An outside agency can take your brand to the next level | Insights

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Why your agency should be pushing you toward unexpected creative ideas

March 2021

  • Justin Renvoize, Creative Director
  • James Chutter, Digital Strategist

When working with an outside agency, you expect the work you receive to conform to expectations. After all, every project is built upon a foundation that rises from the submission of a brief, followed by the delivery of a solution to suit your needs.

But ultimately, you’re working with an agency, not a production house. While it’s rewarding to find what you expect in creative work, some of the richest rewards can be found when your agency delivers a solution that falls outside your brand’s comfort zone. By seeing an idea you may not expect, brands gain a greater understanding of what’s possible when the situation is right.

Obviously, your agency shouldn’t be going rogue and coloring outside the lines of your project with no reasoning behind its efforts beyond showcasing its skills. When backed by thorough research, a multi-faceted approach to creative provides proves your agency is willing to go the extra mile in resolving your problem.

Plus, by presenting two options – one that meets your needs and another that pushes you further – you have the potential to better understand your brand’s problems. In the process, you and your agency partner will understand one another better as well.

Agency research takes your brand to the next level

One of the core benefits of hiring an outside agency is finding fresh approaches to your brand's needs. But in addition to the creative gains made possible through applying a fresh perspective, your agency can only find the strongest solutions through considered research.

At We The Collective, all of our work is drawn from insights taken from the brief. Once that has been thoroughly examined, we conduct thorough brand and consumer research to find new insights. After considering an assortment of sources, we offer clients a safer, more expected solution to their problem. Then, using the same research, we present an idea that may make them feel a bit uncomfortable. However, with an approach built on data, your agency's less-comfortable solution remains grounded in the original problem.

From placing thousands of bananas in a block of ice to producing a daily tribute to the majesty of the potato, We The Collective has encouraged clients to launch an assortment of unconventional campaigns. Initially, the ideas may have seemed risky. But if approached thoughtfully, an irreverent approach can lead somewhere that's memorable and effective.

Brands don’t want to look foolish, so they typically shy away from making fun of themselves. But by basing work on research among your fans and competition, your agency can find new directions that would’ve otherwise gone unexplored.

Consistent prototyping encourages new ideas and collaboration

In “Mad Men,” unexpected directions for advertising campaigns took flight on the strength of show-stopping presentations. If an agency delivers a strong enough finished product, then any brand will be awed by its brilliance. From there, the idea sells itself, right?

While that makes for critically acclaimed TV, it’s not the best approach for finding an effective campaign for your business. Ultra-polished presentations may be entertaining, but they prevent your agency from further improving its approach. By inviting and applying creative feedback, your agency's work can grow that much stronger.

Instead of presenting a finished product, your agency should take an iterative approach. As your project progresses, your agency should share work-in-progress prototypes at every step. We agree with the design firm IDEO, which believes, “never come to a meeting without a prototype.” From a low-fi wireframe to higher end mock-ups, prototypes allow your project to continually improve with a collaborative approach.

When your brand comes along for the journey in creating a campaign, risky ideas suddenly feel a lot safer. Rather than wondering about the source of an idea for a campaign, your team contributes to refining its approach.

Plus, by taking part in creating a campaign, you and your team feel more invested in the idea. Once it comes time to submit the campaign to stakeholders, you’re more driven to see a once-risky approach gain approval.

Unexpected campaign approaches plant seeds for future ideas

When your agency submits two distinct approaches to resolve your brand’s problem, it’s not because they favor a risky idea over the safe one. Very often, we submit a perhaps surprising solution with the expectation that the idea will be killed. But by starting a conversation around the idea and its reasoning, the risky approach is already delivering on its promise.

If your agency never initiates a discussion around risky ideas, then your brand will never shift its thinking further down the road. At the beginning of your engagement with an agency, an unconventional idea may seem radical to you or your stakeholders. As your relationship continues, you build trust in your agency and grow to understand the roots of its thinking. After awhile, those risky ideas that seemed as if they’d never work for your brand feel much safer.

Ultimately, your brand is making an investment in working with an agency because it wants to pursue unique thinking. If you don’t see more than you’ve been asking for from an agency, your meetings grow stale and a little boring. As a result, your creative does too.

As we’ve worked with clients, they’ve come to expect seeing an idea that makes them a little less comfortable alongside a more expected approach. If this sounds like a way of working that can move your creative forward, let’s talk.