Top 5 Branding Agencies In The World — November 2022

Last Updated November 1, 2022

Innovative branding companies know that logos and colors no longer define brands. It’s all about a holistic brand experience, where digital and physical touchpoints are intricately intertwined to create a future-forward brand.

Traditional design firms try to catch up to the new connected reality. While any forward-thinking marketing agency will always start with brand strategy, digital branding agencies understand that user experience is the crucial component of any brand these days.

We’ve put together a list of branding firms that help your organization promote its brand values through clever digital marketing. Some come from the traditional design background, while others are digital natives who break the boundaries of a brand. The right branding agency can revolutionize a business. The branding companies below are masters of brand positioning, brand promotion, and branding strategy.

The World’s Best Brand Design Firms — November 2022 Ratings:

1. Clay

As you might imagine, many of the top branding agencies are in major cities, such as London, Paris, New York, or Northern California. Clay is a design and branding agency based in San Francisco that approaches brand design from the UX design angle. They believe modern brands are all about customer experience, so they focus on ensuring that people enjoy every interaction with the brand and remember the most delightful moments.

Clay specializes in building the brand architecture from the ground up, reimagining the brand message in ways only the best branding agencies can. For any company investing in digital marketing to grow their reach and assist with their brand messaging, Clay are digital marketing specialists.

Clay — a branding agency and UI/UX design firm based in SF.
Clay — a branding agency and UI/UX design firm based in SF.

2. Pentagram

Pentagram is the most prominent independent branding agency globally, with an extensive portfolio ranging from government and non-profit to crypto and tech. The brand design studio is run by 23 hands-on designers (who are partners), thus ensuring the utmost quality and commitment in all their brand strategies. Unsurprising, given that they’ve been in the design business for over five decades, and their brand’s reputation is outstanding.

Pentagram — a branding agency and graphic design firm
Pentagram — a branding agency and graphic design firm

3. DesignStudio

Demonstrating how brand naming can clearly define even the top branding agencies, the British creative and market research agency creates brands the world loves and does so globally with four US, UK, China, and Australia offices. This design agency became world-famous after working with Airbnb on their radical rebranding. Since then, their client base has been primarily digital products and services, and they’ve become a full-service digital design agency covering all aspects of the brand experience.

DesignStudio — a branding firm and digital creative agency
DesignStudio — a branding firm and digital creative agency

4. Collins

Collins is a strategy and branding design firm that has aided many popular existing brands reposition within their markets. Prominent rebrands that gave companies a strong brand voice include Spotify, Sweetgreen, Robinhood, and Medium. They can demonstrate brand values that have earned them the loyalty of a number of high-profile companies. Founded by graphic designer Brian Collins the branding firm has two outposts in NYC and SF. Their approach to branding is systematic, where brand communications are equally important as logo design.

Collins — a brand design firm and creative agency
Collins — a brand design firm and creative agency

5. Kurppa Hosk

The only Swedish agency on our list, and one of our favorite brand consultancy firms, Kurppa Hosk, came into prominence due to its refined Scandinavian aesthetics and tasteful modernism-inspired graphic design. Their most notable clients include Pinterest, Stellar, and Superlative. They position themselves as a strategic partner that helps transform businesses more significantly than their brand positioning. They are not just a plain old creative firm.

Kurppa Hosk — a brand design agency based in Stockholm
Kurppa Hosk — a brand design agency based in Stockholm

Ready to jump in and hire an agency for your branding project? We recommend that you read the tips below first.

Why is Branding Such a Big Deal?

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash
Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

There is more to a brand than simply a well-designed company image. At the heart of a brand is tonality and consistency that must come across in all communications — this is the brand voice that all branding firms will seek to develop for their clients. A brand is the company’s identity in visual and verbal forms. It communicates a story about the company and why it is unique to potential or current customers. Good branding is well understood and recognized, two factors significant to a company’s success.

