This Guy Says Ad Agencies Can't Do Branding And Basically Just 'Make Things Look Cool'

Someone posed this question on Quora, "What is the difference between an advertising agency and a branding consultant?" Horin Branding Co-Founder Fahim Mugdho answered saying that basically, ad agencies just make ads and are not involved with the development of a brand's strategy. 

He says branding consultants do all the heavy lifting; brand diagnosis, brand architecture, brand strategy, brand execution and media and ad planning. He writes: "It's like branding agencies do the math, advertising agencies do the jump according to the math." Yes, he really did say that. Branding consultants say "jump" and ad agencies respond, "How high?"

I’d agree that there are a lot of creative shops out there that do indeed simply react to an assigned brand strategy. But most agencies have brand development capabilities in-house and can certainly take the lead on brand development. To just toss off ad agencies as order fillers is disingenuous at best, and well, just plain wrong. Every ad agency I've worked for and most every ad agency I am familiar with is fully capable of developing a brand strategy.

What are your thoughts? Does your agency help your clients develop their brand strategy? Or do you just make ads?



2 comments about "This Guy Says Ad Agencies Can't Do Branding And Basically Just 'Make Things Look Cool'".
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  1. Neil Mahoney from Mahoney/Marketing, July 20, 2015 at 7:54 a.m.

    Branding requires exposure, exposure, exposure.  There's no substitute for it.  A good ad agency will do this for you with efective ad exposure. publicity, a presence where prospects gather (trade shows, etc,), speaking engagements, publicity, etc.  As I say in my book, "Social Media Rules," Branding is not easy.  Branding is not cheap.  Branding is forever. 

    Certain products have it easier because of everyday use and the press they get.  Still, any company must work at Branding everyday of the product's life -- for life.  When you have an effective campaogn, stick with it.  Don't change your slogan evey time you change your socks.  Neil Mahoney

  2. Neil Mahoney from Mahoney/Marketing, July 20, 2015 at 12:27 p.m.

    My earlier comment failed to include the most-important factor that's essential to effective branding:  Proper market segmentation and powerful Value Propositions.  To do this you must look inside what you believe to be your major markets, and determine who the heavy users are.  These are the prospects who are the most knowledgeable and account for the large bulk of purchases.  Once you determine these top prospects, determine their few major wants & needs.  Compare your advantages & disadvantages vs. the competition, and based on that develop a truly effective Value Proposition -- on that's short, trips off the tongue, and clearly sets you above and apart from the competition.  Use it everywhere you can.  Neil Mahoney

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