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Our opinion on... “ c reating and delivering ” experiences While it seems the communication industry has made great strides in the realm of “integration,” there are clear indications that in terms of actual “brand integration” we are still in the dark ages. And one of the clearest manifestations of this stymied thinking is (not surprisingly) one of the deepest causes of tension between clients and agencies – the size of the logo in the ad. This relatively minor issue is probably the biggest cause of friction and frustration in agency relationships. While everything else in our business is studied to death, we generally dismiss this issue as an inevitable, unmanageable client agency “thing”. But, is it? It is hard to believe that agencies would seriously risk client relationships based on a minor point which makes, at the end of the day, very little difference1. Surely art directors are not really as immature and insecure as to fight to the death for something based solely on their subjective design sensibilities? And surely advertising managers are not so stubborn and bloody minded that they will sacrifice their reputations on behalf of an abstract dogma that insists: the bigger the logo the better the ad? And surely agency and client management would not buy each other dinner so frequently to smooth over the ruffled feathers caused by this issue? Does nobody have anything better to do?


This is clearly an exaggeration – if the logo is the sole means of identifying the sponsor of the ad, then it needs to be large enough to be read; this point is especially important for outdoor advertising


Protean Strategies is a Toronto based management consulting firm. Since 1997 we have been helping large and small companies convert brand value into higher margins and bottom line profits by understanding their stakeholders needs; building powerful strategies; and aligning business practices with marketing and sale to a common goal.

There is, in fact, a much deeper pathol-

know about the brand essence: who it

ogy at play – a pathology dealing not

is and what it stands for.

with human neuroses, but resident in the development, management and integration of the brand in the business.

While this important component of the brand strategy is clear to everybody in the client’s world, it is never truly ex-

In order to understand this it is neces-

plained to the agency. Rarely, if ever,

sary to understand the process of de-

would the “branding firm” be brought

veloping logos as expressions of

into the agency to brief them on the


brand essence. On the contrary, the

Logos are the end product of a

agency undertakes a similar project

“Branding” project that is (most often)

and develops another version of the

undertaken by brand identity firms

brand essence – one which they believe

who specialize in this area. Their proc-

needs to be intrinsically and power-

ess, much like that of advertising agen-

fully expressed in the advertising.

cies, is to develop a deep understand-

Hence, when placing the logo into the

ing of the brand, build a brand archi-

ad the agency does not see it perform-

tecture to define and describe the

ing any communication role other than,

brand, and finally crystallize a creative

in conjunction with the company name,

expression of the brand – a wordmark

to identify the sponsor of the ad. Why,

or symbol that they believe, and impor-

then, from the perspective of the

tantly the client believes, encapsulates

agency, is there any need to make it

everything the brand stands for. When

any bigger than it absolutely needs to

the board of directors accepts the new


logo and identity for their brand, there is no question in anybody’s mind but that when the stakeholders (including consumers) see this logo in conjunction with (or, as in the case of brands like Nike, instead of) the name, they will know everything they need to

On the other hand, from the client perspective, why does the ad need to be imbued with so much subtlety (in order to communicate the essence of the brand) when the logo (if only it were bigger and more proudly displayed) does it more efficiently, if not more efPage 2

fectively. (In a more pragmatic view,

clearly defined and consistently ex-

the CFO and CEO are looking to see a

plained to all aspects of the business

return on their huge investment in the

from the outset. Think of the brand as

logo – which in and of itself is a contra

the business equivalent of pre-


-indication for small, elegant logos! )

linguistic, pre-behavioral determina-

The underlying problem is the absence

tion – the company’s super-ego that in-

of effective brand integration and a

forms everything it is and does, not

common misunderstanding of what

only how it looks and what it says.

brand integration really is. It is not

Under these circumstances the adver-

news to anybody in the business that

tising creative and logo (and every-

integration does not mean only that all

thing else the company does) would

ads look alike or feature a common

harmonize, and the issue of bigger or

theme or element; or even that all com-

smaller would never again be raised.

munications in all media look alike; or

No, really!

even that all communications deliver the same intrinsic idea and brand meaning. Brand Integration means that a single brand idea is consistently delivered at every stakeholder touchpoint. This, in turn, suggests that integration starts long before the communication agencies are involved and even before the “branding” firms are involved. Integration starts with the realization that the brand underlies the overall business strategy and therefore needs to be


As an example, the city of Toronto intends to spend $4,000,000 to develop a new logo, tag line and stationery package – a huge investment, but apparently not out of line for this kind of project. Page 3

Opinion -- Why agencies and clients don't see eye to eye on creative  

Protean Strategies is a Toronto based management consulting firm. Since 1997 we have been helping large and small companies convert brand va...

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