How do startups, established companies, and even influencers get more traction, close deals, and build buzz? Many partner with ad agencies to help them spread their messaging and get them a serious lift. In fact, ad agencies frequently play essential roles when it comes to helping businesses profit and scale digitally and offline.
In the United States, thousands of ad agencies operate in the online space. And COVID didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the industry. Between 2020 and 2021, ad agency growth skyrocketed by more than 13% according to figures from IBISWorld.
With this in mind, you may want to reinvigorate or launch your own ad agency. However, you can’t afford to simply market your entity and hope everything goes well. With so much competition, you owe it to the future of your firm to focus on your branding efforts.
Having a strong corporate brand will allow you to differentiate from all the other ad agencies on the market. At the same time, you’ll be able to woo stronger, well-aligned talent to make up your core team.
Not sure where to start with your ad agency branding? Try these practical tips and steps to cement your brand and present it to the world.
1. Highlight your team’s superpowers.
Your ad agency isn’t like other ad agencies, so highlight and own your uniqueness as part of your brand. Rather than putting yourself out there as one of the herd, be the purple cow that only appeals to a specific cadre of clientele. The more you concentrate on your individual strengths and benefits, the easier it will be for you to court qualified leads.
Consider the case of The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine in Florida. After years of paying ad agencies to handle their marketing, the founding partners decided to take legal advertising into their own hands. Their key superpowers? The team already knew how to negotiate and build win-win relationships. Consequently, they transferred those legal skills and other resources into the media buying realm. As a result, Anidjar & Levine started their own in-house ad agency.
2. Identify and target your ideal customers.
It can be tempting to try to serve all types of customers when you first open your ad agency doors or after pandemic-related economic fluctuations. Resist this temptation. Positioning yourself as the ad agency for “anyone” waters down your brand.
Buyers like to feel as if they’re part of an exclusive group. When you’re willing to take on any client who has money, you have little power or control. Plus, you end up hurting your agency by limiting it with a “jack of all trades, master of none” aura.
Yes, it can be challenging to narrow down your target customer base. It can even feel a little constricting when you realize your total addressable market is smaller than you thought. Nevertheless, selling a stronger product to a concentrated number of people or companies can be lucrative. Think of it as the difference between a luxury sports car and an everyday sedan. The high-end vehicle isn’t for everyone, but its makers can command much higher prices. When you’re branded as the Ferrari of ad agencies for a narrower group of customers, you’ll spend less time spinning your wheels. Plus, you’ll spend more time building a solid pipeline.
3. Keep a close eye on your competitors.
Disruption happens in all fields, including advertising and marketing. Your nearest competitor might not be a company you know. That’s why it’s important to stay in-the-know when it comes to established and up-and-coming ad agencies.
You can use tools like social listening software to help you gauge what’s happening in the race to win ad agency contracts. You can also task a team member with reading agency-related news items and staying up to date on industry trends.
How will this help your ad agency with its branding strategy? Quite honestly, you’ll know whether it’s time to push an aspect of your branding to stay in the lead. For example, a competing agency may put on a branding push of its own. You can respond by countering with your own brand-focused messaging. This is what Wendy’s does well on Twitter with its saucy retorts to competitors. Your agency doesn’t have to be quite so bold, but the principle—and branding outcome—will remain the same.
4. Revisit your brand and branding strategies regularly.
The best ways to brand or showcase your ad agency and its key abilities will change over time. Just a few years ago, TikTok wasn’t a blip on anyone’s radar. Now, it’s a player for consumer attention, and your ad agency may specialize in creating viral TikToks for clients.
As you keep up with changes in media, keep up with changes in your brand. One way to do this could be to elicit both internal and external feedback on a routine basis. Customer and employee surveys can provide you with a wealth of data to make sure your branding stays on pitch. The last thing you want is for your brand to succumb to an outdated feel.
Of course, if you end up merging with another ad agency or expanding suddenly, you’ll want to revisit your brand. Growth often leads to changes in the values that back your brand, or the way you want to present your brand.
As the head of an ad agency, you’re knee-deep in a competitive environment. Make sure you’ve positioned your agency to stay light years ahead with some solid branding efforts.