Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about branding, growing your business through brand strategy, brand identity, branded websites, experiences and content? We can help. Check out these frequently asked questions to get answers.

General

Getting Started

Find out what it’s like to work with a brand agency and what you can expect. These questions can help acquaint you with Hardy and the kind of work we do.

What's it like to work with Hardy?

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Hardy is a process-oriented company. We follow a scaffolding system for just about every service we provide. Meaning, we have a series of defined steps that we incrementally work through to achieve desired results. Clients approve milestones before we move onto the next steps.

You’re involved with our team and our processes, transparently and collaboratively, throughout. This way, you’re a part of defining what we are doing throughout the entire process. If you have worked with other agencies, it is likely you will find our processes to be more defined, collaborative and hands-on. We also put an emphasis on proactive communications so you know up-front who your main point of contact will be, the project timeline and the major milestones associated with keeping the project moving forward.

From a strategic level, our focus is on doing what’s best you and your brand to help you succeed. We do this by working with our clients to build powerful brands. During the process, we teach you what branding is and what you can do to build and manage your business’s reputation long-term through branding.

What industries do you work with?

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We have had the opportunity to work with a huge range of businesses. But, we see that companies with a high amount of customer interactions and touchpoints have the best opportunities to see a stronger return from investing in branding.

What is your service area?

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Hardy is based in Bozeman, Montana, but we work with businesses throughout the country. Through online tools, we successfully collaborate with clients from coast to coast and everywhere in between, no matter where they are located.

How is a branding firm different than a marketing agency? How is Hardy different than a marketing agency?

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Marketing agencies plan and manage marketing campaigns. Marketing campaigns typically include advertising geared towards catching the attention of that company’s customers.

As a branding agency, the work we do provides direction for everything a company does. Branding sets guidelines for how a business makes decisions, how it trains its staff and how it interacts with its customers. Our focus, prior to developing concepts for effective marketing campaigns, is on developing a plan to improve your reputation and create long-term, real value for your customers. Once we know the plan, we can execute your brand through marketing and advertising methods.

Branding

What it’s all about

Learn how branding can give your business a guidebook and the communication tools it needs to reach your desired goals.

What exactly is branding?

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Branding is the act of working to improve your reputation. Your brand is how people perceive you. Branding is proactive reputation management. It is planning and strategizing for who your business or organization is and where it wants to go. It impacts business growth decisions, such as whether or not to add a new product or service, as well as how your staff behaves and treats your customers.

While many people think of a logo as a brand, a logo is part of your brand identity. Branding is the foundation of a business or organization. It sets the tone and positions the brand within the market. This helps to identify a company and distinguish it from other products and services.

What is brand strategy?

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Brand strategy combines the things you do, why you do them, why they matter to you, who you do them for and why it matters to them to give you a path forward. It is your company’s approach to doing business and how that makes you different from your competitors. The purpose of brand strategy is to define all of this so your organization has focus. It is your guiding tool to measure all of your future actions against.

How much does branding cost? How much time and money should I invest in this?

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There isn’t a formula, but here are a few things to consider:
1. Lifetime Customer Value: For your organization to grow, do you need to retain customers?
2. Referrals: Is word of mouth a primary driver for new customers?
3. Perception: Do your customers make their purchase decisions based on what they think of you?
4. Trust: Is it important that your customers trust you to provide what they’re looking for?

If the answer is yes to any of these, then put some resources into this. If most of these relate to the success or failure of your business, then invest a significant amount of time and money into this.
Tip: If you are comfortable, your investment it is not significant.

Why is branding important for a business?

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Ask yourself, would it benefit your business to have a better reputation or for your customers to have a consistent experience with your company? People don’t trust advertising; people trust people. So instead of focusing on communicating your benefit (advertising), focus on improving how your customers thinks about you (branding).

Branding is important for a business because it provides the business with a roadmap to help it make decisions, strategically position itself within the market and help differentiate it from its competitors. Branding provides consistency and helps businesses improve their customers’ experiences. This gives businesses the advantage of having customers that feel positive enough to promote the company to their own network of people.

