The typical branding agency from the past (or at least a more professional branding agency) have focused on the standard mission, vision and values approach. And yes, this works well as it understands what a company stands for and aligns the brand around this. However in practice over the years, I have noticed a few things that happen, firstly, the client starts to feel engaged in the process, they get excited and start to get more involved (all good), however, in some cases I see that as they start to get to understand our processes and get more involved, they stop focusing on the end result and start to refer back to the work, aligning to what are they are today, or what they want to achieve, and the client gets more and more drawn into the process. And while it is good to get the clients attention and involvement in the branding process, it isn’t so good for the branding to loose grip of the end result.
It’s interesting when I look more holistically at the results of the bigger and more established agency – I won’t mention names, you start to see that once they become well known for what they do, they start to be trusted by companies and brand managers, who acknowledge that they don’t actually need to sculpt the end result for themselves, they trust the branding agency to make recommendations, and then from here reap the rewards of this. The result from these branding companies is more arresting, vibrant and produces braver brands, and once these brands are out there in the world, they start to grow and form new brand leaders, brands that others can only hope to follow.
So, to be a really great branding agency, the answer is in the branding process, making sure that you educate the client in how brands work, how his brand works and how his demographic will be inspired by a new brand. The branding agencies have been educating companies in this way for many years now, it’s in recent years that clients have seen these branding companies as a more conceptual branding agency, with strong strategic anchors. In fact one of my brand strategists often refers to us as being creatively driven and strategically anchored, and I like this description as it is accurate and what I would suggest other agencies should aim for, after all, you should never be different for the sake of being different, or so strategically aligned and ‘safe’ that you loose any brand personality.