These days, change feels like it happens at an exponential quantity and pace. It’s no secret that this puts brands in a tough spot. Brands, after all, are supposed to stand for something, but they also need to evolve with the rest of the world. That’s where agencies come in.
A Paradox at Play
When uncertainty abounds, there’s a tendency to flee to certainty. A boon on the one hand, brands can act as sanctuaries of consistency and reliability in times of uncertainty. Go to any Marriott in the world, and you know exactly what to expect. On the other hand, tastes and expectations evolve. Brands can’t be complacent or dig in their heels against change. They must embrace it.
Take Nike. Their “Just do it” slogan continues to resonate since it was rolled out in the late 1980s. Nick DePaula, an NBA feature writer, explained to NPR, “Not only was the slogan great, and also approachable and vague enough that anybody could apply it to whatever it was they were trying to aspire to do.” They’ve used it to inspire more empowerment and social progress for gender and racial equity, among other causes.
Nike managed to walk the tightrope of staying consistent to their brand while morphing it at the same time. You can bet their agency of record played an essential role in helping them navigate that paradoxical truth.
How Agencies Help Brands Navigate Waves of Change
An Objective, Knowledgeable Voice
Agencies have the unique position of being simultaneous insiders and outsiders. They can see from the inside: they understand the business and the brand, they understand the risks and the opportunities. And they see the brand from the outside: as consumers see it, as competitors see it. As a result, they’re able to stay more objective and clearer headed, seeing facts through an empathetic lens from the points of view of both the business and the consumers.
Uncover Insights and Stories within the Data
Data drives much decision-making today. As helpful as it is, it’s only part of the story, especially because much data is historical and lacks context. The numbers and charts can’t help if you can’t glean the narratives within them. An agency can help you take your data and turn it into a cohesive story with the development of personas, competitive analyses and trend reports. This helps you make your data actionable. The closer your predictive data can be to real time, the more empowered you’ll be to make impactful decisions.
A Flexible, Opportunistic Mindset
Most agencies are like speed boats to a brand’s tanker. They’re able to turn more quickly, speed ahead, do reconnaissance and zip back to the tanker. They can spot a competitor’s misstep and explain how the brand can take advantage of it. They can encourage more innovation and nudge brands to push the envelope in both small and big ways. They help the brand avoid falling into autopilot mode, coasting on its size, by pushing it to new horizons. Agencies help free up brands to focus on what they do best—run their business—by taking on the marketing.
What Brands Should Look for in an Agency
Agencies are people, so brands need to find one with the right talent that’s forward-thinking, nimble and integrated. Here’s why.
With unprecedented change afoot, challenging the status quo needs to happen more rapidly and frequently than ever before. To do that, brands need to work with agencies who are focused on the future. Looking ahead means being curious in the here and now by devouring information, connecting dots in new and unusual ways and seeking out opportunity at every possible turn.
Next, agencies need to be both nimble and level-headed. It’s not enough to simply respond; they also need to sift through mountains of information to separate what’s important from what isn’t. Without clarity and purpose, nimbleness can quickly devolve into chaos. For example, Heinrich strategists know how to keep their eyes on the destination and that there are any number of ways to get there.
Last, look for an integrated agency. While it’s tempting to piecemeal your marketing efforts across specialty agencies—paid media here, social there—an integrated agency can connect dots across your entire marketing ecosystem. Writer David Epstein argues that generalists can perform better in uncertainty, saying, “The more varied your training is, the better able you’ll be to apply your skills flexibility to situations you haven’t seen.” An agency with both depth and breadth of in-house talent, like Heinrich has, is the same. Brands can tap into that diverse, coordinated skills set to better ride the waves of uncertainty as they occur.
The right agency partner awaits, one that’s born for business and can lead your brand from where it is today to where it needs to be tomorrow. That’s how Heinrich shows up—every single day.