Choosing the Right Firm
Navigating the market to find a brand strategy consulting firm that is a good fit for your brand can be tricky. Finding the firm that brings the relevant expertise is important. Firms that offer brand strategy consulting can be classified into several different categories. Each firm has a different center of gravity and delivery model that the savvy client will want to consider in choosing a brand strategy consulting firm.
Brand Strategy Consulting: “The Generalist”
There are several large generalist consulting firms with practice areas across several disciplines. Within these generalist firms, several claim a focus on brand strategy including:
- Bain & Company leverages “a data driven approach by an inclusive and diverse teams,” and encourages the prospect client to avoid a “brand genius.”
- L.E.K. Consulting takes the opposite tactic, delivering experts. “L.E.K. brings experts in brand strategy to help organizations position, develop and invest in your brands to differentiate and drive growth.”
- Other large generalist firms include McKinsey & Company and BCG (the Boston Consulting Group), among others.
On the plus side, these large firms have a broad business perspective and credibility for their analytics. On the downside, while there can be exceptions, typically the consulting team from these generalist firms will be made up of less experienced consultants, who may or may not spend the majority of their time focusing on brand strategy and who may or may not have relevant experience with brands.
Brand Strategy Consulting: “The Brand and Design Agency”
Firms that deliver on redesigning the brand’s mark or logo with heavy emphasis on the design aspects of branding.
- Siegel and Gale defines itself as a “a global branding company…core expertise spans brand development, brand strategy, design.”
- Landor is similarly a “global leader in brand consulting and design.” Over the years, we’ve seen Landor on the short list of brand design firms that large consumer packaged goods clients consider.
There are a number of sources that promise long lists of brand design agencies, including Clutch and InfluencerMarketingHub. On the plus side, these firms will likely deliver compelling brand designs. On the downside, the question is how much of your branding effort should be focused on design, and whether the strategy choices are thoroughly considered.
Brand Strategy Consulting: “The Hybrid Agency and Consulting”
- A firm that was historically well known for brand strategy consulting is Prophet. Today, Prophet positions itself as a broader business transformation consultancy. Starting from its heritage in brand strategy, today’s Prophet offers branding, marketing, design and analytics.
“Prophet is a consultancy that helps our clients unlock uncommon growth in the face of disruption…. From purpose to product, brand to experience, customers to operations, we bring the insight, rigor and expertise needed to both uncover and realize transformation”
On the plus side, Prophet’s growth and expansion means that today it is reportedly known for the rebranding of UBS, T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” positioning. Prophet appears to be competing more with advertising agencies than consultancies. Like with design firms, the client needs to consider how much of the attention will be put on strategy, who is working on the assignment, and their experience level.
Brand Strategy Consulting: “Strategic Experts”
- Equibrand Consulting – Started by a former colleague at The Cambridge Group, Equibrand offers brand and marketing consulting. Focus areas include brand development, marketing strategy, digital marketing, and growth and innovation.
- Insight to Action – Our own firm. Over the years, we’ve observed that brand strategy consulting has become a larger portion of our work at Insight to Action. We’re typically selected when brand strategy is an important part of growth strategy. For instance, in 2020, Insight to Action was selected by a California consumer products company that wanted help with defining its customer target through consumer segmentation, developing a brand architecture for its company trademark and consumer facing brand, and a brand strategy that defined the brand’s pillars for new product expansion, as well as the expansion categories.
On the plus side, these brand strategy firms bring expert teams to focus on your brand. More of your budget will be spent on strategy and making sure there is a clear creative brief to drive execution. On the down side, they will be spending less time on design than the design and brand agencies and less time on general strategy than the generalist consulting firms.
Hopefully, this framework of different types of firms will help you think through the type of firm that’s going to be the most helpful for your brand strategy work. While, of course, we’d like you to choose Insight to Action, the reality is that there are different situations that call for different partners.
Additional case examples of Insight to Action’s work in brand strategy consulting can be found at the brand strategy resources page.