What Is A Brand Consultant? (Become A Top Branding Expert)

Building a brand is no cake walk.

There are many factors of influence and considerations to understand the market landscape and devise a plan of attack.

You might have a great product or service, but so what.

So do most competitors in the market.

Communicating the unique value of your product or service to the market in a way that differentiates you from the rest requires a specialist set of skills that can be found in a brand consultant. 

While many entrepreneurs associate the term â€śbranding specialist” to the likes of designers and copywriters, brand consultants sit above these tactical roles to provide strategic guidance.

In this article, you’ll discover what a brand consultant is, what they do, how they charge, and how you can become one or leverage one.

What Is Brand Consulting?

In short, brand consulting is about providing expert strategic guidance to businesses to help with their branding and marketing efforts, to enhance the image of a business in the market, ultimately influencing consumers to choose it over its competitors.

Having a great product or service is only half the battle.

When it’s time to devise a plan to build a brand around the business and communicate that brand and it’s offering to the market, business owners need to ask and answer the right questions.

You can’t see the label from inside the jar and using brand consultancy services, is a great way to engage expertise to look at the challenge from different perspectives.

What Is A Brand Consultant?

Manager adviser consulting client discussing

A brand consultant is a specialist in building a strategic brand around a business to offer clarity both internally and externally. 

Branding is not about logos, font and color palettes.

It’s about providing meaning to the business about what it stands for, who it’s for how it’s different and the unique value of that differnce. 

Knowing the questions to ask and how to evoke the right answers to the questions in order to devise a plan of attack is the core specialty of a brand consultant. 


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What’s The Difference Between A Brand Consultant And A Brand Strategist?

businessmen discussing together in meeting room

Often, the terms â€śbrand strategist” and â€śbrand consultant” are used interchangeably. That’s not surprising, given that the two roles have a lot in common. 

However, brand consultants tend to work with established companies.

Both job roles involve:

Audience research

Competitive analysis

Positioning

Key messaging

Brand storytelling

Marketing strategy

The major difference between the two is that brand strategists work more frequently with young companies and start-ups to help them formulate a new brand. 

Consultants, meanwhile, work almost exclusively with existing businesses to help them define and improve their brand strategy.

Clearly, this is not a huge difference. Sometimes, brand strategists work with established businesses, and consultants work with start-ups. 

They are not mutually exclusive, which is why you’ll often see a lot of crossovers.

Key Skills Of A Brand Consultant

Corporate Meeting Concept.

If you work in the filed of branding and you’re looking to elevate your skills to become a brand consultant and offer consultancy services, there are a few key skill sets you’ll need.

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Strategic Thinking

Thinking of solution on board

Brand consultants must be able to think strategically to devise plans for their clients, to see the big picture to identify long-term goals, and figure out how to get there. 

A lot of work goes into strategic thinking, and you’ll need some secondary skills to accompany this, such as organizational abilities, market research, and a talent for identifying opportunities and challenges. 

Similarly, you need confident and effective decision-making capabilities.

Companies will rely on you to take decisive action, so you need to be confident in your analytical skills.

Creativity

Young businessman standing in front of glass wall thinking and planning

Any successful brand builder needs a certain degree of creativity. 

Consultants are problem solvers who identify challenges, look for gaps and opportunities and uncover creative strategies to take advantage. 

These creative skills are paramount to devising unique solutions and differentiation strategies and the most obvious answers are rarely unique enough to make a splash.

Pitching and positioning solutions to business leaders is also a creative sales process to get the leadership team over the line.

Copywriting

Writing plan with the data given

Not every brand consultant is an effective copywriter but it’s a hugely valuable skill to have in order to communicate your ideas.

Of course, professional copywriters, whether in-house or external will likely come into the fold when it comes time to craft final client-facing messages, but a foundational starting point is key to communicating ideas, positions and key messages.

If your copywriting skills are average at best, it’s an area you’ll want to invest in.

Marketing

Coworkers photo in modern office.Project manager team work new idea.

Brand consultants require a solid understanding of marketing principles and the ability to apply them to each brand’s unique needs.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that a brand consultant needs the skills of a designer, a media buyer, or SEO.

But having a solid understanding of the role of each discipline and how it can contribute to achieving certain branding and marketing goals is critical. 

Marketing is constantly changing, so you need to make sure you stay ahead of the curve. 

Someone with a keen interest in the latest trends is often a good fit for brand consultancy, so if you have your finger on the pulse for what’s hot and what’s not and you analyse the marketing efforts of other brands, then brand consulting could be good for you. 

