Real branding (let me repeat – Real Branding) may be a partial answer to what ails some agencies. Specifically, the downfall and demise of agencies like D’Arcy, Bates, Earle Palmer Brown, Hample/Stefanides, HDC, BaylessCronin and some other twenty-two more U.S. ad agencies begs the question – how can agencies with great client rosters simply slip away, or be disassembled and distributed as piece-parts? How can their peers or an admiring public let that happen?
But what even suggests that peers or the public have any idea who does what and when? If the public did know, might it be less likely that a great Brand (agency) could simply be put to rest without cries of complaint and alarm? We kicked this topic around before -based on feedback since, we’ve had conversations with agencies AND clients – to ask what might happen if agencies really did brand themselves.
Imagine if your agency were to “sign & brand” every ad you produced. Translated – a small but visible agency mark, logo and credit line (or voiceover), similar to a photographer’s or illustrator’s credit line that states “Proudly produced by X Agency, Chicago, IL”. As best we’ve come to know, it’s not being done by anyone.
Agencies generally remark – “clients wouldn’t allow it”, or “clients wouldn’t pick up the tab”. Yet photographers and illustrators have been doing it for years, and not because they work without payment. Publishers pay and allow it; why can’t clients? Is it just a question of asking permission? On the pay-for-it issue, if there’s value, an agency should be happy to pay for their pro-rata portion, or reduce production costs accordingly. After all, that’s positive exposure and an investment in new business development.
When we discussed this with clients, they weren’t put off as agencies thought they might be. Some were quick to see the merits. This could be a quid-pro-quo thing. Many consumers (and industry peers) are passionate about who does what work (for example, stay behind in the theatre to witness those who remain to study credits).
Consider an extreme analogy – imagine if an agency of some renown (a you-know-who) that wouldn’t normally, did work for a regional men’s fashion chain and marked or branded that work. What might “those in the know” think about the connection or the implied endorsement? If the consumer didn’t recognize the agency brand (regardless of size), a quick Internet search would be educational. And that grand agency brand might have complimented the client. Likewise, a great client brand could compliment an agency.
When chatting this around, the topic of copyright also comes up. But we’ve touched on enough for now – it’s time to move on. However, your thoughts are welcome, AND, if you already do this, are you willing to tell us (and others) about it?
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