Few things go as well together as Fish & Chips, Mint & Lemon, or Brunch & Fridays. When it comes to your business relationships however, you can probably count on a couple of hands just how many truly great and satisfying relationships your firm has garnered over the years. Great partnerships power brands have in common are client agency relationships.
In the Middle East, relationships are everything in business. However, client agency relationships seem to be overlooked or plainly undervalued. It has become fact-totem of the region’s creative industry that long lasting client-agency relationships are as rare as legible government-sponsored safety campaigns. All too often, creative works are commissioned in a similar way to nuts and bolts – the lowest cost is the best. If you’re considering only the immediate cost of creativity, the guy in accounts is going to have a supremely detrimental effect on your brand’s long term value.
What brands in the Middle East fail to appreciate is the essential nature of client agency relationships in creating business advantage. The industry’s best work is the result of long lasting creative relationships. For instance, Honda’s brand image has been forged largely thanks to the insightful and often large scale creative muscle of Wieden & Kennedy. For decades, some of Apple’s most iconic advertising resulted from its founder’s partnership with Chiat Day. The firm was so instrumental in crafting Apple’s image that Steve Jobs sacked the incumbent agency and reappointed Chiat Day when he was brought back to lead the firm in 1997.
Harnessing the passion of creative people
What power brands like Apple and Honda understand is the power of harnessing creativity and the passion of creative people in the pursuit of their business objectives. To remain relevant, brands have to evolve consistently and this evolution takes deep understanding of a brand’s DNA and soul. In the Middle East, the sense of permanence is a relatively new thing and things change like sandiness in a breeze, more often to the detriment of a brand’s consistency. Considered evolution becomes chaotic revolution and the equity and trust a brand has struggled to build is lost.
All brands have to evolve to remain relevant to a changing society and its evolving expectations. Evolving a brand has to be done in tune with its strategy. This work takes deep insights and careful consideration, which isn’t going to happen when the agency is changed every time the pitch calendar chimes. Changing annually just because ‘its time’ results in ego-driven work winning out over consistent evolution. While agencies might not like to admit it, when new creative teams win an account they want to put their stamp on the brand (to change it, to take it in a new direction). This is often contrary to the interests of well established brands. That is not to say that many brands in the Middle East don’t need a radical overhaul, but that all too often brands with well-established aesthetics change their tone of voice all too quickly, to the detriment of their established equity and trust.
Building trusted client agency relationships
Building trusted client agency relationships ensures they understand your brand and are invested in your success. The creative team begins to appreciate what makes your brand tick, its likes and dislikes, things it should and shouldn’t do. This kind of learning takes time and when you change an agency you lose this learning and have to restart educating a new team. Building on top of this learning, however, is where the great creative work happens. Insights about the essential nature of your brand and how these can best be coupled with insights about your consumers is the fertile ground for growing truly engaging communication and innovations.
When you feel like a team understands both your brand and your consumer you begin to trust them when they push you to create the communication that’s unique and can cut through the noise. Honda’s ‘Hate Something / Change Something’ campaign is the product of a trusting relationship as is TBWA / Chiat Day’s ‘Think Different’. The latter challenged formal linguistic relevance in a way that most clients would not support, on the other hand, the former used negativity as a thematic device which is typically a total brand no-no. These award-winning works can only come when a brand trusts it’s agency to know its brand and its consumers implicitly. Some might say this work is risky but Honda and Apple had such trust in their agencies that they were able to play closer to the edge than many thought mainstream brands were capable of, and the results were unbelievable.
If you would like to talk to us about your next project, call us or email us and we’ll help you achieve your brilliance.
Everyone needs a bit of client agency loving from time to time.
You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.Epicurus.
Honda 'Hate Something / Change Somthing' campaign, admit it, we all hate something, a little bit.