Research

Concept of digital diagram,graph interfaces,virtual screen,connections icon.

Strong research skills are also ideal for brand consultants as this task is without doubt one of the most important aspects of the role.

The ability to research businesses, markets, segments, audiences and competitors, provides a brand consultant with the key ingredients to understand the landscape and uncover opportunities in the market.

Of course, brand consultants can engage market research firms or experts to help with the heavy lifting, but knowing where to allocate resources is key.

Interpersonal Skills

Smiling diverse colleagues gather in boardroom brainstorm

Brand consultants and consultants in general require a high level of communication and interpersonal skills.

A large part of the role is earning trust and building relationships clients to br able to bring leadership teams into alignment.

For this, you need great interpersonal skills, including effective and active listening and an ability to understand what the client is asking for.

Confident presentation and facilitation skills are also a valuable commodity for consultant.   

Key Roles Of A Brand Consultant

Leader pointing to plan to teammate

A brand consultant has many roles. The day-to-day routine can vary quite a bit depending on how many companies you work with and what stage you are at with them in the brand-building process.

Some of the key roles you’ll be engaged in include auditing, researching, ideation and positioning as well as reputation management to maintain the brand image.

Auditing

Checking sheet in monitor

When you take on a new client, you’ll need to produce a brand audit that takes stock of the existing brand. 

This also means gaining insights into the industry, target audience, and company goals. you’ll need to check out if the brand voice is consistent across all channels, as well as analyze what channels the business is using and decide whether they are effective.

Auditing doesn’t just take place at the start, though. Consultants also perform regular audits to see if the strategy is working.

Research

Regular research is also necessary.

This means general marketing research to stay at the forefront of trends and view forecasts for the industry. 

It also means researching the target audience to understand who they are and what they want, performing market research to assess competitors, and analyzing the data to see what’s working.

Brand Building

checking data from document and device

Brand building is one of the key roles of a consultant. This involves:

Creating brand guidelines that include standards and best practices for staff

Providing brand training for employees to communicate the business’s messages effectively

Developing a framework that defines how the brand is structured

Sometimes, it might also involve devising re-branding strategies, including coming up with new names, logos, and other fundamentals.

Marketing Strategy

Business People Meeting Conference Discussion Working Concept

One of the key roles of a consultant is to create a brand strategy that helps a business meet its goals. 

This includes planning brand positioning in the market, boosting awareness of the brand’s products and services, and marketing using effective techniques that reach the target audience.

In this role, you may need to collaborate with internal brand managers and external ad agencies to make the vision come to life.

Analysis And Evaluation

Data and key performance indicators for business intelligence analytics

No marketing strategy is complete without regular evaluation. Brand consultants need to know how to track data and interpret it to see if the strategies are working.

If they aren’t, it’s time to bring the creativity and strategic thinking back in to coordinate a new plan.

Example Of A Brand Consulting Project

Confident young man in shirt and tie holding some document and pointing it

There are plenty of roles that a brand consultant undertakes. However, it can be challenging to understand all of them without some concrete examples.

Here is an overview of a complete brand consulting project.

#1. Meet With The Client And Perform An Audit

Mentor helping client

The first step is to have an in-depth meeting with the client to find out what the business is, what industry they work in, and their goals.

Following on from the meeting, it’s the consultant’s job to do some research and analysis.

Take a deep dive into the brand to see what marketing techniques are already being used, what channels the company uses to communicate with its audience, and how successful the branding is already.

You can also analyze brand perception at this stage.

Many companies don’t know how their brand is perceived, so you might need to try to find some customer feedback

Armed with these insights, you can find areas for improvement.

#2. Assess the Competition

man in wearing glasses using laptop in office

Next, you need to analyze the competition and see what competitor brands are doing right – or wrong. 

Brand consultants often have access to tools that businesses don’t, such as competitive intelligence programs to help check on the competition.

These specialized services are what clients pay for because it gives them an edge.

#3. Develop Strategies

Start up partners are working in casual clothes, discussing the ideas for new strategy of development.

Consultants are also hired to help businesses stand out in their industries.

You need to develop differentiation strategies that give the business a strong voice and help it to stand out.

Brand consultants can help businesses to develop a unique voice and tell a story, then devise the strategy to market this story. This is a key part of brand development.

It’s then time to enact this strategy by producing copy that fits the brand voice and follows the strategic plan.

