This part is "Be Ready for an Intimate Relationship." The next episode in this ongoing series from a long-time agency insider. This series explores how to wrest the most out of every dollar and minute that you spend with an agency. Marketing, branding, digital, creative, PR, SEO; all agencies have their differences, but they all have their commonalities, too. This series addresses questions that our clients have asked over the years...and those they haven't thought to ask, too.
BE READY FOR AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP
Other than, perhaps, taking on an investor, hiring an agency is going to be one of the most intimate third party relationships you are going to have. In the best agency-client relationships, the agency personnel
They are going to be in a relationship of incredible trust with you—they are, after all, going to be responsible for creating, extending, refining, or activating your brand. One of the most valuable assets a company can have, the crown jewels, indeed.
If you’re hiring an agency to create a brand for your business the intimacy will come from the exploration that the agency will do in collaboration with you. Developing a strong and effective brand takes introspection on the part of your company, something the agency will both facilitate and experience with you. It takes extensive research into your product, market space, and competitive space, so they will get to know you well from multiple angles. You will gain the benefit of having an intelligent, honest, third party evaluate your entire business from every dimension. And provide feedback that has only your best interests at heart.
If you’re hiring an agency to help you extend, refine, or polish your brand, you are choosing someone to work with one of your most valuable assets, one you have likely spent years and immensely hard work developing. Simply allowing a company to do that puts them into a very intimate relationship with you. Again, a good agency will spend a lot of time and effort to fully understand what your brand means (to every stakeholder, inside and outside the company). Then, it will determine how best to mold it so you can maintain the goodwill you have built, and use that as a foundation to reach new heights. Again, it’s a little like getting a full-body scan; your brand and company will be examined from many angles and dimensions.
Whatever the reason you have brought on an agency, go into the relationship being prepared for an intimate one. This means that you may need to answer questions that are difficult, look at parts of the business that may not be pretty, take a hard look at what hasn’t worked well and why. You’ll also get to show off the best parts of the business; the grand successes, the coolest parts of the product or service, the customers who love you and wouldn’t dream of doing their business without you.
As with any type of relationship, but especially relationships of deep intimacy, be prepared to do your end of the work, and expect that the agency will do theirs as well. Just as with marriages or social relationships, one-way (or lopsided) relationships fall apart quickly with both
Which is decidedly not what you want! The outcome of this engagement is only a win when everyone involved wins, and that means on emotional-intellectual levels, but also on the easier-to-measure business level.
Ideally, at the conclusion of the branding
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