What, within my organization or business, does my brand apply to?

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EVERYTHING. You need to be thinking of all decisions in terms of whether or not they align with your brand’s position, its values and its identity. Brand defines how a business behaves and what it looks like. By using your brand as your guide to decision making, you’ll know whether or not your actions will help or hurt your brand’s reputation.

Websites

A valuable brand touchpoint

A website is often a potential customer’s first introduction to your business. Branded websites communicate your brand’s values and pair with user experience needs to serve as an extension of your brand.

Should a branding agency design my website?

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Yes! The core of a website’s content is brand messaging (communicating your brand’s values) paired with user experience needs (what your customer expects from your website). A brand agency has the closest connection to your values and understands what your customers need to be satisfied. They did the work to help you discover your brand’s essence and who it best serves. Because of this deep understanding, a brand agency will be able to make strategic decisions about how to best bring your business to life online in a way that properly represents you and supports your customer’s needs.

What's the advantage of having a branding agency design my website?

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We are brand specialists and your website is a huge part of your brand’s identity. It is also likely to be the first introduction a potential customer has with your services or products. If you already have a brand, are refining one or are starting new, your website is where you have the opportunity to convey that brand. It’s an opportunity to show your customers how you do business, what makes you different and, above all, a place for your customers to be delighted with their initial experience with you.

Going through a branding process will identify how to do those things. And, if you’ve worked with us to develop your brand, we know it better than anyone else. Your brand strategy informs everything we do–from your user’s experience expectations and functionality of your website, to the fonts, words, colors, images and content organization. Websites informed through the lens of brand strategy improve the reputation of that business.

Why is it important to have an on-brand website?

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Your website is the primary online presence that represents your brand ecosystem. For example, if a large part of your ecosystem feels like being on farmland and another part feels like being in the mountains, your customer will feel confused. Thus, causing them to lose trust in who you say you are and what you say you do. The key to branding is to take every opportunity you can to build trust. This requires a website that consistently represents your business’s offerings, its values and its personality through words, imagery, fonts and colors in a way that accurately shows your customers who you are. Developing an on-brand website also helps you create and maintain the reputation you want your business to have.

Pro Tip: The Logo Test. If you remove your logo from your website, would others be able to tell that it is your brand’s website? If not, it is not on-brand. For more info, check out this blog.

What makes a branded website good?

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From a brand perspective, the most important thing is that it feels like your brand and that it communicates your brand’s value. The part that makes it good or bad is your branding. The rest of what makes a good or bad website is more on the web design and development side. Is the site easy to use and easy to find? Does it do what you expect? Does it help you do what you need to do? Does it load quickly and is it secure? All of these things effect your brand reputation making them important.

Will I need to have a logo designed for my website?

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Yes, you should have a logo on your website, but you don’t need to design a new logo for a new website. If you have an existing logo you should be able to use it. The caveat is whether or not your logo is good. Ask yourself these questions to determine whether or not it is good. Does it represent your company appropriately? Does it feel outdated? Do the fonts, colors, photography and words align with the vibe of your company?

If you answered “no” to any of these, it’s likely time for a new logo. If you don’t have a logo, be sure to keep these same questions in mind and have it designed before you start designing a website so the visuals of your site match your logo. For more on what makes a logo good, check out this blog.

Marketing & Advertising

Promote your brand

Just like in branding, we begin by diagnosing the challenges and pinpointing the opportunities before providing marketing and advertising solutions. Each plan we create is rooted in strategy to intentionally work towards your company’s goals.

What is marketing strategy?

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Marketing strategy, at its simplest form, is a plan for promoting your business. There are few key components it should include:

1. Three to four marketing goals.

2. A list of the most likely ways to get in front of your audience based on where they are and what they’re paying attention to.