Everything you produce should work toward the company’s goal and contribute to the branding strategy.

#4. Build Brand Loyalty

Glad to work with you!

Your job as a consultant is not just to create a brand but also to sell that brand to an audience.

You need to work to build brand loyalty as well as awareness, bringing on board customers that will return to the business time and time again.

Brand consultants typically create customer loyalty programs that provide value to the target audience, encouraging them to stick around. 

Part of this is acting on feedback received from customers, including through surveys, social media comments, and other channels.

Interpersonal skills are vital here because you need to understand what customers want and how to enact it.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Brand Consultant?

A group of young business people with laptop sitting in an office, talking.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to brand consulting, and many consultants come from different educational backgrounds.

Brand consultants may have a bachelor’s degree or similar certifications in marketing, media, or business. 

When looking for consulting roles, many agencies favor experience in the field. This usually means a background in communications, business, or marketing. 

You might also have experience with leading client meetings, pitching project ideas, and project management.

In the modern age, employers also like to see examples of personal branding. Consider your online presence and your socials. Posting on LinkedIn and building your own brand is a great way to showcase your skills.

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Benefits Of Being A Brand Consultant

man shaking hands with financial advisor at home.

Brand consultants enjoy plenty of perks of the job. One thing many consultants enjoy is getting to see their projects come to life.

Your work has tangible progress.

When you see all the analytics–like organic traffic, click-through rate, sales, and subscribers–increasing, not to mention, market share, revenue and profit, it’s very rewarding to see your impact. 

Creativity is another perk. If you enjoy being creative, then being a brand consultant gives you the freedom to experiment and let your creativity flow.

In terms of the job role, consultants get a lot of flexibility, especially those who offer freelance consulting services. You can work with brands from around the globe in different industries, gaining insights into a wide range of topics.

Freelance brand consultants can also travel and choose their own hours, which is a huge plus for many brand builders.

Challenges Of Being A Brand Consultant

Consultation of two professional office workers

No job is without its challenges, and that includes brand consulting. 

One of the key challenges is the diverse skill set. Being a brand consultant can often feel like you’re juggling a lot of plates, so it’s a demanding role…

The first hurdle you often have to overcome is the client.

The importance of branding and the role of the brand consultant is often overlooked.

As a result, you may need to educate potential clients on your job and the benefits you can bring.

Client expectations can get in the way further down the line. Building a brand takes time, and it can take years to see tangible  results. 

Brand consultants, therefore, need to develop the skill of managing expectations and goals.

Finally, you can expect plenty of rejection. Many potential clients you approach in the early days will turn you down – that’s part of the process.

Even when you have a healthy roster of clients to work with, there will be times when the business is not happy with the work you produce.

Negative feedback is part and parcel of the job, so you need to be able to deal with constructive criticism.

Average Brand Consultant Salary

businessman hand wallet with money

Brand consulting salaries can vary widely depending on the location and the individual’s experience, as well as employer size.

On average, brand consultants in the US make around $41 per hour or $85,441 per year. Those who work for large agencies can earn up to $100,000 per year. According to Zippia, the bottom 10% makes $43,000.

However, as a freelancer, the potential to earn is limitless. Some of the top consultants charge $400 per hour to conglomerates for their services.

The demand for marketing managers and brand consultants is growing, so the future outlook for this job is very positive. 

Freelance Brand Consulting vs. Working For An Agency

Brand consultants have the option to work with an agency or freelance. Both options have pros and cons, and it all comes down to what suits you best.

Freelancers have more freedom to choose their own hours, charge their own rates, and choose the clients they work with.

Meanwhile, working for an agency provides better job security and education if you’re just starting out.

In some instances, there may also be higher earning potential if you don’t yet have the experience.

There is no right or wrong answer, and there is usually an opportunity to change your decision later down the line.

Over To You

Now you know what a brand consultant is, but how do you become one?

First, you need the education. Take a course (preferably a bachelor’s degree) in a related field, such as marketing or communications. 

Next, gain experience in branding and marketing. Plenty of brand consultants start out as marketing coordinators or junior brand managers. All of it works to build up your resume with skills like copywriting, art direction, and more.

You don’t need years and years of experience to get started, but the more background you have, the better.

When you get started as a consultant, keep a track of your work to build up a portfolio. The more experience you have, the better you’ll get, and the more you can sell your services to bigger and better clients.

Brand consultants are in high demand, so if you match these skills and have a keen interest in brand building, consulting could be for you.

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