Brand recognition means somebody sees a brand and knows right away what the company is and what it does. Recognition is nearly universal for some of the largest brands out there. One critical branding goal is to increase recognition beyond the current users or customers of the product or service and spread this recognition further afield.

Some of the best-known brands include Adidas, Apple, Pepsi, and Microsoft. Nearly everyone who sees one of these brands can recognize it straight away. It is recognition that makes a brand into a household name. This keeps the product or service of the company circulating, which in turn leads to an increase in sales.

What are Branding Experts?

Branding experts and brand designers are not simply illustrators or designers. They need to understand every step of the branding process. Branding can be expensive, time-consuming, and delicate, so it must be done accurately and precisely. If a brand does not come out well the first time, money and time are wasted. A branding expert is someone who makes sure every step during brand creation is professionally planned as well as executed.

Photo by Patrik Michalicka on Unsplash
Photo by Patrik Michalicka on Unsplash

Although a new company is likely to have founders with a clear brand vision, they don’t have the experience or skills to turn this vision into reality. That is where the branding experts come in. These experts can organize the necessary details and steps in the branding strategy, the three pillars: brand development, brand strategy, and brand positioning. There are more detailed steps in each of these three sectors.

In addition, brand design experts can actualize conceptual visions in real-world conditions since they are familiar with many brands and know why some fail and others succeed. Brand positioning involves designing a logo or creating an image, but there is much more to it. It is about situating a brand in a resonating, effective way for the relevant audience and market.

A branding professional also has to be an excellent communicator. This expert will be able to discuss visions and ideas with the client throughout the process and also be able to explain what is working and what is not clear. Being a master of communication is essential for a branding professional, as this is important to create brands close to the client’s original vision.

Where are the best brand design firms situated?

The answer may vary depending on who you ask, but a few cities stand out as homes to top branding agencies. New York City, London, and Paris are all major global hubs for businesses and therefore attract some of the best branding talents in the world. There are also huge numbers of top branding agencies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami. While there are many top branding firms located in these cities, the competition is fierce. As such, it is important to research and find a firm that best suits your needs and budget.

Working with a Branding Agency: FAQs

Find out more about how to hire the right brand consultancy for your business.

Q: What is the price of branding company services?

This depends on your requirements. A brand design price could be $10,000 or $100,000 or even more. The more brand design iterations you want, the more it will likely cost. After finishing the branding tasks, you should be given all the source materials by the agency.

Once you factor in these, $100,000 might not even be the top price. Some of the biggest and best digital marketing firms might charge $100,000 for the brand strategy alone. Include research, messaging, visual design, tone of voice, and other brand components, and you might end up with a high 6-figure amount.

However, if you don’t have that much to spend, it is still possible to hire a smaller company that will offer excellent, thorough branding services for much less.

Q: What deliverables do I get from a branding agency?

It is important to know exactly what will be supplied by the brand design firm you hire. These are some of the things you should expect to get in a branding package:

Naming

Digital marketing firms usually use brainstorming sessions to help them develop exciting, fitting names for the client’s business. To begin with, you will get a list of names to consider. Consider narrowing it down to the ones you prefer or requesting a second brainstorming session if none of the agency’s suggestions appeal to you.

Developing a visual identity

Once you have a name picked out, the design team will talk to you about the vision for your business. It is essential to give them plenty of honest input at this stage. Next, the branding firm will conduct more research and deliver initial design concepts. You should participate in these research sessions to help get the aptest results. Ask how many revisions you get in the package and how much extra every new change would cost.

Design Production

After concept approval, the agency will give you the final artwork for the logo in agreed-upon formats. They will also give you the files in various formats, so you can use them for different purposes.

Extras

The basics are naming, deciding on visual identity, and design production. You might also get some extra elements, such as:

Brand guidelines

This brand bible has specific details about your business’s branding, with a bare minimum of your logos and information about how they will be used, colors, and their codes, plus typographic details such as fonts.

