What Kind of Agency Are You?

Argument About 'Traditional' vs. 'Digital' Misses the Point

By Published on .

Darryl Ohrt
Darryl Ohrt
The recent hoopla over the difference between digital agencies and traditional agencies got me to thinking "What kind of agency are we?"

Small agencies are in a unique position of understanding both sides of this "leadership" challenge, as we sit on both sides of the fence every day. Smaller clients count on us as their one and only agency. Larger clients and other agencies bring us in as the specialists to accomplish specific tasks and goals.

When people ask about our agency, I often struggle with an industry categorization. I'd never use the term "traditional" to describe our operation, yet I don't believe that "digital" is the best descriptor, either. For that matter, do traditional agencies even call themselves "traditional"? Probably not.

I usually refer to us as a "digital creative agency," which is just vague enough to cover everything we do, while sounding relatively hot from a digital perspective.

But really...aren't we all digital? The term seems like a ridiculous descriptor. I can't even remember the last time anyone in our agency produced anything on boards, paper, film or tape. Even print campaigns are now digital at every step in the agency creation and production process.

So, what are we?

We're not an advertising agency, but we perform many ad-agency functions.

We're not a design firm, but we produce award winning design work.

We're not a branding agency, although we create brand campaigns.

We're not a social-media agency, although it's integrated into every project we touch.

I suspect that we're not that different than many agencies our size.

Meanwhile, the lines are blurred further with each day between the larger agencies, too. Bottom line? There are too many buckets. Creative. Branding. Design. Strategy & Planning. Promotion. PR. Social Media. Experiential. What are clients supposed to think?

So from here on in, we're sticking with "creative agency." If we're in the mood, we'll throw the word "digital" in front.

Darryl Ohrt is a former punk rocker, the founder of creative agency Plaid and chief contributor to the greatest blog in all of the land, BrandFlakesForBreakfast. While his business card says he's "band manager" for the agency, Darryl prefers to call himself an internetologist. Darryl knows just enough to be dangerous. He's on the internet right now, playing, investigating and exploring. Watch out.
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