Tips for selecting a branding agency for financial start-ups

A hand reaching out and picking up an apple

Louise Stevens

Client Services and Operations Director

Posted on February 18, 2019

Congratulations, you’ve decided to take the leap and start your own business. Whether this is your first business or your tenth, you’ll understand that defining the brand for your financial start-up is one of the most important things to get right early on.

But how do you choose the right agency to partner with? Where do you find them? Can you afford them? Will you have to direct them every step of the way? If these are the questions, you’re asking yourself right now, then this blog should help you gain some clarity on the best process to find, approach and select the right branding agency for you.

1. Define what you want from an agency

Create your list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice to haves’.

Do they need to have knowledge of your industry and audience? Are you quite a hands on person and would prefer to meet face-to-face with them regularly, if so, location might be key.

Think about your future requirements, getting an agency up to speed with your business can take time, so don’t select a brand only agency if you might also need a website and ongoing marketing support in the future.

And importantly, define a rough budget for the work and your desired timescales.

2. Find them

Seek referrals

Here’s where your list of LinkedIn connections comes in to play. Ask your peers for a referral, this is a great way to get inside information on potential agency partners and find some you might not otherwise be able to locate.

Google Search

As you have now completed step 1, you now know if you want a financial sector brand specialist in London, or an agency who are asset manager brand specialists. Pop your desired terms in to Google and see what comes up.

Find out who developed the work you like

If there is a competitor or another brand that you particularly like the look of, use Google to find the agency that delivered the work, to see if they might be a fit for you.

3. Approaching an agency

So now you know what you want from an agency and have a list of agencies you would like to get in touch with, but what should you do next?

Start with a few

Have a quick call with a handful of agencies you like the look of, see if there is any initial chemistry, what they say about their business and their work and test the waters with your budgets and timescales.

Whittle it down

From your calls you’ll have an idea of who you got a good feeling from and who you didn’t, invite the agencies (maximum of 3) that you liked in for a face to face, where you can tell them more about the business, what makes you different and your objectives. Allow them the time to ask you questions and to tell you more about themselves.

Get them back in to present

Following this face to face you might want to ask the agencies to prepare a short presentation for you, giving you an overview of how they would work with you, their approach to projects like yours, similar work they have delivered and costs and timings. Don’t be disheartened if the agencies won’t produce free creative ideas for you, they can demonstrate their skills through existing client work and you’ll get a real sense of what they are good at and how they work with clients from this.

4. Making the final decision

Do your goals align?

In the final proposals from the agencies, does it seem that their goals are aligned with your own? Did you get a sense of passion and excitement from them about the potential work – or do you suspect you may be just another small fish in a big pond?

Who will you be working with?

This is key to establish. Have you met all or most of the people you would be working with or have you just met the New Business Director and Account Director who might disappear off into the sunset as soon as you sign on the dotted line.

Do they produce good work?

Did they competently and clearly explain the stories behind their case studies, who was the client, what was the brief, how they approached it and what results they delivered? Did they give you a sense that they could do this for you?

Is there chemistry?

Finally, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your agency moving forwards – do they seem like the types of people you will get along with, do they seem organised, effective and full of good ideas. And most importantly, as a start-up, will they guide you and help you ensure that your time is spent developing, leading and growing the business?

If you are looking to appoint a branding agency for your financial business, please get in touch with me, Louise Stevens at or call me on 0203 735 5534.