Rebranding Creative Dimensions

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Advertising agencies are notorious for putting their own brand on the backburner while they focus on their clients’ brands. It’s the old case of the cobbler’s children going without shoes. That’s probably because ad agency branding is an incredibly difficult undertaking. Not only is finding the time to work on your own brand an issue – when you’re busy with paying clients – but feeling satisfied with the work is another huge obstacle. The work not only has to be effective at capturing the essence of the agency and its people, but we hold our own branding up as an example of the quality and attention to detail our clients could, and should, give to their own brands.

So when is the right time to rebrand? For us, the time was now because we’ve realized fundamental changes in our company, mainly in experience and capabilities. Taking a page from our name, we truly are much more dimensional than ever before. With the hiring of some key new people, we have combined experience that’s now broader and deeper. We’ve always excelled at traditional advertising and media planning and buying, but now we also boast expertise in strategic planning, digital marketing and brand development, among other things.

To give you a brief glimpse behind the green curtain, here are the highlights of our rebranding process:

1. The Discovery Process

We began by having an honest conversation with ourselves and asking a lot of questions. Some easy…some not so easy. What do we stand for as an agency? What do we want to say about ourselves? What do others think about us? What is our competition doing and saying about themselves? What do potential clients look for in an agency? And so on, and so on, and so on…

2. What We Believe

After spending a considerable amount of time hammering out step one, we ultimately decided to hang our collective branding hats on What We Believe – personifying our business philosophy you might say. We boiled it down to nine “beliefs” that state who we are as an agency, and what our current and future marketing partners can expect from us.

3. Brand Look & Feel

Finally, the fun part! We moved onto designing a new agency logo, business cards, stationery, agency brochure and ultimately a new web site. We decided to go bold, colorful, and slightly irreverent, while providing enough – but hopefully not too much – information about our agency.

4. Execution

With the new site up and running and our identity package complete, now it’s time to practice what we preach through shameless self-promotion. We are dedicated to continually updating the site and posting to social media, while always looking for new ways to improve our agency and bring better results to our clients.

This is a simplified snapshot of what we’ve been up to the past few months. If you’d like additional information about our process, or how the process might apply to your company, please give us a call or send us an email. Until then, we hope you appreciate the outcome of the Creative Dimensions’ rebranding process. It’s been a labor of love. (With great emphasis on the word “labor”).

– Steve Schaeffer, Creative Director/CEO @ Creative Dimensions

Does a Mantra Make an Agency?

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Agencies love their mantras. And I understand why…kind of.

The mantra is the little sub-brand an agency trademarks that represents its point of difference, usually a process or philosophy. By definition, a mantra is a mystical formula of invocation or incantation. (Basically, a bunch of mumbo jumbo.)

One agency that touts creative branding has “Brand Storm.” Another that claims specialization in consumer behavior has “Rehavior.” There are others with “ABC” processes, brand “obsessions,” “simple solutions,” and ones who bridge, migrate, accelerate, empower, translate and basically enshrine a verb that suggests that cool things are going to happen.

Agencies are people, and people like to think they are unique. “Hey, I’m special and I like me. I have a mantra that tells others why they should like me, too.” We’re better at strategies, because the strategic thinkers at our place have “StrataGoodness.” Our creative is more attractive, because we are “Imag-O-netic.” We communicate better with youth audiences, because we’re “Just Kidding.” And our smiles are brighter, because we all use fluoride.

From a client’s point of view, when presented with three zebras, they see similar stripes, tails and hooves. Ah, but they also see the third zebra has “StripeForce™” that gives their messages to other zebras more…er, something.

What I’d like to see is what really differentiates agencies. You and I. People and the experiences each brings to the party define an agency. While not as trademarkable, I’d love to see an agency claim it’s better, because it has “Donald, Marie, Jess and Lee Who Have 82 Years of Combined Health Care Experience.”

Okay, that sucks as a mantra.

