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How to find a branding expert you can trust

One question I get a lot when I’m meeting with potential clients is “Do you have any experience in [fill in client’s very specific niche]?”

And I don’t blame them.

Investing in your brand is not a small decision and it’s important to find the right partner. It makes perfect sense to look for someone who has experience working with businesses in your field. But, when it comes to branding, not all experience is created equal.

The truth is that niche experience doesn’t really matter. In fact, I often advise people against searching for a designer who focuses on one specific niche like "wedding photographers" or "handmade soap". A better framing for those niches that would have me lowering my red flags a bit would be "wedding industry professionals" and "cosmetic and personal care products"

When you select a brand designer with a tight focus on working with only one certain type of business—say, wedding photographers—you’re actually selecting someone with limited design experience.

The chances of you getting a cookie cutter solution are far greater. When a designer works in only one specific niche, it’s easy for them to fall into a routine. They’re constantly working in the same style with the same challenges and picking up a collection of tricks that “work every time.”

What does this mean for you? Well, you may walk away with a brand that looks exactly like everyone else’s and has very little creative thinking behind it.

Instead, look for someone with a strong grasp on the core principles of branding and design and a bent towards strategic thinking. When a designer understands the foundations of branding and design they can apply those principles to any business. In fact, if they’re unfamiliar with your specific niche, it can actually be viewed as a strength because it's far more likely they’ll bring a fresh perspective to your project and give you a really creative, unique result.

Here at Happyland Creative™ we've worked with a wide variety of business types—everything from service providers like photographers and copywriters, to podcasts, bakeries, skincare businesses, medical spas, and even a solar energy company. Am I an expert in solar energy? That's a HARD NO. But I have a decade and a half of design experience and know how to create a brand.

Now, I would say we have a niche here at Happyland Creative™. In fact, I'd say we have a couple. First and foremost we thrive when it comes to working with small businesses. We love working directly with the business owner. We've learned that communication gets muddied when we work with a middle man. And if you'd like to whittle that niche down even further, we specialize in product based business. We know and understand service providers and love to work with them as well, but our souls light up about physical products and cute packaging and increasing conversion rates.

It’s your job to be an expert in your business. It’s your designer's job to be an expert in branding and design. But how can you ensure your designer knows their stuff?

A couple of good questions to ask a designer when you meet with them are:

  • Can you tell me a bit about your career background and experience?
  • Can you share a bit about your strategic process?

Asking these questions will help paint a picture for you of their grasp on design. Once you have your answers, it's a matter of trusting your gut and choosing the person you feel will be the best fit based on personality, experience, and design style.

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About the Author

Brittany Wong

Brittany Wong is the Founder and Creative Director of Happyland Creative®, a design studio helping small business owners make more money with their branding.