How innovative is your agency?
Good work comes from the marriage of a client, an agency, and a brand.
While a certain degree of friction can be productive, it’s important that the union also has plenty of common ground. Is it a Tom Jones and romantic dinners kind of marriage? Or more German techno and leather underwear?
One of the big factors to consider in searching for the perfect match is how innovative you want to be – both in your general approach to marketing, and to technology specifically.
The easiest way to think about this as a marketer is by placing yourself, your brand, and the agencies you work with on the well-known Rogers’ diffusion of innovation curve – from innovators through to laggards.
When deciding where you and your brand fall on the curve, it’s important to remember that there is no single ‘right’ answer. Not every brand should be at the bleeding edge.
There are opportunities (and challenges) at every stage on the curve. What you need to be sure of is that your agencies are comfortable playing in your part of the curve – otherwise the marriage is headed for confusion.
It’s also important to realise that your position is not permanent. Brands like Old Spice and Volkswagen have shown that a concerted effort can dramatically reposition a ‘tired’ brand through innovation.
Conversely, it’s not unusual to watch previously ‘edgy’ brands become mainstream, often in the search for larger markets.
If you see yourself toward the innovative end of the curve when it comes to marketing your brand, you need to consider whether you place yourself before or after what Moore described as the ‘chasm’ separating ‘visionaries’ from ‘pragmatists’. On one side are innovative visionaries like Red Bull and Burger King, venturing into unchartered territory and risking failure.
On the other side are progressive pragmatists like McDonalds and Nike, who may never be the first, but will strive constantly to be the best.
The way many agencies approach problems tends to situate them in a particular part of the curve. There are hype-chasing ‘pre-chasm’ agencies, constantly pushing the limits and creating new possibilities. There are strategic, progressive ‘post-chasm’ agencies adopting leading innovative best practice. And there are agencies who deploy tried and tested approaches and advertising technologies – including those that make some of the best and most effective (traditional) advertising in the world.
A good match is one between a client, an agency and a brand that is based on a shared point of view on innovation.
Get it right and you can build powerful brand communication. Get it wrong and you can end up looking like a grandmother wearing hot pants, arguing about Justin Bieber.