Print material

Some signage will be necessary if you have a physical storefront. You’ll likely need business cards, company letterhead, and other offline materials.

Email and social media templates

Your business should customize social media and email marketing templates. However, starting with standard templates to leverage your new branding might be a good idea.

Q: Is it better to hire a branding identity agency or a full-range digital advertising or marketing company?

The great thing about a brand design firm is that it will look at the brand’s big picture, including the reputation, value, image, or philosophy behind the company. A customer can think about it as their perception of a business and how they are experiencing it, then decide whether it adds something meaningful to their life. A thoughtful brand is supposed to connect the product or service and the end customer.

So think about branding as a ‘why’ and advertising as a ‘what.’ That means marketing is the ‘how’ of the company. Advertising is about concept development that draws customers to your business, and marketing should convert your company’s goals into sales.

You can add in later elements since branding supports the whole infrastructure. It often makes the most sense to work on one thing at a time, first branding and then marketing and advertising.

It is a critical investment to hire a brand design firm, but it is not an investment that will bring immediate returns. Even so, it is still a step well worth taking during the early days of your company.

Q: How long does the branding process take?

It is crucial to define precisely what you require. For example, suppose you want an all-encompassing, comprehensive branding service. In that case, you should start with consumer insights and strategy development before moving on to the logo’s look, feel, and design. Such a project might take up to a year if you deal with a brand new service or product. If you are redesigning an existing brand, expect it to take 6 to 9 months.

Also, consider your new brand identity, which is your logo, fonts, colors, and other style guide elements. All of these are necessary elements for brand recognition. This can take up to 3 months to finish. If you’re creating a new brand, it might take up to 6–9 months from A to Z.

Q: How much does brand identity matter?

Brand identity is critical for how well your brand will stand out from the competition. Recognizable, unique brand features to promote a business are the best-known elements. Various parts of a company play a vital role, with a brand name, tagline, and logo.

However, brand identity goes one step further, encompassing all visual and verbal aspects involved in the whole process to create a consistent brand voice. Each of these plays its role in brand identity:

Identity

This is the company’s expression of the outside world and how your target customer will perceive your brand. Identity is significant for a company because its brand image will be based on it.

Consistency and continuity

Consistency is perhaps the most crucial part of branding-related. Creating an outward expression and keeping it consistent is vital to generating the correct perception of the brand.

Uniqueness

A brand stands apart from the competition using differentiation, which is also fundamental for positioning strategies.

Personality

The brand identity visually communicates the brand’s personality. Brand strategies consistently create a brand image that audiences will relate to, always associating the brand with whatever products or services it provides.

Q: What skills does a branding agency offer?

You can expect a wide range of skills and services from most creative firms. They will often have new, developing capabilities alongside core skills. You might like to take a closer look at the company’s employees to give you an idea of where the company’s specific strengths lie. Explore the agency website or check out the employees on LinkedIn to see how many employees are in each specialty and what skills they offer.

For example, how many brand designers and strategists at a senior level are in the agency? If only one designer or copywriter exists, the agency might be weak in some areas and be founded upon strength in one specialist area, while larger firms tend to have more staff and can offer a more generalist approach, covering all areas.

Q: What are some tips for choosing the best branding agency or creative firm?

Making the best choice is critical since it will affect the success of your business. For the best results, consider the following factors before making a final decision:

Do your due diligence

Before you hire a branding agency, it is important to do your research. Make sure that you look at the agency’s experience and reputation. This will help make sure that you get the best service possible. If you are unsure where to start, you can ask for recommendations from friends or business associates.

When you have narrowed down your options, look at the portfolios of the agencies you are considering. This will give you a good idea of their creative capabilities. Make sure that they have experience with businesses like yours.

Look at how they rank, which companies are most highly regarded in your region, and tap into your network. You can rule out any which are way beyond your budget.

Consider your objectives

Before working with any brand strategy service, you must consider what you want to achieve. Do you want to create awareness for your brand? Do you want to increase sales? Once you have a clear idea of your objectives, you can start looking for an agency to help you achieve them.