But, it’s the truth. None of us has a magic machine into which client wishes go in one end and guaranteed results come out the other. Few of us have certifiable geniuses whose x-ray minds see things others don’t. We, if we’re smart, have smart people, our “intellectual property,” as some say. If hired with a holistic view, all those juicy brains can interface well with one another and actually become a sort of machine that produces consistently superior results.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying, go ahead and appreciate our clever little mantras, but please, spend more time getting to know our people. That’s where you’ll get true “Ad-isfaction.”

– John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions

Invasion of the Facebook Robots

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BusinessInsider.com recently ran a story entitled, “How Facebook is Replacing Ad Agencies with Robots.” While the ever-innovative Facebook has created a golden goose with their side bar ads, my Scoff-o-Meter pegs out at the thought of their destroying agency jobs.

For one, Facebook is social media, not the entire spectrum of media.

For two, these killer robot ads are new and never were the domain of ad agencies, ergo nobody’s losing a job over them. Teach a couple of monkeys the Facebook interface, feed them content and you have yourself a robot ad staff.

For three, the ads living in the Facebook ecosystem are very limited, direct-response ads without even the branding layer a print circular can deliver.

And, speaking of branding, I’ve yet to meet a robot that knew a thing about it. We’ve seen in study after study that with the proliferation of media and competition for consumer attention, branding is more important than ever. Good branding rarely jumps out of the brain of an in-house staffer. It comes from the informed brains of marketing specialists who’ve been down the road with a variety of businesses and have a deep understanding of markets and how the consumer interacts with them. Those specialists are called ad agencies.

Even the interactive phenomenon the Dos Equis brand created came from the mind of brand thinkers. It is still living large on Facebook, and I’m betting some talented agency people had more than a little to do with it.

New media does and will continue to challenge agencies, and we all know the rules redefine themselves daily. If you’re selling a commodity product where price is the distinguishing feature, call Facebook. If you have a service or product people need to care about before buying, call an agency.

Robots, as everyone knows, are best left to destroying planetary colonies in outer space.

– John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions

Vendor vs. Pander

I have no answer to the question I’m about to pose, but maybe you do. The question boils down to this: Are agencies Dictators, Consultants, Vendors or Panderers?

In the “Mad Men” days, agencies could often act as Dictators and prescribe how a brand was to be marketed. It didn’t always happen this way, but when you read Ogilvy and other luminaries of the period, you hear of companies swallowing the advice of their agencies without many questions and a big gulp of faith.

By the late 70s, early 80s, that kind of magisterial power had been supplanted by…what? Savvier clients? Ex-agency marketing directors? The rise of consultants? Whatever happened, we saw agencies begin aspiring to, at most, the role of a guide who could maybe lead—but not control–the course of a brand, becoming more Sacajawea than Caesar.

With the Internet, the proliferation of boutique agencies and everybody and their dog and their dog’s fleas thinking they have mad skillz in PhotoShop, CMS, Dreamweaver and all social media, mid-size to small agencies scramble to fulfill any role they can. As such, we end up being Vendors supplying only parts of our clients’ brand strategies, too often not having the opportunity to work with other vendors. Say, one group doing the brand ID work might have little to no hand in guiding other groups doing collateral, online or promotional work. The brand face on television doesn’t resemble the brand on facebook, etcetera.

And that brings us to Panderers. In the last ten years, I’ve known—and worked for—several very smart agencies who have found that advising the client actually had negative effects. A client might respond to a presentation with something like, “But we’ve heard this or we’ve read that and what we want is this.” Pushing back meant getting punched out. So, to meet the bottom line and keep the business, it seems agencies are giving more and more of whatever is asked with little question.

So what’s the answer? Flee to one of the few remaining prestige agencies on the coasts and hope the poison hasn’t reached toxic levels there? Bring firearms to strategy meetings? Don lingerie and try seduction? Please let me know your thoughts, as I look terrible in a teddy.

–John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions