and so it begins...

What really defines a great agency?  We preach the importance of positioning to our clients and the integrating the brand throughout their marketing plan.  However, often we show up like the barber’s kid who goes without a decent haircut.  We have been so busy helping our clients become brand smart, that we haven’t been looking very brand smart ourselves.  We can’t be all things to all people.  You just can’t please all of the clients in all of their categories all of the time. 

It’s just like the client who wants everything in his ad to be of equal size – the photo, the headline, the copy, the logo.  Wise agencies remind their clients that all emphasis is no emphasis.  The same is true for the way agencies position themselves. It is good and noble to want to produce superior results for theclient and that should be the purpose of every agency. 

There’s nothing differentiating about the notion of producing favorable results. 

There’s also nothing differentiating about being either “full-service,” or “diversified,” or “integrated,” or “comprehensive.” However, when the value proposition is not properly defined, identities become more muddled, less distinguished, and unfortunately, more like acommodity than a brand.Client’s become confused about who, what, and why we are valuable to theirbusiness. They can't figure out what unique characteristic is done exceptionally well and what is represented overall. 

A strong agency brand is a brand with substance, style, singularity and clear definition. The substance part is unequivocally first and foremost.  I’ve walked into what looks like a very impressive agency, that is described trendy, only to find that behind the marble reception desk was a stylish individual and an agency that’s no better than any other, ie. has very little substance.  A fashionable look is not a brand.  A cool business card is not a brand.  An Armani suit is not a brand. A staff that dresses entirely in black is not a brand. These could all be elements of what the agency wants to reflect, but not its essence. They don’t just talk about producing quality work – they actually do it. They walk the talk and are respected for it. That is how they got their name.

The essence of positioning is sacrifice. That’s why defining a brand is so difficult for agencies. It involves sacrifice. It means giving something up. It means not only deciding what we are, but what we are not and who we are and who we are not. It’s not just a matter of producing a new business card, and revising a website.  Branding starts from the inside out. Defining what makes an organization different and recognizing THAT as the greatest strength and capitalizing on it as a magnet - now THAT is a unique profile.

We do a great job of helping our clients achieve distinction in the marketplace, so there's no reason why we can't do the same - with a distinctive philosophy, distinctive capabilities, a distinctive identity, and a distinctive way of doing business. To define and then implement brand alignment, beginning internally to get the team aligned with company’s goals and objectives, and then delivering on the brand’s promise and what the client expects. 

A company's uniqueness compared to its competitors is what will ensure success. This is what sets it apart. It is selling the proposal through high level thinking strategy, and then tactical implementation. 

Playing it safe is the riskiest thing you can do. 

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
~ Cecil Beaton



Alison HornerComment