Banal buzzwords, meaningless platitudes, and hackneyed clichés that ironically make most branding agencies sound the same.
Every once in a while I’ll click around branding and creative agency websites to see what others are doing and gain some inspiration. However, if you spend even a little bit of time doing this you’ll find that, no matter how big or small, no matter who their target market is or where they’re located, pretty much every creative agency begins to say the same thing in different ways.
It all sounds something like this:
We believe that utilizing strategic, creatively-driven processes is the key to representing unique brands and cultivating emotional experiences we can deliver to inspired consumers.
That’s a well-written sentence that makes you believe the company knows what it’s doing, right? I hope so, because I wrote it. I basically played Mad Libs with keywords I found on several sites. But what they’re really saying is this:
We believe that utilizing banal buzzwords is the key to getting your attention and sounding both professional and cool while actually saying nothing to people who’s money we want.
Now this is not an attack on the companies themselves, the way they do business, or their work. After all, they are branding companies — they know how to properly brand themselves to get clients — so these tropes obviously work. But enough is enough.
The hipster effect.
Marketing, advertising, and branding agencies were among the first to adopt a more “indie” approach to business (modeled, most likely, after the least “indie” company on the planet, Google): Wearing tennis shoes and T-shirts; a ping pong table in the break room; and let me guess… you’re allowed to bring your dog to work.
These indie agencies have become the very definition of what people dislike about hipster culture (or at least the negative stereotype of the hipster culture). All those anti-conformists in skinny jeans who listen to vinyl were trying so hard to be different that they all started looking the same. Now branding agencies are doing the same thing.
Want some proof? I won’t even make you do the leg work. I searched “top branding agencies,” found a curated list of the “best ones in the world” (however that’s quantified), and clicked randomly. I won’t identify them (you know who you are) because, like I said, I’m not here to disparage the companies themselves.
I also broke them down into categories (because I apparently have that kind of time). Here are some of my favorites:
You know, the kind of content where someone has Google Adwords pulled up on one half of their screen, a thesaurus on the other, and some tissues and a cigarette standing by for when they’re done. The key is adjectives, people!
[We are] a full-service agency that works with game-changing brands, inspired companies, and global influencers. Our core strategic engagements are designed to deliver results, from branding that breathes life into your story, to platform design that fosters engagement and campaigns that drive consumer action.”
We create brand experiences that are distinctive, ownable, engaging and that resonate deeply and enduringly with consumers because they are rooted in fundamental emotional truths.”
[We] work with ambitious companies to build bold brands people love. For over a decade, we’ve seen every brand challenge imaginable and are leaders at solving strategic problems, differentiation, and aligning your business and culture around a clear narrative.”
This one just seems a tad hypocritical:
Leery of marketing tactics and bored by buzzwords, consumers yearn to experience the honest, feel the personality, and see the soul of a brand. We work collaboratively and intentionally to build brands that aren’t afraid to make a statement, stand out in their category, and most of all – move people.
And one of my favorites…
A deeper emotional and cultural connection with the consumer. Brand communications with greater clarity and power. For over 25 years, [we have] used a unique creative-driven process to create iconic brands that have garnered international recognition, consumer loyalty and, most importantly, client success. Through a proprietary process that allows diverse departments to work seamlessly together, [our] brand development is united by a single vision. The result is meticulously researched and inspired communication platforms that raise brand awareness and resonate with consumers on a deep emotional level. By redefining the art of communication, [we have] mastered true branding.
Jesus, at least keep the door shut if you’re going to do that.
OMG, branding is like the best thing ever!
If you “believe” you love branding so much why don’t you marry it?
Your brand is an ecosystem powered by all the things you represent. We explore opportunities and redefine possibilities through a thoughtful and intentional branding process.
We believe a brand is a reputation—driven by a collection of perceptions, emotions and experiences. Brands are innately human and are built by and for people.
We believe that meaningful brands tell stories. Brands are more than products and products are more than a list of functional benefits. Meaningful brands leverage deeply-held human beliefs and cultural cues with powerful emotional associations to express who they are, what they stand for, and how they want to be perceived by others. We craft engaging brand stories that build brand affinity to drive brand performance.
Brand, that last brand one was brand-tastic.
I’m sorry… you’re not a “disruptor.”
You don’t “push boundaries,” “break the rules,” or “challenge the status quo.” There are companies that change the game by defying convention… and then there are the companies who brand those companies.
Through knowledge and disruption, we create beautiful, brilliant brands and experiences… We believe that true potential is realized when we shake off the familiar and pursue the uncommon.
We push boundaries, question assumptions and get results… [We] exist to help the rebels, dreamers, doers and schemers who are fearless in their pursuit to change the world.
From food to direct-to-consumer to tech and fashion, our clients are the rare breed, the disruptors—brands who don’t play by the rules but change them.
And no, you don’t do anything “extraordinary” either.
Extraordinary is a big word. Very few things are EXTRA-ordinary. While some are very good, even great at what they do, and many things can make an agency stand out, they’re still generally doing the same work.
We create communications, products, and environments that transform brands, drive business, and improve people’s lives… To break with the mundane and pursue the extraordinary.
[We are] a strategic brand design agency committed to liberating brands from the ordinary. Independent in spirit, we combine strategic depth and creative adrenalin to ignite brand acceleration.
We launch and grow businesses that challenge what is, and define what’s next. Brands that other brands want to be.
We’ve found the elixir of branding life!
Of course the goal is “endurance,” “sustainability,” and “lasting ideas” — who wants to hire a creative agency every couple of weeks?
Our strategists, designers and marketers work holistically across the world to plan and build enduring meaning for brands – meaning that connects deeply with people today while being able to stretch to connect with them in new ways in the years to come.
We are a brand development company, not an advertising agency. We create enduring brand platforms, not short-lived campaigns.
[We focus] on creating iconic brand personalities and designs… Brands designed to touch consumers’ hearts, sell and stand the test of time.
If anyone stumbles across an unoriginal or vapid “About Us” section, feel free to comment below! And if any of these companies I’ve quoted happen to see this… umm, sorry? At least I searched for the “best” branding agencies, so keep doing what you’re doing. Until then, stay true to your full-service, strategically-driven process that operates outside the status quo and works with inspired, creative, ambitious companies, and delivers impeccable results, solves difficult problems, and develops an engaging narrative to define iconic brands that disrupt the ordinary, and have a lasting impact on all human kind… because you’re different.