Global agencies like to think big but summing up the brand in 100 pages won’t help people to get it

I’m part of a global business and we use a global agency. We have some of the best brand guidelines in the world, it’s just a shame they run to 100 pages.

Secret Marketer

Interestingly, I used to work for one of the strongest global brands, and before I joined I wondered what made it so successful at being able to adopt strong brand principles across many regions and product lines. When I joined, one thing really struck me – its brand guidelines were on one page, not the inch-thick tome that other brands insist on.

I asked the group brand director how they managed to get by with only one page. He said it was because people “just got it”. If you have a 100-page brand manual, people never really get to grips with what the brand is about. But when it is summed up on one page, people can understand what the brand stands for and it becomes part of their whole approach to their work. There is a lot to be said for keeping things simple. 

Aside from that, another problem with a global agency is that it likes to do big, expensive global things. But most of the time we require the less glamorous but equally important low-key day-to-day things such as demand generation campaigns, collateral and sales enablement material – the things that the big boys don’t want to get out of bed for.

So we need our own agencies that will work with the 100-page brand manual but produce the campaign activity to suit our local business demands. The problem is that this naturally leads you into a pool of agencies that do exactly what
they are asked. 

My issue with that is that if I wanted just what I’d asked for, I wouldn’t need an agency – I’d be able to do it myself. 

I want agencies that will challenge me, that want to differentiate my brand and go beyond the brief. But this is often difficult, when you’re working in the shadow of a mega-network agency.

So that is my challenge – to find an agency that ‘gets’ my brand, is happy to play second fiddle to the global boys but will go the extra mile for me. Oh – and do it for a mere pittance.

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