What are you?

I noticed that local agency Designate has updated it's site. My feelings about the new site aside, the thing that jumped out at me was the descriptor 'an independent agency'. It looks as though it's now been adapted as their line and seems to have found it's way on to their logo too. Its hard to see how being independent holds much value for clients and i can't imagine a brand or marketing director saying "hmm these guys are independent, let's go with them". On the other hand i do see that being independent might make some agencies faster and trimmer, therefore offering clients more flexibility and more value.

(Note - This is not a rant at Designate. I have respect for those guys and i'm pleased they are out there representing Brighton. So don't start emailing rants at me please.)

All this has set me off thinking about how agencies describe themselves. We spend so long finding new ways of selling the same old products for our clients, that we tend to get a little lost when it comes to finding our own unique selling points. Over the years we've all heard the comedy stories of agencies reaching in to the depths to come up with the most random descriptions you could imagine - 'a holistic ideas generating collective' - springs to mind (from an ad agency).

Ultimately it comes down to what difference we can make for our clients. I recently hired a builder to sort some stuff on my house. When i hire a builder i expect them to be efficient, i expect them to be on schedule and i expect to not get fleeced in the cost. All of those things should be expected as a minimum, but the builder i went with came with the recommendation "he is very, very tidy and good at working around kids", bloody perfect, that makes all the difference to me.

We all get a great deal of work through recommendations, so i wonder how we would all be described by the people who recommend us?