We’re different in that we’re actually different.
There. I said it.
There are 48,000 advertising, PR, digital, media and social media agencies that create and serve across America. Most of them believe they are unique to the next problem-solving company selling just down the street.
But the reality is most creative companies frankly smell the same.
They operate the same.
They use the same language to describe themselves.
They even say the same things by saying they aren’t the same.
So? Is anyone truly different?
Most agencies can’t evolve.
(Not that they don’t want to.)
If the cliché holds true, then perception is reality. You are what they think you are. ‘They" in this scenario equals everyone from CMOs, to your competition, to old employees, to reporters writing about the business.
You can spin it anyway you want (I recently heard a leader of one of the largest creative agencies in the world try to convince me that they were a ‘digital boutique’), but if people see you as an ad agency, it doesn’t matter what fancy words you use to say you’re something else — you’re just that.
Hence the reason Jon Bailey, Indra Gardiner and I first got together nine months ago. We started looking at both of our ‘creative agencies.’ What were we best at? What wasn’t working? What could the future look like? Were we prepared?
We decided to visit New York City to discuss the future of our business with some of our most progressive friends who run creative companies. We spoke to agency leaders, PR owners, social media experts and many more only to conclude that everything we had built, from a perception standpoint had to change.
It takes a heap of courage (and some good old-fashioned stupidity) to take two businesses, with 17 and 7 years of name equity, and basically throw it out the window. But that’s precisely what we’ve done.
We hit the redo button.
Our ultimate client (the consumer) demanded that our old agency model evolve. We had to rethink and refresh our own way of doing business to better serve people.
About six months ago, behind closed doors, we started reworking it from the inside-out, with our culture as priority No. 1A. We created a unique process that would consistently allow us to land on the right-sized idea for our client – the consumer, (creating, executing, sharing) which became No. 1B.
Then came our name.
The name itself, i.d.e.a., stands for different things for different i.d.e.a. people. We have 10 unique definitions that describe the nine disciplines we have in-house. And we chose to define i.d.e.a. differently for our brand partner as they too are on our side, within our ecosystem, to best/better serve our true client, their consumer.
That client, the consumer, lives in a fast-paced, media-obese world where they are inundated with over 10,000 messages a day — across all sorts of mediums and screens. We hypothesized that the only way to get above that noise was to start attacking these problems differently.
So? Are we different than all those folks who say they’re different?
The number one differentiator at i.d.e.a. is, 'Allways Matter®’. That's not a typo. For one, if we’re going to deliver a power idea to a potential brand partner, it better have meaning and it must have the performance-enhancing qualities to help you move people, products or culture. The second meaning of ‘Allways Matter®’ is that any and all ways need to be looked at before deciding upon the most appropriate and effective way to attack a brand partner’s issue.
Maybe advertising is the best way to begin to tackle a problem. Or maybe it’s packaging at the aisle. Or an event in a parking lot. Or a hashtag in social. Or a press conference. Or something else?
Or maybe I’ve already said too much about our secret sauce?
Originally published Jun 11, 2012 1:00:38 AM, updated December 02 2014