You should be specific about the objectives of your project. Map out these goals before getting in touch with the management team from the consulting services.

Have a realistic budget

Prices fluctuate from agency to agency. This means it’s a good idea to figure out your budget before even approaching branding agencies.

Explain what you can afford, but don’t just concentrate on price. They will provide you with a range of products and budgets, beginning with your stated budget and upselling potentially useful services that may even be offered with a discount.

It is important to remember that you get what you pay for. When it comes to branding, cheap does not always mean better. Choose an agency you feel you can trust to do a good job, even if it costs a bit more.

Consider the timing

It is essential to communicate with the branding agency about your timing expectations. When do you need the project completed? Make sure you leave some wiggle room in your timeline in case of unforeseen delays.

You should also ask the agency how long they think the project will take. This will give you a better idea of their timeline and help you plan accordingly.

You must consider your timeline and be clear to the agency as much as possible so that the agency can provide you with an accurate quote and delivery schedule.

Narrow down relevant creative companies

Discuss your brand positioning and guidelines with a few design agencies and shortlist those with excellent reputations and strong portfolios. If you are just starting gout, don’t be afraid to study an existing brand to get a feel for the market and industry trends. If you’re happy with an agency’s work on other projects, there’s a good chance they will do an excellent job for you.

Choose a Top 3

After you have selected a branding agency or creative firm, it is important to evaluate their proposal carefully. Make sure that you understand the project’s scope and that all your expectations are clear.

Once you have shortlisted the top brand strategy services, narrow it down to just three brand consultancy firms and give each one the same information about your project. Compare each proposal, price, and suggested timings to make an informed decision.

Let them pitch you

Pick 2 of the 3 agencies and listen to their pitch. The best branding companies are the ones that align with your vision.

The agency you feel is the closest match to your project requirements, and the desired outcome should be selected. This is usually the branding firm that will produce the best results.

Q: How much does a brand identity agency charge for a branding session?

All brand design firms have their own pricing structures, and costs can vary widely depending on the location, size, and experience of the firm and the scope of the project. Anywhere between $200 and $700 per hour is standard for an agency, so a branding session is likely to cost a couple of thousand dollars.

Q: What to look for when selecting a brand design company?

The first place most prospective clients will look when vetting a brand agency is the portfolio, and this is certainly important. Many agencies specialize in particular sectors or have a distinctive style, and the portfolio is a good way to get an idea of the agency’s strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also get to see if they’re worked with any big-name brands and how they delivered on different briefs and objectives. It’s a good sign if you can see a diversified body of work, showing the agency work with a vast array of brands rather than being restrained to its own signature style.

Yet it’s not all about the technical abilities and skills of the firms. If you want a pleasant and smooth experience, you should also pay attention to factors such as the speed of responses to your messages, how well the team listens to your requests, and whether the company has a finely-oiled process to carry out its projects.

A professional brand identity agency should be more than willing to give you a free consultation to give you an idea of how it fares in these respects, as well as a chance to discuss any concerns and ensure that the team understands your vision.

Q: How long does a rebranding take?

There will be some variation between the processes of different agencies, and the length of time also depends on the scope of your project — a complete corporate branding is going to take longer than a simple logo design. However, if you want a complete rebranding process, between three and six months is a typical timeframe, with larger projects taking up to two years.

Q: How much does a rebranding cost?

A rebranding will typically be cheaper than carrying out branding services from scratch since the agency will already have some research and strategic direction to work with. But it’s typically still a pricey job if you want to carry out a thorough refresh of all aspects. The most affordable package would be around $30,000, but the cost can be closer to $100,000 for bigger companies with more requirements.

A Closer Look at the Process of Brand Identity Design

Designing a brand identity should be rewarding as well as intricate. Although a brand designer will try to create the best brand identities, things occasionally go wrong. All branding designers and most creative agencies will follow a similar process to ensure the results meet the buyer’s requirements.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It is essential to know there are various methods to handle this process. Nearly all companies will approach the process based on the team, skillset specialties, and other elements.

