Branding Is For Brands

There’s a certain abandon to Steffan Postaer’s writing. I like that, especially since it’s coming from deep inside the machine.
Today, the creative leader of Euro RSCG/Chicago, takes on agency mission statements and self-promo exercises. Thankfully, he does so with abandon.

Are we about ideas, client service, publicity or all of the above? In every creds piece (including ours), is some permutation of “building brands over time while selling product right away.”
Blah, blah, blah.
I need to call bullshit. With the possible exception of Crispin Porter & Bogusky, there are no agency brands. Not really. The venerable Carl Ally once said, “Clients make great agencies, not vice-versa.” More than a treatise about greatness, his statement suggests that an advertising agency is defined by its brands. For example Wieden & Kennedy is Nike. Its greatness is their greatness.

In other words, agencies needn’t bother with their own brand. Rather they need to obsess about their clients’ brands. Because agencies are their clients’ brands, for better or worse. Really makes you want to pick your clients carefully, does it not?

About David Burn

Fired up to write it down. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Chief storyteller at Bonehook, a guide service and bait shop for brands.

  • http://www.downtownpartnerschicago.com mal evans

    are you kidding me? wieden isn’t an agency brand? or goodby? Or chiat, or bbdo? euro certainly isn’t. or y&r. or grey. or mccann. but there are smart agency brands out there. and they’re doing quite well.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    This is wholly semantic, but there is a difference in meaning between the words “brand” and “company.” We’ve gone overboard with brand brand brand, when in fact what we’re describing is a company.

  • http://godsofadvertising.wordpress.com Steffan Postaer

    Not so fast, Mal.
    Think about it… Are Goodby, Wieden and Chiat really brands beyond the work they’ve done? I don’t think so. If you do, define it for me. You’ll find yourself groping for platitudes like, “The agency that does good work.” You are what you eat.
    -Steffan

  • wade

    While I’m sure Mr. Ally was indeed grateful for the clients that made his agency a success, I’m afraid too many just use his quote as justification for being the bland, faceless institutions they are. “See? It’s not our fault we’re boring and lifeless. It’s our clients’.” To quote the old song from the old movie, “It’s what you do with what you got.” Compare Goodby’s work for any new “bad” client to that of the client’s previous agency to see this in action time and time again. Call it a company, call it a brand or just call it substance, but I think it’s a bit more common than SP admits. Maybe not in the Global Agency Network world, but then, was it ever really part of that world to begin with?

  • http://www.downtownpartnerschicago.com mal evans

    wieden is the agency that hates advertising. goodby is the agency that believes advertising can be art. chiat are the pirates, not the navy. steffan needs to get out of the big, bland agency world–one where they sell such hogwash as creative business ideas–and see what it’s like to work at an agency with a strong point of view.