Earlier in my career, I was part of a national organization of creative firms that met in different parts of the country. I recall sitting at bar in the French quarter of New Orleans, a few cocktails in, when a colleague from New Orleans said, "You know the difference between branding firms in Boston and those down here?" He paused, "Y'all live above the neck... we live...below the neck!"
As well as being highly amused, I recognized the depth of his colorful statement and it caused me to reflect upon the top ten attributes to look for in a Boston based branding agency:
Love the Intellectual Culture
Boston is an extremely intellectual culture with a large proportion of multi-degreed professionals, many with ties to Harvard, MIT and other internationally recognized universities and medical organizations. Our clients are of this pedigree and they expect us to be as well. As a branding agency in Boston, in order to differentiate our clients, we must quickly grasp the strategic value and utility of complex technologies and methodologies — whether software, medical or consultative in nature — and the business models that perpetuate them.
Demonstrate Thought Leadership
As a Boston branding agency, "living above the neck" and dealing with brilliant clients, demonstrating thought leadership is necessary to convey expertise and the practical application of branding in the real world. This blog is our regular vehicle for expressing the value of branding and websites, useful anecdotes that make a point, and content about the mechanics behind a great B2B brand.
Possess Intellectual Curiosity
Possessing intellectual curiosity is a prerequisite to being a brand agency in Boston. Every day, we are presented with companies on the leading edge of their fields. Despite the intelligence of their leadership, they still need a thoughtful, objective, external resource to cut to the essence of what will make them grow and be more successful. We have to keep our minds agile and shift from one conversation to the next, seamlessly.
Guide with a Strong Process
Engineers, scientists and consultants are process-driven. They are used to empirical reasoning and respect the result when they understand and appreciate the methodology, even if the result may differ from what was expected.
Collaboration is an attitude that one gets further, faster, by combining thoughts, ideas and theories. In working closely with strong leaders, we seek to harness their knowledge, while maintaining their respect. A graceful demeanor, sense of humor and the ability to build consensus, are the most potent tools for a truly collaborative brand agency in Boston.
Put on a "Therapist" Hat
Branding is a lot like therapy. A few years back there was a great show, "In Treatment," starring Gabriel Byrne as a therapist named Dr. Paul. The questions he asked and the way he synthesized his patients' answers into viable conclusions is a process with which I am familiar. I made several In Treatment inspired, Dr. Paul videos, portraying a brand, web and marketing therapist.
The point of my foray into the world of therapy was that more good comes out of active listening and reflecting than being the loudest or most persistent voice in the room. In this way, being a brand agency in Boston is no different from being a brand agency anywhere... at least while one is "living above the neck."
Leverage Experience/Create Experience
When asked what our phrase "Experience Matters" means to him, our client, Stefan Larson, CEO of Northern Biologics answered, “It means that you know the answer because you have done this so much before, and you are going to tell me the right answer, and I am going to trust you.”
Consequently, the experience we guide clients through is clear, measured, complete and leads to positive results.
Weaponize the Brand
Brand pontificators use phrases like, "the brand is defined at every customer touchpoint." It's true. But this kind of language is consultant speak that clients don't trust. A brand's emotional component is every bit as important as the rational. And these days, arguably the most important task, is how to create content that is visual AND tells a story for audiences that don't spend much time reading. To do so successfully, design becomes the secret weapon.
Deliver What You Promise
The previous points are all for naught if a brand agency doesn't deliver what it says. As intellectual, process-driven, creative therapists, clients assign a great deal of trust to their agency partners. We have a lot to live up to, which is why choosing the right partner is so important. For that, as a client, you should always speak to other agency clients. Their experiences are a fair indicator of what yours will be.
What are you looking for in a Boston brand agency?
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