Agencies Have to Take Their Own Medicine

A Brief Struggle to Better Our Brand

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Peter Madden Peter Madden
Do you promote your agency? Really? Do you put it out there the way you do for your clients?

When we at AgileCat reflected on this question, the true answer was -- kind of, but not nearly enough.

When it comes to public relations, we enjoy a good position, known in the region as a solid branding agency, and even fortunate enough to enjoy some national coverage. Goody for us, right?

Not good enough! So sayeth Bob the Executioner (a.k.a, the consultant I wrote about weeks back).

So we became a client of ourselves. Big time. I found out a couple of things: 1) people have no problem telling me when an idea isn't good enough; 2) man, the pressure of trying to get to a great idea knowing that anyone who comes across it will be extra judgmental.

We are supposed to be a highly creative agency and if our own idea isn't on that level, it's not like we get a pass. Ryan Howard is allowed to strike out as often as he bombs one into the stands, but a branding agency better bat .1000 when branding itself.

So I thought, thought and thought. At the office at noon. In bed at 3 a.m. I banged my head against my desk. I met separately with our designers, account managers, throwing what I thought were the best ideas. The result? Blank stares typically reserved for cows in the field, when you drive by, roll down the window and yell "moooooo." (That's not just me who does that, is it?)

Anyway, after the stares would come the critique from various parties who work here. Why my big idea of the moment for an Agile campaign wouldn't work. Why it wasn't us. How it could backfire. Or why it just plain sucked.

Damn, the criticism stung. I want everything I create to be top rate. This is, of course, ridiculous. Looking back now, I can only feel very lucky to have people be able to look at the boss and say, "Sorry, try again."

Also battling me during this exercise was Bob the Basher, who was all over me to pull the trigger and just get the marketing moving. "Paralysis through analysis!" he would wail. This certainly didn't help the creativity flow like the Tigris. Finally, I had to ask Bob to put the Whack-a-Cat bat down because good ideas take time. No, I wasn't inventing fire, building Rome or composing a sonata, but damn -- this was my baby we're talking about!

Blood, sweat, jeers and tears later, I finally had IT. Guess what? The positioning is so good, it is ridiculous. Clever, crafty, a little cocky and all heart. Looking back, I'm glad I was the punching bag. It also helped me understand our real clients' worlds a little better. Patience is more than a virtue -- it's a necessity when the goal is real creativity.

So agency owners, where do you fall when it comes to self-promotion? How "out there" are you? Regionally, I can only think of one agency that is promoting its brand in a bigger way and that's fellow S.A.D. blogger Marc Brownstein's baby. If anything, as small agency owners, we have the pleasure of doing things differently without the fear or approval of stockholders driving our decisions.

So why not do something radical today and promote yourself? I look forward to your thoughts on our campaign. I don't plan on hearing cheers from all sides but I'm sleeping well at night knowing we've got all four paws on the playing field.

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