We have been shouting from the roof tops that the agency brand is the most important element of new business.

how to brand your ad agency

Unless you’ve made the effort to define your agency’s brand, you’re likely to miss one opportunity after another.

Sadly, there are many agencies that feel their brand is “good enough” or they’re happy with the generic “highly creative marketing firm.” Without a strong brand that stands out agencies run the risk of trying to be everything to everybody and consequently they will not be remembered – the brand effectively fades into the haze of marketing speak.

How to Brand an Ad Agency:

Let me share what one Midwestern agency in a highly competitive environment did to change their brand. They had been in business about twenty years, with no new business in the last 18 months. Some of their clients were drifting away, and they had just reduced staff by 15 percent. The agency’s brand stressed “creative creative creative” and full “industry specialization” above all else. Whatever that means. They reached out to us to decide on best course of action.

We recommended some research to check their branding in the current business environment. We conducted a series of interviews with their prospects and clients and used our Benefit Testing process as a way to check perceptions about marketing.

Quick side note: As a result of the study we were able to warn the agency about a serious problem on their largest account. The agency was able to take immediate action and save it.

We then led a Brand Retreat held at agency, where the results of the study were reviewed. Not surprisingly the findings pointed to an entirely different positioning, away from “creative creative creative” and its loose industry specialization. After one-day we were able to finalize:

  • A clear brand position
  • A new positioning line
  • The agency key benefits, attributes, and personality to appeal to prospects
  • How to define their industry specialization

A completely new graphics package was ordered and the agency staff was briefed, to many cheers (they felt the need for change long before the agency leadership did). All this work started an exciting cycle of growth.

Two months later and the agency was ready to really ramp up new business. Two account executives were trained in outreach and a strong new business system was established. Almost immediately one of largest accounts in their industry segment asked for an appointment. They went on the interview and followed proper procedures, built trust and did discovery. They did not discount the problem; rather they built urgency for change – made them feel the pain. They read the signs and believed they could fast close the prospect. The prospect toured the agency, loved the “how we would work with you” presentation (no creative) and hired the agency. It soon became the agency’s second largest account.

Three years later they were acquired by one of the holding companies. And it all started with the agency’s leadership taking a hard look at their brand. The leadership team took the information gleaned from our study and used it to develop an agency brand, and most importantly a plan to implement that brand in new business.

Most agencies need to conduct a thorough review of where they are in the new marketing landscape, where they are today and where they’re heading. This process will save your agency from years of trial and error trying to solidify agency direction and gain consistent growth. Or, if you really want to learn how to brand an ad agency, give us a call.


More binoculars photo by Chase Elliott Clark and used under creative commons