I love our industry and I think we have some amazing agencies that are committed to transforming their client’s brands and making a real positive impact on their businesses. It has therefore always seemed strange that we don’t practise what we preach and apply all the great thinking we do for our clients, on our own agency brands.
With tens of thousands of agencies in the UK alone, we are all more than aware of the competitiveness of our industry. And therefore the requirement to differentiate yourself is vital to your success.
But to get ahead, we need to start taking a dose of our own medicine. Why tell your clients one thing and then do another? Why don’t we put more time and effort into making our agency brands great? Of course the work you create plays a huge role in shaping your identity but we would all be out of jobs pretty quickly if we told our clients that if their products are good enough, they will sell themselves.
Agencies need to start taking a look closer to home and develop their own brand if they want to stand out from the crowd and attract the right clients and talent. This starts with answering a simple but very complex question; why does your agency exist?
If you can’t answer this or articulate your answer in a short pithy sentence, then you have a branding problem. You may struggle to do so because your agency was set up many moons ago, with a real purpose, but is unrecognisable from the one you see today. It might be that your brand does stand for something but you’re having problems articulating it, or there could be an internal comms challenge to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn page. With no clear brand vision or a leader to guide it, then surely you can’t really be getting ahead of the competition.
When it come to the reasons brands appoint agencies, I think we need to take a leaf out of Simon Sinek’s book, “people don’t care about what you do, they care about why you do it”. But time and time again, we see agencies try to differentiate themselves with words like digital, integrated, insight obsessed, analytical, full service, award winning; the list goes on. How many times have we seen these words used to market an agency? I think if we tried a bit harder and took a sip of our own medicine, we could market ourselves a little better than that. What’s the phrase? Storytelling.
It’s time agencies realised that they are brands too and they need to act like one, starting by remembering why they exist in the first place.