There are two significant elements in the process, which are, first of all, the client onboarding process and then the creative aspects. We can look closer at both of these:

Client Onboarding: What to Expect

Although client meetings vary, there are a few things in common with each client, no matter who your appointment is.

The branding identity agency will do some research before meeting with the client. This research thoroughly investigates the client’s business, social media accounts, projects, products, and easily accessible information. This research is used for questions, observations, and possible solutions encountered at an early stage to get a good idea of what the client is requesting or looking for.

The client will have the opportunity of reviewing this research during the meeting, along with any preliminary prep work the agency can share. Trust can be built between the client and the agency during this first stage.

Neither the client nor the agency will want to waste time only to learn the price was too high. For that reason, during this initial meeting, the digital agency team will suggest an estimated schedule for project completion. If you feel your project should not take so long, remember that these timing estimates are typically longer than they end up being.

The first meeting between branding firm representatives and the client is helpful to discover common ground for both parties before diving into a more serious discussion of the project.

The Brand Design Brief

If the initial meeting is a success, the next step is usually the branding company team discussing what they learned about the client’s wishes and expectations and the project before preparing their final offer.

This is when the agency creates a design brief. No two design briefs are the same. The agency might create it using an online form tool, or they might prefer to email a separate document to you.

The information you give the digital creative agency in the design brief will affect the project’s outcome and the work itself. You might accidentally give inadequate or too-short answers to some design brief questions since you are not a designer. For this reason, you might be asked to answer more specifically. Before the project kicks off, everything must be clear between the branding firm and you.

The Brand Design Proposal

During this stage, the full-service branding agency creates a document called a design proposal. This well-designed document will help guide both you and the agency and covers these points:

  • Agency services and other relevant information
  • Personal presentation of the agency
  • Agency’s top work case studies pertinent to your project
  • Scope of work for your project
  • Timeline, deliverables & budget

Once you receive this document, you will need to approve it. At this stage, you can continue discussions if you need to clarify anything between yourself and the branding company. You can still discuss and negotiate if you think it is too high. To speed things up, be as precise as you can be when talking about the scope of the work and the budget so that you can forgo endless back and forth discussions.

If you only want to separate brand identity from the digital agency and you need to design, for example, a website, ensure you talk about this before the actual project commences. If not, it will be a separate issue from the agreed-upon work’s current scope. To summarize, you must clearly understand what is needed to design your brand identity and describe it precisely and accurately to avoid misunderstandings.

The Contract

You have to have a contract. It will ensure accurate results and professionalism for you and the creative team. You usually have to pay a percentage of the project cost upfront before starting any project work. You can look at contract templates that have been written and vetted by designers.

After discussing and agreeing with everything in the document, the next stage is to sign the contract and transfer the deposit, so the brand design firm can start working.

How Exactly the Branding Process Works

It isn’t possible to detail the exact branding design process the agency will use simply because each design firm has its way of doing things. However, some points are similar for all agencies.

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash
Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

The following represents how top branding agencies typically approach projects, but it is not necessarily accurate for every brand agency.

Brand Research

Brand design professionals will proceed with research when they are clear about your company’s personality and the goals that have been set. Whether creating a website or logo, this step is vital to every design project.

Brand Strategy

It is critical to have a comprehensive brand strategy to map out the path enabling growth. Developing this successfully requires creativity and logical thinking because brand strategy creation has to work externally and internally. A solid brand strategy will clarify the following:

  • Brand vision & values
  • Advantages over competition
  • Target markets
  • Brand personality
  • Brand proposition and promise

Visual Identity Design

The branding team will review the strategy report and analysis and then use creativity and experience to convert the brand strategy into digital products that help identify the company and boost brand recognition. This process requires time and patience and typically means many ideas will be presented to be narrowed down into one concept.

