You, Your Agency, And Your Brand Are Not Special

When you’re a creative in adveritising, you clearly have to believe that you alone have something unique to offer an agency or a client. We’re all trying to stand out. It’s an adaptation of something we’ve been preaching to businesses for years.

Can anyone stand out in a marketing world where everyone’s desire is to stand out?

It started with thinking that’s typical of Marketing 101: Everyone in advertising strived to make work that would “break through the clutter” or “cut through the noise” or “stand out in a sea of sameness.” But with so much marketing in the world, the problem is not that we want our work to be different. It’s just that when everyone screams, “look at me” all at the same time, no one gets the attention. And we’re all screaming in our own way.

But the desire to be special isn’t limited to the brands we work for. We’ve turned it on ourselves in the form of “personal branding.” It’s a cottage industry now, fueled by authors, bloggers, and marketers who preach the gospel of differentiation. At it’s core, it’s simply bragging, evolved. And it’s a game we all play.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Great column, Dan. 

    For me, the disconnect in our business comes from our efforts to make great communications for not so great products or services. To move the industry to a better place, the ads we make must be true reflections of the business they promote. Which means a whole lotta bullshit has to be called, and we all know that is tough to do when there are bills to pay. 

    Typically, clients don’t come to us for our bullshit detectors, they come to us to inflate their own belief systems (whether flawed or enlightened) and to earn them the attention of consumers. Where we can help is by showing how much more we can do more than earn that attention — we can spur sales and long-term brand loyalty, by improving not just the advertising, but the product or service itself. Maybe that’s asking for too much responsibility, but I don’t think it is. Marketing communications can’t be separate from the product or service. It’s all part of the same brand experience.