In one phrase, most agencies don’t even understand what branding is, truly. The term “branding” has become so generic that most immediately think it is the design of a logo. As if a logo redesign is going single-handedly increase revenue and solve every problem in a company.
Most traditional ad agencies see what they consider a poor design then convince a client that redesigning the identity is what will help the client the most. Anyone in business knows this is not the case. Problems don’t revolve solely around the way the company looks to the rest of the world. Problems exist in R&D, management, human resources, customer service and so on.
These problems must be identified before a brand identity can be designed. Branding is a top-down, inside-out methodology. Jumping to the identity skips any ability to identify real problems and therefore develop real solutions.
When you are engaged with an agency ask a couple questions to see where they stand on key issues regarding business.
1. What type of intelligence and research do you plan on conducting?
Researching markets, surveying employees and clients, as well as other intelligence gathering is an essential part of branding. Without knowing what is happening in a company, no branding tasks should be engaged. The risk is too big.
2. How do you leverage gathered information to formulate a strategy?
The answer to this question should be, “We compile it into an intelligence document, distill the information, and produce a strategy based on the true essence of the brand.” If you can any other rendition, or even better, blank stares, move along. Wrong agency.
3. Will search marketing, social media and other online media be considered in a strategy?
If the answer is “no” then move along. This agency is compeltely out of touch and will be a waste of money and time. The online realm of media is extremely effective and, best of all, completely measureable. Measurement usually scares traditional agencies because it sheds light on failures.
We’re not trying to take a jab at traditional ad agencies, we’re simply calling out the ones that operate without a real value add. These types of agencies have devalued the industry severely because of their high prices and low returns on investment.
Stay tuned for more agency myths…