Brand Assets

During this part of the process, the visual identity concept is applied to various mediums serving as a contact point between your business and your clients. The brand assets might include some of the following items:

  • Social media assets
  • Business cards, leaflets, signage, brochures, and other print material
  • Presentation templates
  • Website
  • Physical and digital product design
  • Corporate merch (t-shirts, hoodies, backpacks, etc.)

The visual identity can now be tested in real applications in this process, rather than just the hypothetical ones from before. When it is clear that everything works well, all the touchpoints can be finalized. Next, the creative

Branding agencies will prepare all brand identity deliverables in all required formats and guidelines to ensure brand consistency in your marketing strategy.

10 Questions To Ask a Branding Agency Before Hiring One

1. What is the purpose of brand design firms?

Branding agencies help companies create and maintain a strong and consistent brand identity. They develop and implement marketing strategies that promote the company’s products or services and help to increase brand awareness and recognition.

2. What is a creative branding agency?

A creative branding agency is a marketing and advertising agency that specializes in creating and executing branding campaigns for businesses. Branding agencies aim to help businesses build and maintain a strong, recognizable brand that will resonate with consumers and help the business achieve its marketing and sales goals.

3. Why do I need a branding agency?

Whether you need assistance from a branding design agency depends on many factors, such as your company’s size, budget, and marketing goals. If you are a small business owner, you may be able to handle your branding efforts independently. However, your best efforts may never produce the brand voice and overall message that branding companies could produce for you. A branding agency can be worth every penny for large organizations with the budget to invest.

4. How can a branding and marketing agency help my business?

Branding agencies help businesses create a name and design that represents their company well. They also do market research to see what other companies are doing and how their brand recognition can be improved. Additionally, they can create marketing and advertising campaigns that will help promote your company’s products or services. Ultimately, a branding agency can help increase your company’s visibility and grow your customer base. Branding agencies can cover many branding web services, from logo design to web development.

5. What is the difference between a marketing agency and strategic branding agency?

Most marketing agencies offer a wide range of services that can include brand strategy, but not all brand strategists are associated with a marketing agency. The main difference between the two is that a marketing agency is more focused on the overall promotion and visibility of a company, while strategists are more concerned with developing and defining the image and identity of a company. While both are important in reaching the target audience, most businesses will use both services to create a well-rounded marketing and branding plan to reach their target audience.

6. I’ve heard of brand architecture, but what is it?

Broadly speaking, brand architecture is a framework that defines how a company’s various brands relate to one another. Brand architecture aims to clarify and understand the relationships between brands so that consumers can more easily navigate the company’s product offerings.

7. Will I get help with brand naming?

Yes, you will get help with brand naming from a brand design company. A brand design company can help you create a name for your business that is memorable and reflects your company’s values. The team at a brand design company will work with you to understand your business and its goals to create a name perfect for your brand.

8. What will I get from a brand consultancy?

A brand consultancy will help you create a solid and recognizable brand. A brand consultancy can help you with all aspects of branding, from research and strategy to design and implementation. A brand consultancy will work with you to understand your business and its goals and create a strategy to help you achieve them through digital products, such as logo design, guidelines, etc.

9. Do brand identity agencies help with social media marketing?

The level of assistance a brand design agency can provide with social media will vary depending on the agency’s specific services. However, many brand design agencies offer media services in some form and can help businesses create and implement effective online strategies.

10. What’s the difference between a brand and a business?

A brand is the identity of a business, while a business is an actual company or organization. While they seem closely intertwined, they are different. Branding companies help businesses create and establish their brand identity while providing other marketing and advertising services.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a top-notch branding agency, be sure to keep the following things in mind. The team at your chosen agency should be able to understand your vision and help you execute it flawlessly. They should also have a wealth of experience with various branding projects and be up to date on the latest trends. By asking the right questions and doing your research, you can find an agency that will help take your business to the next level.

Thanks for reading!

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