3. A plan for measuring your marketing to make sure your efforts are helping you reach your goals.

4. The dollar amount you can allocate to your marketing. This should include any out-of-pocket costs such as paid media fees, printing fees and creative services. If you’re hiring other people to design ads or promotional materials, include those costs in your budget.

What does market research include?

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Market research can include a number of items, but ultimately it comes down to your goals for the research and how you’re hoping the research will inform your future marketing efforts and decision making. Market research examples include qualitative interviews, quantitative surveys, competition analysis, market positioning maps, behaviors and interests by geographic regions, customer identification/personas, in-store or in-person user testing, and website user experience heat mapping to name a few. Clearly identify what you want to get out of the research to help you choose the method(s) that will help you reach your goals.

What does Hardy market research include?

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At Hardy our market research includes online competitive audits, market position mapping, customer identification through persona building, customer/employees surveys, in-store/in-person user testing and anything else we can do to validate our next steps so that we can more confidently predict the success of marketing initiatives.

What media channels do you address through your marketing plans?

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We are media agnostic. We put your brand’s message wherever your customers are and for the lowest cost and deepest impact. Digital, traditional, social, video…if it makes the short list based on the media your audience is paying attention to and it’s a good channel to share your brand’s message, we’ll provide the recommended marketing spend and we’re happy to develop the advertising assets needed. Of course, we will discuss the costs to create those ads prior to working on anything.

What does Hardy cover in their marketing services?

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Determining goals and measurable objectives for your marketing efforts.
Media Strategy (research and planning)
Media Execution (price negotiations and buying)
Creative Strategy (concept and messaging)
Creative Execution (development of all advertising assets needed)
Cross-channel Analytics and Reporting
Project Management
Consulting
Reporting

Creative Services

Connect with your audience

We work with you to find creative, on-brand solutions to reach your business goals. While we specialize in graphic design, copywriting, illustration and photography, we don’t limit ourselves. If you can think of it, we can develop it.

How do your creative services help me expand my brand's reach?

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We focus on the core elements of your brand and your goals and consider what will connect with your audience when we develop creative assets. We are calculated in the decisions we make so that your brand is represented accurately and consistently.

Everything we do is strategic. It’s never about shooting from the hip and hoping it sticks. Because of this, your reach naturally expands as your audience begins to become familiar with you and connects to your brand. You’ll see an increase in engagement, an increase in word-of-mouth referrals and, ultimately, an increase in long-term loyalty and trust.

If you’re looking for new ways to reach people, we also offer marketing strategy and execution.

What creative services are involved in marketing?

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There are limitless creative services at a marketer’s disposal. The goal of marketing is to sell more and continue to do it better. You should never let your concepts for how to do that be limited by the medium. Creative services, at its core, is the result of combining writing with visual art/design.

The range is huge: videography, photography, illustration, script writing, guidelines to follow for sales calls, press releases, graphic design, experience design, web design, print collateral design, branded videos and more. The creative services needed to market a business varies by business based on the types of media their customers respond to best and the marketing message the business is hoping to share.

For example, if a local furniture store is having a store-wide sale, a simple attention-getting ad on social media or in the local newspaper would require graphic design and copywriting creative services. If a company is launching a new and somewhat complicated product, they may want to create a video to showcase the value the product offers and how to use it. This would, at a minimum, require a videographer and a script writer. It may also involve actors, set design, music and a creative director, which also fall under creative services.

What creative services do you offer?

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We don’t have a limit on what we create. If you can think of it, we can develop it. But, we don’t often take on projects without doing brand strategy and brand identity work first. We specialize in brand strategy, brand identity design, and brand execution. Our approach is strategic and intentional. This is what makes us more versatile compared to most other creative teams.

Are creative services and graphic design services the same?

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No. “Creative services” is the overarching term for all types of creative work (copywriting, graphic design, photography, illustration, videography, script writing, etc.). You could think of it as communication services–anything that transfers or contains information, including sound, smell, taste and visual communication. Graphic design is only the design of visual communications component where graphics, words and/or images are paired together to share information. A few common examples of graphic design are posters, print ads and business cards.

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