Survivor Weekend, an award-winning, premiere event for 500+ college men & women at several universities.
Finding the right leader who’s both talented AND LIKABLE is critical, and in this case it goes both ways. I used to do a la carte style one-off projects for clients. These days, I choose medium to long term partnerships with a specific tier of client. You’re a good fit for me if you fit into most of these profiles:
You could hire like this…
You’ve been thinking of hiring a talented, young, full-time designer but aren’t ready yet to hire one for $55k per year + benefits…and who’s going to direct them? And can he or she simultaneously develop your brand strategy while they’re designing?
Or maybe you’d like a seasoned, full-time creative director or marketing director, but their $100k (minimum) salary + benefits doesn't come with day-to-day design skills.
Ok what about some good freelance designers? While they probably have great design chops, they won’t have the bandwidth for the strategy activities necessary to conceptualize and drive your brand to the next level because they’ll be “head down” on your projects. Oh and, they have several other clients with deadlines.
Resist the quick hire temptation just to “get something out there” or get someone in a seat. Your company is in high demand, trending upward so branding/marketing mistakes will be risky and leave visible scars.
What if you hired like this instead…
You still have the opportunity to punch above your weight class if you’re willing to bring on the right creative leader to lead the process. At your stage and pace, your time & personnel are limited. So our goal is to create a scenario whereby you’re able to effectively hand-off creative marketing and walk away. If you can focus on what you do best, I’m doing my job right. So by hiring me, you’re really hiring a “micro-agency” that is capable of representing and quarterbacking a larger team of experts who are working on your brand initiatives.
Yes, I like this! How much will it cost?
Brand strategy rates are valued at $2k--$50k depending on your company size, revenue, etc.
WHAT YOU’RE BUYING In this phase, I’ll work directly with your decision makers crafting high-level brand concepts that will direct the vision and image of your company. This 2 to 3 month stage would follow my method and involve meetings & phone calls, and remote work-out of your hair-whatever it takes to ultimately package a winning brand strategy majoring on things like researching, concepting, sketching, and strategizing with you. Blueprint stuff. Whiteboard stuff! All to get things set using a systematic method and only then, moving on to produce your visuals, messaging, and beyond. Together, we’ll lean on my experience as a designer, producer, and creative director to fully develop your brand strategy which will power all your creative marketing initiatives for the near future. We’d follow this process of deliverables and timetables:
STEP 1. Assessment of your history, goals, biz DNA. I have a list of 10 interview questions I’ll ask. (1 week)
STEP 2. Craft company themes & story with a “branding workflow” (1 week)
STEP 3. Tag line zingers (1 week)
STEP 4. Name brand (if needed) (1-2 weeks)
STEP 5. Visual identity concepts, logo solution concept, and logo design (3-8 weeks)
STEP 6. Colors (1 week)
Then What? What about projects like websites, presentations…coffee mugs?
Once the brand strategy is set, and if you’re still not ready to hire a full-time marketing department, and you like working with me, you can retain my services as your micro-agency. Because now that you have a great brand, there are projects that need to get done right!? I can quarterback it all.
Retain my micro-agency partnership for:
5 hours per week for 6-months = $12,000
5 hours per week for 1-year = $20,000
10 hours per week for 6-months = $24,000
10 hours per week for 1-year = $42,000
For those rates, you’re hiring a creative director/manager/strategist. But, we’ll need to activate some specialists on the project work. I will pull in creative talent who can execute the brand vision on projects you have the budget for. They’d be hired separately to execute on projects, while I coordinate their deadlines within the weekly time you’ve purchased. My creatives would invoice your company separately for their work. Here are some typical project needs that thriving young companies can hand off to my micro-agency:
Application of your new logo across existing marketing collateral or designing new collateral.
Website design + ongoing management.
Photography. Especially photos of your team and products/services.
Integration of the new brand with Social Media, and attaching social media management.
Video strategy & projects.
Ongoing brand strategy: “what if we did this…” that is, someone who’s always thinking about what we can do better, more of, less of, etc.
Advising company leadership on creative talent hiring, contracting, vetting skills, etc. Managing the creatives.